Top Stories and News Boxes on SERPS
Top Stories is a search engine result pages (SERP) feature that displays news stories that closely relate to a search query. Hence, they are often referred to as News Boxes.
Publishers seeking traffic from Google News have identified this as a strategic source for gaining Google organic traffic. These eye-grabbing Top Stories boxes on the regular search results can produce significant web traffic. A publisher with good E-E-A-T scores and reputation may find as much as 40 to 60% of the total organic traffic is generated by those Top Stories boxes. This is a powerful way in which Google provides relevant traffic to publishers – if they win visibility in Top Stories boxes.
Google Search Console (GSC) reports help to identify this source of SERP clicks separately from social media traffic, direct traffic, email newsletter clicks, bookmarks, and off-site links. It seems that you need a sufficient level of impressions for the GSC to show which specific pages win this additional desktop feature.
Table of Contents
- Top Stories and News Boxes on SERPS
- What are Google Top Stories?
- Google Top Stories Gain Significant Web Traffic
- How to Get Content Included in Google Top Stories?
- Are Top Stories Articles Repeated on the SERP?
- What are “Google News Top Stories”?
- What Do Top Stories Boxes Include?
- What Ranking Factors are Involved in Selecting Top Stories?
- Take Advantage of News on the SERP Opportunities
What are Google Top Stories?
Top stories display is block format consisting of news articles relevant to a popular query. They typically appear above the SERP fold and include article time stamps and publisher or author names. Top Stories are carousel-like and contain recent articles and breaking news from reputable publishers on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). They may display for up to 30 days after the publication date.
In simple terms, Google Top Stories is an aggregator of news stories from other media sources. They are often referred to as News Boxes, and were formerly called “In The News”. Commonly, they have shown for only 2-4 days.
Both Mobile and Desktop SERP Top Stories carousels are a much-coveted spot for fresh or breaking news to surface within the Google Search platform. What also makes them the cream of search engine result pages – those entities populating the Top Stories section include a link to additional similar articles and content on Google News.
Google announces “Perspectives”
The tech giant states that people will be able to find diverse perspectives on Top Stories with a new feature. “This carousel will appear below Top Stories and showcase insights from a range of journalists, experts, and other relevant voices on the topic you’re searching for. This feature will give you a variety of noteworthy voices on a news topic, complementing the trustworthy reporting you already find on Search to help broaden your understanding.” With this addition, it reinforces its commitment to bringing authoritative and trustworthy information to Google Search. This carousel will launch first in English in the U.S. and will be available on desktop and mobile.
Google Top Stories Gain Significant Web Traffic
Lead publishers find that a lot rides on successfully optimizing their articles for inclusion in those Top Stories boxes. Gaining appearance here when someone types or speaks a specific search query is an incredibly powerful way to win clicks on Google SERPs. According to expert Barry Adams, statistically, one in ten Google searches produces a Top Stories box that populates with news articles. Your Core Web Vital scores matters and articles have a 48-hour window to rank in Top Stories. You can see the arrow to the right which may offer as many as 15 articles in a Top Stories box. 
While introduced in 2016, on December 2019, Google announced that: “Publishers no longer need to submit their site to be eligible for the Google News app and website. Publishers are automatically considered for Top stories or the News tab of Search.”
Google Top Stories may be seeking to:
- Highlight important news that its searchers want.
- Offer a visible and easy way to interact with news publications.
- Make it easy to access multiple viewpoints on current happenings.
- Offer selections that people are more likely to trust, which underscores that Google is a source of helpful reading experiences.
Google Top Stories are not manually populated. Machine learning determines which article sources are more trusted and relevant. it also looks to source “original news” or helpful content that it determines will convey new facts and story-telling offering wanted points of view.
How to Get Content Included in Google Top Stories?
Here are things you can do to increase your chances of showing up in Top Stories:
- Provide excellent user experiences.
- Use topic expert content writers.
- Add compelling images and videos.
- Meet user demand for headline-oriented searches.
- Add A Google News sitemap.
- Add and source factual content.
1. Implement news article schema markup
Schema markup assists in converting your content into the data language that search engines understand. It works through natural language processing and machine learning to also inform your Knowledge Graph. In this way, you are providing information from your site that assists the news-worthy selection process.
NewsArticle is one schema.org
It’s time to embrace custom structured data options to extend your content where possible. Given the trend to move away from keywords and links towards entity recognition and relationships, implementations of semantic markup has become a key competitive advantage. Make every aspect of your evergreen converting content machine-readable will give you a competitive edge.
Additional news article-specific types include:
2. Provide excellent user experiences
This helps content be more contextualized and identified as relevant. When you know what is newsworthy to your audience, you have a better chance of producing topics of interest. It’s a way to increase brand visibility, win traffic, and, ultimately, more customers. Even sites that don’t target Google News inclusion may find their fresh content is in Google Discover. If you implement the tactics and strategies that can improve Top Stories reader engagement, it also helps your broader content marketing efforts.
Topic cluster organization and pillar clustering help readers on your site find related information. Some businesses find it leads to significant traffic increases from both Top Stories and Discover. Consider adding a “follow the topic button” to lead pages of topic cluster content.
