November 29, 2021

Google Gives Newspapers What They Want: Less Traffic

I just posted this over on shoutwire, but I’m reposting it here too.

With their constant attempts to sue Google for sending them traffic or lock up their content, it’s pretty clear that most newspapers don’t understand the internet – and why should they?

The internet is basically the anti-newspaper. Where a newspaper is designed to be one source of news for people in a specific location. As sites like this prove, people want differing viewpoints in their news. We read the stories that interest us – and only those stories.

Call it “infosnacking” if you want, but that’s how today’s youth gets their news. Actually, I’m not even sure what infosnacking means, but I haven’t used it since it was declared word of the year.

Unfortunately, newspapers aren’t following the trends. Almost every day I see a new article popping up about somebody suing Google for having their articles in Google news while search engine marketers like myself are pulling out hairs trying to get our content listed there.

If you’re not familiar with Google news it’s basically an aggregator like Shoutwire. Instead of being user submitted though, Google scans the web for news stories, shows a snippet, and links to the original version. There are no ads on Google news.

The newspapers don’t like this. It doesn’t allow them total control of their content, and it really screws up their advertising demographics. Whereas before a Colorado newspaper could ensure most of it’s visitors lived in Colorado, Google news brings a whole slew of new visitors.

They’ve gone so far as to accuse Google of stealing their content where it’s clearly fair us, and they’ve even tried to sue over increased bandwith costs from the Google traffic.

I’m not even going to elaborate on the newspaper outrage over the recently released feature allowing involved parties to add comments or clarifications on news stories. (or in the case of Fox news, a non GOP spin on things.) Editors everywhere are crying foul – as if it’s not possible for a non journalist to have an educated opinion.

Well, earlier this month Google released a feature that my just give newspapers their wish.

After signing a deal with the AP, Google news will no longer link to AP syndicated stories. Instead, they’ll host them on their own servers.

This move not only reduces thousands of redundant links (as many AP stories show up in well over 50 newspapers) but ensures that readers view the original version credited to the original author. It’s helpful to the user while giving credit where credit is due.

It’s also very likely to cause huge traffic decreases for newspapers who only republish AP stories without adding any insight of their own.

Papers that “get it” and do actual reporting of their own stories however will most likely see more prominent listings and more traffic.

The question is: will the other papers notice the lack of traffic? If they do, will they care? I’m sure their advertisers will.

About Ryan Jones

Ryan Jones is an SEO from Detroit. By day he works as a manager of SEO & Analytics at SapientNitro where his team performs SEO for Fortune500 clients. By night he's either playing hockey or attempting to take over the world with his own websites - which he would have already succeeded in doing had it not been for those meddling kids and their dog. The views expressed here have not been paid for and belong only to Ryan, not any of his employers or clients. Follow Ryan on Twitter at: @RyanJones, add him on Google+ or visit his personal website: www.RyanMJones.com