Google News Played by Foreign Sources?

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Take a look at Google News U.S. and how many obscure foreign news sources are linked to. Of course nothing is wrong with this until you realize that the stories these sources are writing about are U.S. based. Looking deeper it’s obvious that some of  the news sites appear to be only writing about these stories in order to get traffic from Google News U.S..

Google News Played by Foreign Sources?
Google News Played by Foreign Sources?
Google News

Google News has made a point of linking to authorative sources which is why many blogs aren’t included in the news engine. Google’s algorithm doesn’t seem to apply this formula to its foreign based sites. At the time of this writing there are at least 10 U.S. based stories on their front page of Google News U.S. linking to non U.S. news sources. Possibly more concerning is the quality of the sites being linked to.

For instance…

— The site Playfuls which is based in Cyprus seems to have 5-10 stories Google+Search&as_epq=&as_oq=&as_eq=&as_nsrc=playfuls+com&as_nloc=&as_occt=any&as_drrb=q&as_qdr=&as_mind=29&as_minm=1&as_maxd=28&as_maxm=2″ title=”Playfuls gaming Google News?”>linked to on the front page of Google News at all times. They currently are linked as the top story in the entertainment section covering Paris Hilton driving on a suspended license. Amazingly, Playfuls has nearly Google+Search&as_epq=&as_oq=&as_eq=&as_nsrc=playfuls+com&as_nloc=&as_occt=any&as_drrb=q&as_qdr=&as_mind=29&as_minm=1&as_maxd=28&as_maxm=2″ title=”Google News listings”>8,000 listings in Google News, more than even the New York Times.

Google news: Playfuls.com images

— News site SpiritIndia is linked to as the top source for an article called, "Low fat dairy foods may increase infertility risk". This was based on a study by Harvard University.

Google News: Spirit India images

Interestingly, both of these news sources have a high concentration of Google Adwords on them. SpiritIndia goes as far as hiding the bulk of text in their articles in order to display ads at the top and bottom of stories without the content interfering. Both sites are clearly going after Google News traffic juice to fuel Google Adwords clicks.

google News gamed by AdWords sites? Google News Playfuls on Google News
Playfuls.com on Google News
Google News played by Playfuls?

Aren’t there any news sites on the scene of these stories. For instance, TMZ.com should be the top link covering the latest Paris Hilton or Britney Spears story … not Aljazeera, Xinhua, or Playfuls.

Don’t forget this is Google … people assume the top links on story groups to be the most relevant link to an article.

I know Google wants to appeal to a worldwide user base but constantly linking to obscure foreign sites rewriting U.S. based stories in order to promote their Google Adwords is probably not a great idea.

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  • andymerrett

    They’re only foreign if you live in the US. Not all of us do. Do you have a problem with ‘foreign sites’ writing about US news? Plenty of US sites write about world news. I would’ve thought the reader could use their intelligence to work out which sources are most trustworthy. And no, it’s not always the mainstream, traditional sources.

    • Rich Ord

      Hi Andy,
      I don’t think I’m being cynical, especially when you look at my two examples in the article. Both of those sites, Playfuls and SpiritIndia exist only for Google Adwords. Simply click over to the Google New U.S.  front page and you will see 5-10 links to Playfuls at all times. This site is definately gaming Google News U.S.  in some way.

      In terms of mainstream non U.S. sites writing about local U.S. based stories such as Paris Hilton … it’s the location on the Google News U.S. front page that is the problem to me. When you have 5-10 of the largest headlines on Google News linking to clearly local U.S. news  written by sources in Asia or the Middle East, it seems a bit odd to me … sorry.

      My point is, aren’t there any news sites on the scene of these stories. For instance, TMZ.com should be the top link covering the latest Paris Hilton or Britney Spears story … not Aljazeera, Xinhua, or Playfuls.

      Don’t forget this is Google … people assume the top links on story groups to be the most relevant link to an article.

      By the way, I’m a fan of many non-U.S. news sources, both mainsteam and blogs. I see this as a Google News algorithm issue.

      Rich Ord
      Publisher of WebProNews
      CEO, iEntry, Inc.

      • reallifer

        I am a regular reader and generally enjoy your observations and opinions, but I’m afraid this commentary is way off base. What makes a correspondent writing in Los Angeles for example, more authoritative than one writing from Greece? Of all industry observers you should know that the technology world is changing the game and news is no exception. It’s all a question of authority. The activities associated with the exploitation a Google ad-words position do not fundamentally differ from the kind of commercial and political exploitation that US citizens are routinely subjected to by some of their very own main-stream media players. It’s all a question of understanding who has the authority to report, which all comes down to the market for attention, which is most certainly and particularly in US affairs, a commercial position. You gotta win the commercial battles to win the authority war. Google is not the enemy, but possibly the most crystal clear reflection of commercial technocracy.

        • Rich Ord

          So how do you explain sites like Playful.com which has up 10 links on Google News at all times? … They have no authority and only exist for their Google Adwords.

          Rich Ord
          CEO, iEntry, Inc.
          Publisher of WebProNews

      • virtualcontractor

        My collegues and I have been looking at this problem for over a year now, we have been trying to figure out how Playfuls does so well.

        Our problem is that we are a large news organization, we do syndicate our content to our internation partners and THEY are always getting on Google News while we hardly ever do for the same story that we Originally wrote and posted first!

        We’ve spoken with Google several times about this and gotten nowhere looking at this and trying to figureo ut this algorithm. If anyone figures it out Let me know!

  • Sean

    While I disagree that TMZ, or any other source for that matter, ‘should’ ever be the top link for any story (that’s a purely subjective judgment of the quality of a source), I do agree that some sites are getting more than their fair share.

    When you mentioned Playfuls it immediately struck a chord with me – that damn site is #1 for everything! Now I love reading BBC, Al Jazeera, and Xinhua, even for US based stories, because the outside perspective is a great balance to the US view. To say only local journalists know local issues is false – in fact, outside journalists who are not personally involved with local issues often write the most objective, balanced stories. But Playfuls…what the hell is Playfuls?

    And to add my own subjective judgments to the mix, I personally think a nonsense tabloid like TMZ should *never* be top ranked for anything, even if it is celebrity focused :-)

  • Valkyria

    I absolutely agree with you in that Google shouldn’t show at top of searches the sites that are mainly there for Adsense money.
    But I disagree with you about stating that foreign sites aren’t authoritative sources for news from the States. For that matter, only Aljazeera can talk about what’s going on in the Middle East; and CNN, the Times or any other news company can not be considered to have any authority in those matters.

    • linqink

      I think some posters are missing the point. It’s not that sites outside the US can’t be authoritative–certainly they can. The problem is that many of these top-rated “news” sites are not the actual source of these stories. They’re scraping other people’s sites for content and then using that content to drive Adsense traffic. The actual originator of the stories doesn’t see a dime. Playfuls seems to be a prime example. They’re simply aggregating thousands of links to wire-service stories–not reporting and writing the stories themselves.

      This is an issue that Google will need to address. I know for a fact that they’ve dealt with the “originator” issue in the US. I’d hope that they’d do the same thing globally and give credit to those sites that actually create the content instead of screen-scraping it.

  • virtualcontractor

    My problem is when international sites get ahold of my site’s stories, republishes them on their site even with the byline and they end up getting on Google News and the original site doesn’t. The sites that have syndicated news from a U.S. Source on their sites directly should be considered duplicate content NOT get top slots on Google News.

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