Google Search + Google News - there must be a better way

Update: I did follow the Ghost tutorial to set up a Google News sitemap just now. But definitely hope for and open to other feedback. Thank you!

Hi! I run a news website in Berkeley, CA, that publishes daily stories about public safety. It has been my beat for the past 10 years.

I launched my site at the end of September, so it’s new, and I’m sure that’s a factor. But I’ve already published 80 stories; most are scoops and exclusives. My site is indexed but I’m still having some serious issues. I’ve had links from regional and national outlets due to all the stories I’ve been breaking, but I’m still just getting very low Google visibility.

Fortunately, social, direct and referral traffic have all been awesome. But search is obviously a key piece as I grow. All my SEO is optimized. But it’s not helping at all.

Here are some of my main pain points right now. I feel like there must be more I can do to make this better.

(1) Even though I run all my stories through Google Search Console, they take hours or longer to be indexed. That obviously doesn’t work for a news source where most of my stories are scoops and breaking news. I’m just using the basic Ghost sitemap …

(2) Searching for “berkeley scanner” leads folks to my site which is great. But searches for specific article subjects or more general things like Berkeley crime and Berkeley police (the focus of nearly all my stories) just don’t lead to my site at all - or I am VERY far down the rankings. It’s frustrating when I am the one breaking news that others pick up (and often credit me for, via link and name!) - but Google still isn’t surfacing my stories in any way.

(3) My publication is listed in Google News, but searching for key terms in my stories (headline, lede, etc.) does not result in my stories being shown AT ALL for any search; searching for my site name in Google News ONLY pulls up other news sites that link to me and my scoops. I can’t figure out why that is or if there’s some change I need to make in the News Publisher center setup.

Any tips would be greatly appreciated.



Have you recently moved to Ghost or have you used Ghost all along?

In my case, I moved from WordPress and just created a new feed which used the same RSS path as WordPress instead of Ghost’s default and all headlines on Google News, get indexed straight away. I didn’t bother with a specific news sitemap.

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Hi! I’ve been on Ghost all along. For me - Google News was reading my RSS as an empty section until I created the Google News sitemap. I had always read you didn’t need to have a Google News sitemap, but this also isn’t my area of expertise. The Ghost tutorial was fantastic and immediately solved the problem I was having.

Before that, though, I had tried using /feed/ (based on something else from the forum) but it was still giving me the empty section error, with no way to fix it.

I’m just glad I noticed that new (?) Ghost tutorial on the Google News sitemap. Esp bc Google’s documentation about how to do this same thing left a lot of open questions (as a non-coder).

I hope this fixes some of the other issues I was having in terms of slow indexing and low visibility - but time will tell! In the meantime, I’m happy my Google News listing at least looks the way I want it to look (which was not the case before).

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@Berkeley_Scanner Glad to hear you were able to get a Google News sitemap up and running :raised_hands: nice work!

As for SEO, I’ve had a quick look at your site and didn’t spot any issues. It sounds like you’re already doing all of the right things (publishing high quality content frequently, optimizing your content, submitting new URLs to Search Console, getting backlinks).

AHREFs shows me that your domain is very new, which explains why Google is slow to index new pages. Building up your domain for SEO is a slow burn, but if you keep doing what you’re doing, over time, your domain will gain more authority.

As you can see here, everything is trending in the right direction:

Thank you for sending! I appreciate it.

I know this post is old-ish, but I’m facing the same issue and everywhere I look the recommended “solution” is “Make better content”, submit the sitemap or “It takes time, your website is new”.
It’s slowly getting annoying because I can make a website with 2 lines of content on it in NodeJS and that website will be listed on the google search engine within the day. (eg: has no links, no content, nothing and I got it on google within hours of publishing)

We’re paying a decent amount of money (Ghost pro) and Ghost can’t even provide more help than “it’s the writer’s fault”?
This is tiring.

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We’ve just been discussing this in another thread - Getting Posts Picked Up In Google News

But you add some interesting new context…

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Have you checked your RSS feed?
Did you take a look at your site speed, image optimisation etc?
If it’s a new domain did you ensure there was no previous google penalties against it?
Do you have caching?
There are a number of troubleshooting steps you can take but first I’d start here:
Make sure you are achieving the best speed scores, if not investigate the issues.

if you’ve already done that, Try a new theme. If you’ve already done that then I would throw up a site on Wordpress or render your pages to url and host them on a new domain/subdomain. Set the canonical and for a few articles to the new site and test for a couple weeks, see if that works.

Unfortunately google is more or less a black box and you hardly ever get solid answers unless you have a specific issue or warning popping up.

You shouldn’t have an issue a specifically with ghost, all pages get rendered to html. The issue most times is the speed and quality of the html.

If you’re that concerned about seo or issues with google I would go with Wordpress, Especially if you’re not actively collecting subs or don’t need them to sign in.

I’ve lost count at the number of sites I’ve ranked for clients with Wordpress. It’s built for blogging and seo. Ghost I’ve been using for less than a month for a personal project and I’m having a number of challenges but nothing that would stop me yet from using it.

WP - seo and UX for readers
Ghost - Signin/Paywall & Sub Conversion

Good luck

@Benjythebee are you talking about general Google search or Google News specifically?

I don’t have any problems with my articles being indexed quickly for general Google searches, but am stumped at this point about how to gain inclusion in Google News - more info in the thread @Berkeley_Scanner linked to.

My site is 2 years old with over 1,100 articles and averages about 50K visits/month, so I’m not buying that it’s just “too new”.

I followed the Ghost instructions to create a Google News sitemap, added that in Google console and confirmed it is indexing, and my articles appear in my publication if you search ValueAddedResource as a source in Google News.

However, none of my articles individually appear in Google News if you search for general keywords that should pull them up.

