Yahoo News and Google News Now Reach More Than 27 Million Americans a Month

    August 17, 2004

At the recent Search Engine Strategies conference in San Jose, many search engine marketers seemed surprised to discover that Yahoo News ( now reaches a larger unique audience in the U.S. than MSNBC.

Almost as many were stunned to find out that Google News ( reaches more Americans than

Yahoo/Google news reach 27 million
Yahoo/Google news reach 27 million

But, that’s what the latest data shows. It also shows that Yahoo News and Google News would rank among the top 10 search engines – if news search engines were put in the same category as search engines. According to Nielsen//NetRatings, Yahoo News reached a unique audience of almost 21.0 million Americans at home and at work in June 2004. Google News reached 6.3 million.

Compare that to the top search engines for the same month. Google reached a unique audience of 62.1 million Americans at home and at work in June 2004. Yahoo reached 47.1 million. MSN Search reached 40.9 million. And AOL Search reached 20.3 million. In other words, Yahoo News reaches a larger audience in the U.S. than AOL Search. During the same month, Ask Jeeves reached a unique audience of 10.5 million Americans at home and at work. Overture reached 7.6 million. My Way Search reached 6.5 million. reached 5.9 million. And Lycos Network Search/Directories reached 5.6 million – a smaller audience than the one reached by Google News. Why aren’t the news search engines included in the same category as the search engines?

A year ago, Mark Glaser wrote an article entitled "Google News Finally Makes the Grade" ( for the USC Annenberg Online Journalism Review. In it, he chided Nielsen NetRatings for failing to include Google News in its Current Events & Global News category. That’s where you’ll find Google News and Yahoo News today. Yahoo News is right behind CNN, which reached a unique audience of 22.4 million Americans at home and at work in June 2004, and right ahead of MSNBC, which reached 20.6 million, making Yahoo News the #2 brand or channel in the Current Events & Global News category. A short way down the list, you find Google News right behind, which reach a unique audience of 7.4 million Americans at home and at work in June 2004, and right ahead of Hearst Newspapers Digital, which reached 5.9 million, making Google News the #11 brand or channel in the category.

With news search engines hidden in plain sight for almost a year, it’s not surprising that so many marketers were surprised. It’s like picking up a teenager from summer camp and discovering that he or she has hit a growth spurt while you weren’t looking. So, why should marketers care if news search engines now reach more than 27 million Americans a month? News search engines cull information from thousands of "news sources" – including the press release distribution services.

Conduct a search on Yahoo News or Google News for Search Engine Strategies – just to pick a random term. You’ll not only find recent articles from WebProNews and other "news sources" about the conference, you’ll also see press releases distributed by PR Web and other press release distribution services, too. This means marketers can optimize news releases for the news search engines – just as they can optimize a page on a website.

The difference, however, is that the news search engines only contain stories from the past 30 days, while it can often take up to 30 days to get the search engines to index a new page. How effective a tactic is optimizing news releases for news search engines? A couple of case studies were presented at Search Engine Strategies. One optimized press release generated more than $80,000 in ticket sales for Southwest Airlines as well as articles in The New York Times, Washington Post, and more than a dozen other media.

For less well known brands, one optimized press release prompted CNN to interview the editor of HSToday Magazine, while WineZap was able to use ClickTracks Analyzer Hosted to see that 32% of the people who read their optimized news release clicked on one of the three links to relevant pages on their new website.

However, there is at least one catch. If someone optimizes a press release that doesn’t contain compelling news, then it won’t generate web traffic, sales leads or publicity. Why? Even if optimizing a press releases gets people to click on a headline, they won’t click through to a website if they don’t find a reason to do so in the first few paragraphs.

How can marketers take advantage of this new opportunity? For starters, they can read the article, "How to write a press release for Google News" (
HowToWriteAPressReleaseForGoogleNews.html). If they don’t have the time or talent to do it in-house, they can also get help from literally dozens of search engine marketing firms.

A list of the firms offering these services can be found at I should disclose that my company is on the list, too. But the opportunity presented by the popularity of Yahoo News, Google News and other news search engines is much bigger than any one company.

Greg Jarboe is the co-founder and CEO of SEO-PR, which provides search engine optimization and public relations services to Southwest Airlines, Verizon, the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, the Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization (SEMPO), and a growing list of other organizations. Jarboe is also the editor of SEO-PRs News Blog.