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Google News Experience Slow Growth?

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The New York Times says that Google News, Google’s semi-automated mainstream and blog news indexing service, is experiencing slow growth:

… traffic growth is sluggish. With 11.4 million users in May, Google News ranked No. 8 among news sites, far behind Yahoo News, which was No. 1 with 35.8 million visitors, according to Nielsen Online.

Its growth rate of 10 percent over the last two years is far slower than those of most other large news Web sites. In the last two years, second-ranked MSNBC.com grew by 42 percent, adding 10.4 million users. Traffic at CNN.com and nytimes.com grew even faster.

If being among the top 10 news sites in the world is considered low, I suppose you’re in good shape. But I’m not sure exactly how these stats are created in any case; for instance, as the NYT article briefly mentions, Google News also appears as a “onebox” in normal Google web search results. And then there are Google News alerts, which will reach people via email. All of that is a lot of exposure, even when you don’t actively visit the Google News homepage. NYT quotes Google’s Marissa Mayer: “It directly feeds the main business.”

As far as Google News being ad-free to this day (at least when you visit the main Google News homepage and results), the NYT quotes anonymous Google employees suggesting that “concerns about antagonizing news publishers have guided some decisions at Google News, most notably the decision not to place ads”.

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