@Darry_Shan I’ve been considering switching to WordPress specifically because of this issue - my competitors are on WP and use the Yoast plugin to submit to Google News but their sites are also older, have more domain authority etc. so all of that could be in play as well.

I’d prefer not to switch to WP, but am not feeling great about the fact I haven’t found any Ghost sites that are regularly being included in Google News - which makes me concerned it could be a Ghost issue and that no amount of optimization and SEO improvement would help.

If I had something concrete to go on to show that it isn’t a Ghost issue, I could at least then focus on other areas that might help but I feel stuck at this point because it may not be worth the time and effort to work on optimization in Ghost right now if I’m going to eventually have to switch to WP or something else to try to solve this issue.

Any insight you might have on Google News in particular would be greatly appreciated!

I understand your frustration.
It’s not a matter of Google seeing that you’re using Ghost and rejecting it, as all it sees is the HTML, CSS, and JavaScript of your site. You can check if there are any issues with these elements using Page Speed Insights.

There could be other factors at play, have you noticed patterns in the posts that are being picked up and those that aren’t, errors in your Search Console, or even nuances in individual posts like images pulling from another domain? If you load unsplash images through the editor it will load from unsplashes domain and not yours.

Make sure to download and optimize your images for each article, and avoid using images from other domains. It’s also possible that similar stories are being syndicated so frequently that new stories covering the same event or topic are being metered. Review your RSS feed and ensure you have a sitemap and robots.txt file.

I personally haven’t used Yoast in a while, but I use other plugins. I can’t think of anything that Yoast does that’s so special that it makes sites appear on news sites.

If you prefer not to switch to WordPress, I think you need to optimize your Ghost site to increase your chances of appearing in Google News. This could involve reviewing your RSS feed, optimizing images, and fixing any errors in your Search Console. Good luck

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Thanks, appreciate the advice!

have you noticed patterns in the posts that are being picked up and those that aren’t

Nope, that’s the problem - no posts are being picked up in Googles News, so there is no discernable pattern for me to detect.

No errors in search console either or anything else that I could use to try to even begin to guess at a reason or narrow in on what I might need to do to improve the chances of being included.

Are you using self hosted or ghost hosted?

I use Ghost hosted, creator plan if that makes a difference.

Are your articles being indexed by google?
It’s unlikely that it is your content and must be either on google’s end or ghost’s end. Are you aware of any confirmed ghost hosted sites that are on google news?
Where do you get support for ghost hosted plans?

I’m just testing on the creator plan as well. I am concerned about backups and so on. I have encountered several errors in the GSC but I’m not sure where to get support. If these things continue I will try self hosting and then if that doesn’t work, dependable WordPress lol.

Yes, my articles are indexed by Google and I have no issues with regular organic Google Search placement - averaging about 50k visits/month right now and ~90% of that is from organic google searches.

My issue is specifically and only with Google News. I have not been able to confirm any Ghost hosted sites on Google News, but there could certainly be some that I’m just not aware of.

If you’re on a Ghost pro plan you can email support. I’ve found them to be really great when dealing with issues that are specifically about Ghost…but with this issue there just isn’t much help they can provide because it’s not like there’s an error message or anything that even points to a specific problem on the Ghost side of things.

There has been some confusion in this thread between "appearing in Google Search” and "appearing in Google News”.

To speak specifically about appearing in Google News, no matter what CMS you use, you’ll need to implement the required meta/RSS feeds for your articles. Here’s a tutorial that explains how to create a Google News sitemap for a Ghost site.

After that, it’s entirely up to Google/algorithms to determine what articles are considered news and shared in the news feed.

There are several Ghost sites that frequently appear in the Google News feed, such as

Here’s some useful tips about optimizing your content for Google News from Search Engine Journal.


Thanks for that example Kym!

I had previously followed the steps in the tutorial you provided but I noticed one thing - there doesn’t appear to be anything about removing links from the sitemap that are over 2 days old.

Google News sitemap documentation says to only include articles that have been published in the last 2 days:

Only include recent URLs for articles that were created in the last two days. Once the articles are older than two days, either remove those URLs from the news sitemap or remove the <news:news> metadata from the older URLs. The articles will remain in the index for the regular 30-day period.

The example provided in the Ghost documentation includes the last 1,000 articles, most of which are older than 2 days.

Could this be a factor in Google choosing not to include articles from that sitemap in News since it doesn’t follow that part of their requirements?

What would need to be changed from the example to limit the sitemap to show only the previous 2 days?

Well spotted! While I think this is unlikely to be a factor in placement, I’ve updated the tutorial so that only the previous two days of posts are included in the sitemap.

The relevant line is this:

{{#get "posts" filter="published_at:>now-2d" limit="1000" include="tags"}}

For the full deets, see the tutorial:

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Thanks for the update Ryan! I’ll give that a shot and continue with the other optimization suggestions too.

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Have you noticed any improvement as a result of this change? I haven’t updated with this line but I will if you see results. :)

Also, I did see The Lever in Google News results. Not sure if anyone can share, how old is that site, and was it originally built on Ghost or some other platform? I may try to write them directly.

It would be somewhat reassuring to know of other Ghost local news sites launched in the past two years that appear on Google News. No one has been able to share answers on this front.

My sense is that Google News has become more restrictive in recent years, perhaps because it was once too much of a free-for-all. But, as it stands, there are ALL KINDS of low-quality sites / PR wires / random sources showing up in there routinely… that perhaps were grandfathered in.

My stories don’t show up - but then bigger outlets copy me and do the same stories, and they show up. It’s hard to see that day after day and month after month.

Right now there seem to be too many unanswered questions. Is it possible whether Ghost can find out about other local news sites launched within the past two years that do appear in Google News?