Google speaks mythic truths about Google News

    April 3, 2008
    WebProNews Staff

Everything you think you know about Google News is, um, possibly wrong, but some of it could be right.

Google News drives traffic to news sites. Except for the Precambrian thought processes at AFP and Copiepresse, two companies that have litigated against Google over News because they can’t figure out how to write a robots.txt file, people want that boost of visitors to their stories. Credit CPM ads on news sites for this: page views equals profit.

The Google News blog tried to clear up some of the misperceptions about the service, including some long-standing myths among publishers on how to rank well on the site. Here’s the stuff that falls under myth:

Having an image next to your article improves your ranking

Timing the publication of your article improves your article ranking

There’s no way to see why my articles weren’t included in Google News

Publishing a sitemap helps my rankings

If I put AdSense on my site, my article rankings will improve

We will take issue with the point about seeing why articles aren’t being included. Google certainly does not make it clear, in News or Search, why its algorithms will put something where they do. That’s to keep people from more easily gaming the system, which is understandable.

Google’s point is a site may not be built in a way that allows it to index articles for News. But if Google News crawls a site regularly, and the site’s content may be found in News by searching for it, Google isn’t saying exactly why an article may be 1st or 5th or 22nd in a list.

On the truth side, the concept of universal search doesn’t apply to Google News yet. On the topic of articles with only images or video, and no accompanying text, Google News won’t index it. If you want a video in Google News, it’s going to need a story alongside it.

People likely understand this already from visiting Google News, but they restated the point: images don’t help story rankings. Frequently we have seen Google News place an image alongside a set of results on the main News page,  but the image goes to a site that isn’t in that group.