How Publishers can Optimise Content for Apple News

The vast majority of your Apple News traffic will arrive via the app homepage, Editorial Groups and recirculation areas. These are controlled by a combination of Apple News algorithms and human editors, but both parties surface articles according to user interest, quality and timelessness.

As such, these are the areas in which an article feature will yield the best results. Interestingly, there are certain things that will increase both the likelihood of your story being featured in these areas and the likelihood of it attracting readers once it does. Below, we examine the basic optimisations that will help publishers perform their best in Apple News. 

Headlines

There’s no universal rule for headline length and optimisation in Apple News. Headlines are truncated at different points in different sections. 

For instance, the lead article in the Top Stories section of my Today channel at time of writing has all 90 of its characters showing. In Top Stories, For You and Topics areas on Apple News’ Today channel, expect headlines for lead articles to truncate once they breach approximately 100 characters.

Other articles in these sections will have their headlines truncated past around 90 characters. In the below example, “'You had to lie through your teeth': Pontins insider reveals Travellers were blacklisted” is 88 characters long. Notice that it fills just about all of the space allocated to it. 

It’s advisable to consider 90 characters the cutoff point, so your headline can appear in full wherever it is featured. When we consider that Google’s search results page cuts off headlines at around 60 characters, we can conclude that publishers already optimising their headlines for search can comfortably ensure their headlines will display in full within Apple News’ Today channel, Editorial Groups and recirculation areas. 

But, it’s not always prudent to have the same headline appear on-site as in Apple News. In a mixture of algorithm and human-curated pages, an extremely varied mix of publishers appear alongside one another, meaning that the most descriptive headlines tend to drive the highest clicks in Apple News. In short, the most descriptive headline may not be the most SEO-friendly, so there may be times when publishers wish to differentiate between on-site, search and Apple News headlines. Talk to FlatPlan about delivering an “Apple News headline” into your Apple News channel.

Standfirsts 

On the Today feed for desktop, Apple News users will notice standfirsts below stories in their algorithmically curated “For You” and “More For You” sections. 

Standfirsts also appear on focus stories in the “News Top Stories” channel. There’s no cap on standfirsts in either location, so publishers’ on-site optimisations will be sufficient. 

Articles

Much of Apple News is curated by an algorithm. To give the Apple News algorithm plenty of context to work with - raising the likelihood of your story being surfaced below successful articles - publish stories of above 750 words, where possible. 

Don’t cram keywords into your article just to get it over this line. Apple News’ algorithm uses sophisticated natural language processing, making well-written pieces perform better than badly assembled, keyword-stuffed articles. 

Driving Follows

Nailing the above will maximise your chances of appearing in Apple News’ most popular areas. But, once an audience has reached your content, you’ll want them to perceive your publication as a valuable source of the content that interests them. One way of proving so is to invite them to follow your title. When a reader chooses to click Follow, they’re surfaced your content more regularly. This offers your best chance at sustaining strong levels of traffic. Our custom FlatPlan footers can help this happen.

Freethink also use theirs to drive traffic to their social channels, but really, FlatPlan footers allow you to promote anything from below all your Apple News articles. From driving follows for your channel to newsletter signups, it can be done. If this sounds interesting, let’s chat.

Elsewhere, if you want to learn all there is to know about Apple News, head to our Apple News Knowledge Base.