Search is at the core of Google’s business, and Google News plays a huge role in search for its users, as well as publishers. As Google News has continually evolved, Google has adjusted how it works, and now, it’s removed the meta news keyword that publishers have been using for quite some time.
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In order to target their stories on Google News to the appropriate audience, Google introduced the meta news keyword for publishers back in 2012. The tool made it easier to target articles, but it was still completely optional.
As pointed out by SearchEngineLand, though, Google has recently ditched support for this tool. Publishers can continue using this tool as they wish, but Google won’t be taking note of it.
This news was confirmed by John Mueller, a Google Webmaster Trends Analyst. He says that support was removed “around the time when we removed it from the help center,” although it’s not 100% clear when exactly that was.
It’s a bit unfortunate that Google is taking away the bit of control that this tool provided, but it doesn’t seem like many actively used it. A report from SearchEngineLand months after the tool’s debut revealed that only 5% used it at the time.