Back in 2002 Google launched Google News, and SEOs around the world took note of an interesting new tool, but most did little more than shelve their interest in what was simply one more product that seemed to be little more than a toy and got back to the more serious serious business of getting top listings in the infinitely more valuable main index.
With the launch of Froogle (later renamed Google Product Search), Google News was further shunted from the mind as simply a nice addition to a search strategy.
That thinking changed dramatically in 2007, with the inclusion of News in Google's main listings via Universal Search. At a stroke, Google had elevated an ancillary service to a critical part of most search strategies.
To understand just how valuable Google News seemed, consider that a click from the paid listings for a search term like 'life insurance application' would set you back around £25, and that achieving top three rankings in the organic results would have required a sensationally expensive linkbuilding programme over a sustained period of time - with no guarantees of success of course.
And then consider that with a well written, carefully targeted news story, on your own website, could achieve first position within hours of going live for the same search term, and you can see how important Google News became.
Between then and now Google introduced instant indexing, cutting that time back to mere minutes, and unethical SEOs flooded the gates with poor quality news written solely to perform - albeit briefly - in top positions for valuable search terms via news listings designed to lure in visits and cross-sell them into a product purchase.
With the Panda update helping to resolve some of that issue, Google has raised the quality bar in its accepted Google News providers, and getting Google News acceptance today is much harder than it was back in 2007.
Ticking all the stringent technical boxes is a prerequisite, but passing the hand review to gain acceptance is the real challenge and can only be achieved with high quality content, regularly published, that adds real value to your business niche. Organising your team to develop regular contributors not only helps gain inclusion, but improves the experience your readers have from your news, improving your brand value in their eyes.
Yes, it's a hoary old cliché that quality content is king, but when it comes to Google News it's critical, and the rewards are enormous.
Check out the kind of SERP impression spike, and web analytics spikes you can expect to see once you've gained inclusion.