Newsknife finds dramatic changes in Google News ratings

On August 31, 2007, Google announced that it would start hosting material produced by The Associated Press (AP) and three other wire services on Google News. “After just 9 days, it looks like this is already having a big effect on the relevance rankings of news sites there,” Newsknife has just reported.

Newsknife, which is based in New Zealand, compared its pre-wire-service rankings for all of August with its wire-services-included rankings for the first nine days of September. While the September sample is small — only 9,010 listings by 1,092 sites for 72 news stories — Newsknife finds the changes are dramatic.

In August, the top news sites at Google News were:
1 Forbes
2 New York Times
3 ABC News
4 Reuters
5 Washington Post
6 Guardian Unlimited, UK

Looking at September 1-9, the top news sties at Google News were:
1 Guardian Unlimited, UK
2 New York Times
3 Washington Post
4 The Associated Press
5 BBC News, UK
6 Voice of America

So, within nine days, AP has jumped into the top 6 ratings. And Agence France-Presse, another one of the wire services now hosted on Google News, wasn’t far behind.

According to Newsknife, “Such a strong showing by the wire services suggests this is the new reality. Some others sites will presumably move down the Google News rankings to make way.”

On August 31, Josh Cohen, the business product manager for Google News, said, “This change will provide more room on Google News for publishers’ most highly valued content: original content.” And it appears that Google News is rewarding original content.

As evidence, Newsknife pointed to “the other remarkable feature of our September-to-date ratings: the rise of non-wire-service site Guardian Unlimited.”

According to Newsknife, “Surely, we can infer here that Google News is rewarding originality. In Newsknife’s opinion this is a long-awaited reward.”

Newsknife’s “Wire Services Watch” will continue tracking the ratings rise and fall for individual news sites over the next few months — including the wire services. I plan to follow up when it becomes clear who the winners and losers are.

Nevertheless, the early returns indicate that the advice I provided in my SEW blog post on September 3 was on target, “Pitch your next big story directly to one of the 3,000 AP journalists in one of the more than more than 240 AP bureaus worldwide. If they write a story, it has a better chance of appearing in Google News than any of the ‘duplicate articles’ that might appear in one of the thousands of daily newspaper, radio, television and online customers that AP serves.”

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