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Possible Google News Ranking Factors Revealed in Patent?

Google Granted Patent After Six Years

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A patent for "systems and methods for improving the ranking of news articles" was granted to Google yesterday. It was originally filed in 2003.

The patent appears to provide a look at some of the factors Google may take into consideration when ranking articles for Google News. As Bill Slawski of SEO By the SEA points out, it is most likely missing a significant amount of elements that Google takes into consideration today, and some of the ones mentioned may have changed. It is after all, six years later. The web is a completely different place, and so is the news industry.

The abstract for the patent is as follows:

A system ranks results. The system may receive a list of links. The system may identify a source with which each of the links is associated and rank the list of links based at least in part on a quality of the identified sources.

The patent takes a few liberties that would undoubtedly be heavily criticized in the blogosphere. "For example, CNN and BBC are widely regarded as high quality sources of accuracy of reporting, professionalism in writing, etc., while local news sources, such as hometown news sources, may be of lower quality," it says. Based on the query performed below and others, it is easy to tell that Google does give some weight to local sources.

UK results on Google News

In one "implementation consistent with the principles of the invention," here are some factors that are mentioned: 

- a number of articles produced by the news source during a first time period

- an average length of an article produced by the news source

- an amount of important coverage that the news source produces in a second time period

- a breaking news score

- an amount of network traffic to the news source

- a human opinion of the news source

- circulation statistics of the news source

- a size of a staff associated with the news source

- a number of bureaus associated with the news source

- a number of original named entities in a group of articles associated with the news source

- a breadth of coverage by the news source

- a number of different countries from which network traffic to the news source originates

- the writing style used by the news source

We can’t consider these factors to be the absolute law for what Google uses to determine its news article rankings. Unless Google comes out and says "this is it," we need to just take it for what it is – the partial contents of a six-year old patent filing.

That said, the factors are worth considering when trying to determine how Google News ranks content. There is much more information to digest in the patent, so if you’re feeling up to it, you can take a look at it here. Slawski also has a pretty good (and easier to read) analysis of it.

Possible Google News Ranking Factors Revealed in Patent?
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  • http://www.marketingscoop.com/seotraining.htm SEO training

    As someone who watches Google rankings closely, I think we all know that they take hundreds of factors into consideration when ranking web sites. I do believe this shows just that – Google using multiple factors both electronic as well as demographic to return an accurate results.

    I’d love to see the full document. Do you know where we can get it? I’m sure it reveals some other tidbits that may provide helpful to those focused on SEO.

  • http://www.dataplus-svc.com Data Entry Services

    I feel that the wider my selection for news, the more rounded my perception. I watch 2 or 3 channels of differing political loyalties to get an unslanted view. It would work for me.

  • http://www.weightlosshelpfast.com Fast weight loss made easy

    This is quite an interesting article, as it descibes some off page ranking factors.

    The more weighty ones being the demographic aspects, staff numbers, and others.

    It would be interesting to see the full article.

    Some interesting tid bits, but not sure how they would apply to a non-news website.

  • http://www.the-system.org The system

    Don’t even worry about ranking for news results unless you are a news website. News is only news until something new comes along. The art of SEO for news is syndication for links – nothing more!