Using Apple News to Its Full Potential

Posted by Matt Birchler
— 2 min read

Back in the fall I started to have an issue with Apple News. I went from seeing hundreds of readers per day to almost zero. I couldn’t figure it out for a long time, and I had just assumed that I no longer satisfied the desires of the Apple News algorithm. Despite seeing literally zero hits on some days, I still kept auto-posting to Apple News.

Then Eric Young reached out to me on Twitter to let me know that there was a problem with my channel. See, I use a WordPress extension to post my stuff to Apple News and it had been working great for a couple years, but apparently iOS 11 made something not work quite right and my posts weren’t getting assigned “categories” on Apple News.

I tried my best, but the nothing solved my problem until the dev updated the plugin1. Everything seems to be working right now, thank god.

But since none of my posts on Apple News were getting in front of people, I turned off the auto-publish feature of the plugin. Since I was getting essentially zero traffic from Apple News, it didn’t make any difference at all to me, but I was a little bummed by not posting somewhere that I knew at least some people read my work.

Even after the recent update that fixed the issue I was having, I still don’t have auto-publish turned on, though. I was reminded that Apple News is not the same as a blog. A blog in the traditional sense is something people go to on a regular basis. Your understanding of one thing I post is informed by the other things I have written in the past. That’s not generally how Apple News works.

As such, I have kept auto-publish turned off and am now manually determining when an article is worth posting to Apple News. It’s not all the time, it’s more often when I have something I feel is worth sharing with a wider audience. This is not always the case with things I post to this site. Because this is a blog, sometimes I post personal things here or smaller things that I have no intention of “going viral” and those posts just belong on the blog.

I shall do my best to publish things promptly to Apple News for those who follow me there (and for those rare times I “crack the algorithm”), but it’s going to be a conscious choice from now on, not the default. A blog is not an Apple News channel, and I think I finally understand that.

  1. The issue revolved around my posts not having a category assigned to them. Since they didn’t have a category, Apple News didn’t know what to classify them as, so they were never in the trending sections of the service and they’d never be suggested to readers after finishing other articles.