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Summary:

So this NYT piece discovers, writing a detailed story about the non-spectacular growth of Google News, the news search site from Google (NSD…

So this NYT piece discovers, writing a detailed story about the non-spectacular growth of Google News, the news search site from Google (NSDQ: GOOG). Comparing it to hosted or original news sites like Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) News, CNN.com, MSNBC.com others is not necessarily the right comparison. This sentence explains why Google hasn’t done much product wise since it launched: “While it is clearly past the experimental stage, Google News still shows no ads, and there are no signs that Google is serious about making money from the site directly.” It can’t, without getting into too much trouble with the news media companies. And frankly, it probably realizes there isn’t lotsa money to be made in pure news search anyway. Rest is a rehashing of all the complaints against Google News over the years…

  1. Smaller Publisher Tuesday, June 24, 2008

    "It can’t, without getting into too much trouble with the news media companies."

    Ah but it can make money by sending more traffic to its bigger Adsense publishers. Let's assume Google has done some Myspace-like deals with the major sites (guaranteed revenue rather than performance-based). It will be doing all it can to generate ROI.

    Look at Google News right now and tell me how many independent sites you see promoted among the top stories. Very few. I used to love the variety of sources on Google News but it's basically 'gone straight', and sites like Digg and Yahoo Buzz are taking over.

    What we've seen, as a smaller publisher (750k-1m uniques / month) is that Google News now *massively favours the big publishers* since it snuggled up with AP back in September. Coincidence? We think not. And I know this is affecting a number of other independent publishers.

    To give you some idea, Google News used to account for 20-40% of traffic, but it has now fallen to a mere 2-3%. Pity.

  2. As someone who's worked for big publishers, I think a lot of that drop you've seen in traffic to smaller sites is the bigger sites wising up and getting on the SEO bandwagon as Google and Google News become more important. The AP was an explicit deal. I doubt they would risk their credibility to favor their AdSense partners. I've personally complained as a paid search client when they obviously favored a partner and started banning the use of "trademarks" in the terms you display in paid search, even though they were clearly relevant news events and no trademark carrier has ever sued for that type of usage in a headline. They quickly stopped. They've got too many clients all over the place to jeopardize their overall business to favor a few big publishers who really have no viable alternative to google anyway. Their strength is their consumer credibility not any one publisher relationship.

  3. Smaller Publisher Tuesday, June 24, 2008

    Hi JB,

    Perhaps they wouldn't explicitly risk anything but there has *definitely* been a shift to the bigger publishers, any which way you look at it.

    Some of the changes in the past year by the big online newspapers have been fantastic, and you're right, people are definitely wising up… that said, doing well on Google News has very little to do with SEO.

    I can't complain too much as we had a good run on Google News and Google owes us nothing, but it is curious how insignificant this channel has become for us, as a source of traffic.

  4. Even on our small site, share of Google News has become much smaller over the last year, for reasons mentioned in the comments above. meanwhile, referrals from Google continue to rise…

  5. Even on our small site, share of Google News has become much smaller over the last year, for reasons mentioned in the comments above. meanwhile, referrals from Google continue to rise…

  6. Smaller Publisher Tuesday, June 24, 2008

    Hi Rafat,

    Yeah, search and image referrals from Google have held up well and grown, it's just the news thing. Bit of a puzzler – we thought we'd suddenly started doing something wrong but it's happening to a bunch of other sites.

    It feels like there is a top tier of publishers, perhaps handpicked or defined by traffic, and they get the promotional love from Google News. We're still in there, but appearing as a featured link on the channel pages / homepage is now a rarity, when previously we'd see 3-4 featured links every day.

    Anyway, we've just shifted the focus onto social media and other referral sources – you have to move on. I personally believe that Google will do the social news thing before too long, but probably under some new brand, with popular stories promoted to News.

  7. It is a lot easier to find the Subscribe or RSS links on publishers' sites – makes it easier to personalize my feed reader on the sources I want, than to be dictated by Google News what I can get. I find myself using iGoogle a lot more now for articles, and Mefeedia for media feeds.

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