3. Use topic expert content writers
SEO is more complicated for businesses and content marketers. If you want to win the top spot in the newsy search results, you need to fully understand Google guidelines and rules. The search company wants to know who the main article author is. Author schema markup helps build author recognition and trust. Becoming a trusted source also helps establish your Google Knowledge Graph.
4. Add compelling images and videos
High-resolution and correctly sized images and videos play important roles in Google News optimization. Newsworthy articles that included both photos and videos along with optimized headlines surface more often in Google Top Stories results. It is best to be knowledgeable of Google image guidelines and adhere to them. This featured snippet is after all, visually centered to appeal to readers. We anticipate that video will help generate increased traffic and revenue in 2023 and beyond.
5. Meet user demand for headline-oriented searches
At times searchers look for newly published articles by author or brand name. A content piece that shows in Top Stories boxes may rank in regular SERPs weeks or months afterward. Once you’ve established your brand or author expertise on authoritative domains, you have an edge. It is very important to every search engine to display content its searchers can trust.
6. Create a Google News Sitemap
Inclusion into Google News is facilitated by creating a news-specific sitemap. News sites that typically publish daily should designate an XML sitemap that highlights your latest and most relevant content. It should contain content published recently to inform search engines of your “latest story”.
Rank Math and Yoast both offer a plugin that can automatically generate this for you. If you create your own, consistently use your publication name exactly as it appears in Google News.
7. Add and source factual content
Artices that offer a clear opinion based on facts gain an advantage. Quality Rater Guidelines stress the need to find, honest, relevant data and statistical content. The best way to feed Google your fact-based content is to implement Fact Check structured data markup.
Even when you are not quoting statistical and factual content, include clear sources in your articles. When your content data can be quickly understood. Google’s update rater instructions further underscore the fundamental principle that Google Search seeks to surface reliable information.
Are Top Stories Articles Repeated on the SERP?
I’ve enjoyed SEO discussions as to if a URL is listed in the top stories section – then is it or is it not displayed in primary web results? We know that Google’s testing of featured snippets is ongoing. It was super when on January 19, 2022, Danny Sullivan of Google shared the helpful insight below on Twitter.
“Just to cap off with the further clarification I promised, we deduplicate a link from web results if a link appears as the first link in Top Stories and if the Top Stories box appears before web results. If it comes after, we don’t. And again, it’s something we’re reviewing. – Danny Sullivan (@dannysullivan) 
At a given point in time, a static stance on this may easily be disproven. Our SERP analysis looking for major news outlets’ recent articles publications has varied results. At times we discovered a specific article in the news box is also on the regular SERP.
It’s an easy assumption that the deduplication system for Top Stories is nuanced.
What are “Google News Top Stories”?
Google News Top Stories is another term for SERP Top Stories and News Boxes.
It encompasses breaking news and is a story-reporting carousel for both mobile and desktop SERPs. It is the most desired spot for fresh or breaking news currently existing within the Google Search ecosystem. Google’s top stories carousel is algorithmically curated.
If you head to https://news.google.com/home, it announces its new look with “A brand-new briefing, clear sections, & more picks for you”.  It will cover “Your Briefing”, where you set up your news preferences. However, this is different. It is not the SERP feature we are talking about here.
With an effective Google News Tops Stories in-page optimization strategy in place, you have an unparalleled opportunity to create returning, loyal readers. It is worth noting that Google is moving away from AMP pages, where it once featured more of this entity type on it mobile SERPs.
Is Google Discover the same as Google News?
Although both offer query-related interesting content for the user in the form of a news feed, Google News focuses on current topics (recent publications like a few days ago), while Google Discover may display older content if it is deemed relevant to the searcher. For either, submit to Google News the articles you hope are included.
What Do Top Stories Boxes Include?
These visually appealing news article blocks typically include:
- A thumbnail image that relates to the article.
- A headline (in the form of a blue link).
- The number of minutes, hours, or days since the publication.
- The article source (entity name of the publisher).
One reason why Top Stories are so coveted is that when a person clicks on the headline, they are taken to the original article.
John Shehata writes in his December 30, 2022, Top News-SEO Trends and Predictions in 2023 article, that “More and more publishers will drop AMP, currently 45% of all Top Stories URLs are still AMP”. I find it surprising that this percentage sites still use AMP.
Shehata also predicts that 2023 will be an intense rollercoaster year for many publishers and SEOs. Most contributors to his article concur that significant traffic changes, financial struggles, spending cuts, and layoffs will occur. This means that your business will need to take advantage of new ways to reach audiences – even if they are hard.
What Ranking Factors are Involved in Selecting Top Stories?
Google’s Publishers Center tells us that Ranking in Google News is determined algorithmically by these factors:
- Relevance of content.
“Our primary means to connect you with the most useful content is to rely on our news algorithms, which look at signals like relevance, prominence, freshness, authoritativeness and usability, the location you are querying from and language. Some features also consider your interests to personalize the results you see. Each of these signals is weighed alongside the others and would not be the sole reason for showing a story. Many of our approaches build on the ranking systems used by Google Search.” – Surfacing useful and relevant content, Google News Initiative
Take Advantage of News on the SERP Opportunities
Make it your aim to curate audience-focused content when major news events take place. Every web story should have a clear and distinct purpose that adds reading value. Hill Web Marketing can assist by providing a content audit coupled with audience research.
Gain content ideas that will align with News Your Audience Wants