In the world of digital marketing, it’s an old maxim that SEO is constantly changing.
It isn’t just something we say because everyone else says it. It’s really the truth. Google or another search-based platform comes out with a new feature or way of doing things, and we all have to put the work into catching up.
That’s the case with Apple News+, Apple’s premium platform for journalism that goes beyond just straight news.
The service is a way for voracious consumers of journalism to pay one monthly subscription price and have all the mainstream and not-so-mainstream news media at their fingertips, from newspapers to magazines, from headlines to features to commentary.
If Apple News+ sounds great for readers, it’s just as good for all you publishers out there who want to boost your exposure.
Because the Apple News+ platform is essentially its own search engine that iOS users can employ to find your content.
The catch? There are a few hoops you need to jump through to get published on Apple News+.
Here, I’ll take you through what Apple News+ is and its benefits for publishers regarding organic search. I’ll then explain what you need to do to get published on the platform.
What Is Apple News+?
First off, it will help to differentiate between Apple News and Apple News+ for those who don’t know.
Apple News is the free news app that every iOS user can access. The app works in much the same way as a quick scroll through Google News works.
Users get straight, hard-news stories alongside stories from local publications. It’s basically all the news you can find and read for free while searching the Internet.
Apple News will aggregate stories from sources such as CNN, FOX News, People magazine, the BBC, and so on.
What more could a reader want?
A lot more, actually, depending on how much of a journalism freak they are.
That’s where Apple News+ can help.
For $9.99 a month, readers can get hundreds of subscription-based news services all together in one place.
Think of all the online publications users come across that might give out a free article or two per month before informing them that they’ll need to pay a subscription to get access to unlimited, award-winning journalism.
Well, what Apple News+ does is to collect most, but not all, of those outlets in one place for a small monthly price.
Users get the same access to content that they’d get if they bought separate subscriptions to those outlets, except now, it’s all collected together.
So, who’s on Apple News+?
Like I said above, it isn’t everyone you can think of. There’s no New York Times or Washington Post right now, but there are major players such as The New Yorker, TIME, National Geographic, and The Wall Street Journal, along with hundreds more.
How Apple News+ Can Benefit Your Organic Search Visibility
One huge benefit to professional news publishers is that Apple News+ presents an all-new way for users to find you online.
Instead of becoming frustrated that they can’t access certain content on the Internet because it’s locked behind a paywall, users will now be able to find everything you have to offer in one place.
Think about it: it’s much easier, cheaper, and more convenient to pay one company $9.99 a month to access a whole bunch of news content than it is to maintain subscriptions to however many outlets they like reading.
In that case, we can view Apple News+ as essentially its own search engine. If users aren’t immediately looking for a specific publication or story, they’re going to search for the topics they care about.
Apple is then going to deliver what it thinks are the best options for the user based on the search query and the results’ relevance to the user’s topical interests.
Apple User Stats and Figures
Now, think about this for a minute: more than one billion people globally use Apple devices such as iPhones. That’s just under 13% of the world’s population using Apple products on which Apple News+ is available.
The tech giant’s 2020 share in the mobile device market was 27.2% by Q4.
It’s been estimated that about 11 million people used Apple News+ in 2020, and that this number could increase to 19 million by 2023.
All of this is to say that news publishers have a gigantic audience to produce content for when it comes to Apple News+.
How to Publish on Apple News+
Publishers on the Apple News+ subscription service will get access to all the stylistic benefits of the Apple News platform. From fonts to layouts to video and image support, publisher stories can look absolutely beautiful on Apple News+.
Apple also converts content to suit any kind of Apple device where Apple News is available, so users of iPhones, iPads, and Macs will always be able to see stories in the best formats.
If that all sounds great, then news publishers out there should know that there are some steps required of them to become publishers on Apple News+ and the Apple News platform as a whole.
1. Get an Apple ID
The first step to publishing on Apple News+ is to get an Apple ID by making an Apple account. Yep, that’s all there is to that.
2. Apply for a Publisher Account
You will then sign into iCloud with the Apple ID you’re going to use to publish.
The application page notes that Apple News+ accepts professional news stories from real journalistic sources only.
Within your application to publish on the Apple News platform, you’ll have to describe your publication to Apple and include content samples.
3. Submit Content Within the Platform
You then submit your content for publication within the Apple News+ platform.
Apple wants to be sure publishers know what they’re doing, though. The company created this user guide to help publishers understand how to submit and format content, and also how to earn ad revenue from it on the platform (more on that later).
Below, I’ll lay out some of the key details of publishing anything on Apple News as a whole.
Converting to Apple News Format
To allow Apple to publish your content with all the images, formatting, and interactivity that you want users to see, you first need to convert your work into the Apple News Format (ANF).
ANF is the JSON that Apple uses to include elements such as text, images, videos, tables, maps, and other components in your content.
There are a few options that Apple gives you for converting content to ANF, and I’ll lay those out here.
1. Use Third-Party Tools from Your CMS
The first option for converting your content to ANF is to use one of several available third-party tools, depending on your CMS.
These tools are simply plugins that will translate your content into a language that Apple News can read. The tools will then deliver everything to the platform.
If you’re using WordPress, for example, you would install the Alley Interactive plugin to convert your stories and visual elements to ANF.
In Drupal, you would need Project Ricochet or Chapter Three, while in Craft CMS, you’d install Pixel & Tonic.
2. Use the Apple News API
You can also use the Apple News API to convert your content to ANF directly in your CMS.
If you’re not familiar, APIs are application programming interfaces that allow two or more types of software or computers to interact with one another.
The Apple News API will convert and deliver your content for publication and then let you check in on your stories post-publication.
Within the API, publishers can manage their content through channels and sections so they can stay organized.
3. Hand Coding in Text Editors
This final option is for those with some serious technical know-how: hand-coding your own content in a text editor or creating your content directly in the Apple News+ text editor.
This may not be the easiest and most convenient method of getting content into Apple News+, but if you know coding languages and prefer to have total control over how every aspect of your work appears on the platform, you may prefer hand-coding.
Cool Features of Apple News+
Apple News+ is a seriously amazing innovation in journalism availability.
For Apple users, the convenience of having access to hundreds of mainstream publications, even content normally locked behind paywalls, for just $9.99 a month can be too much to pass up.
For publishers, Apple News+ is an incredible opportunity to get in front of millions of eyes, all people who have paid to access your work and who want to consume your content.
What are some other cool features of Apple News+?
For one thing, as I mentioned, you’ll only ever have to publish your content one time, as Apple will do all the heavy lifting of optimizing it for different devices.
Check out the screenshot below of an Apple News platform story displayed on an iPad. It’s beautiful, right? Well, Apple will keep it that way no matter where an Apple user is seeing it.
You can also earn advertising revenue from your content by running display ads, native ads, and video ads or by adding in product or affiliate links. You’ll get paid a commission if you make a sale within Apple News.
The best part is that publishers keep all revenue from the ads they sell to vendors directly. If Apple sells an ad that appears in your content, you as the publisher make 70% of the sale.
Keeping track of your advertising within Apple News as a whole is a must, particularly if you publish frequently. That’s why Apple provides Workbench, the ad-management tool for its News platform.
Don’t Miss Out on All That Apple News+ Has to Offer
If you’re a professional news publication and are not on Apple News+ yet, it may be worthwhile to look into publishing on the platform.
The layouts are visually stunning, and Apple will deliver that quality across all its devices. You also get the chance to sell advertising in your content, which allows you to keep your journalism efforts going.
I hope this guide to publishing on Apple News+ has helped you to see all that’s possible on this platform, including the organic search opportunities!