If you’re a news outlet, you want to rank well on Google News. So I expect old, traditional media sources were ecstatic when Computerworld recently published “An inside look at Google’s news-ranking algorithm”.
The patent they looked at implies that Google gives favor to sources with a larger number of news bureaus, circulation stats and size of staff. That’s great news for big, old news sources!
The only problem is that they read the wrong patent.
The journalist was looking at a 2003 Google patent and they missed the fact that Google had significantly changed the patent in 2012. Google removed several items that did favor traditional print media.
Gone is the part about looking at the number of news bureaus. Google apparently doesn’t care.
Gone is the focus on circulation statistics and size of staff. Google thinks one person with a small number of readers can be just as valuable.
If Google thought those things should help a media source rank well, they would have kept them in the new, updated patent.
Even worse, other large media outlets picked up the story and ran it without consulting a patent expert.
In the world of Google Patent interpretation, there is nobody on par with Bill Slawski. Here’s what he said about this journalistic mistake:
Neither The Nation or Computerworld should write about patents. Period. Never. In the past couple of days Computerworld posted a “breaking news” story about the publication of a Google patent application from 9 months ago (not breaking news). The Nation wrote a followup story on Computerworld‘s story, and made the same mistake.
Both saw optimism when they should have instead felt fear.
They weren’t publishing information about a 9 month old patent, but rather a ten year old patent. They would have known that if they ever wrote about patents.
For a *much* more detailed version of this episode, read Bill’s post: The Traditional News Agency is Dead (On Google News).
If you’re not interested in the SEO-geeky details, here’s two takeaways:
- Print media is becoming less relevant in the Internet Age.
- Google seems to think they’re not worthy of a ranking boost vs smaller publishers just because the big, old media source is old and big.
- Be a little skeptical when someone claims they know what Google likes.
- Even respected journalists at major publications can get it wrong by taking 10 year old info as accurate. It’s best to find a Google expert like a full time SEO. It takes alot of time to keep up with what works and what doesn’t in the world of Search Engine Optimization.