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Drastic drop in referrals from Google News - change in algorithm?



9:34 am on Nov 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

Hi all,
One of our sites has been a news source for GN for a couple of years now. We've noticed that in the past few months the number of referrals from GN has dropped by 30%.
We haven't changed anything on the site: same platform, same publishing frequency (about 10 new stories a day), same editorial style.
The number of pages indexed by GN seems to be constant, but for some reason the number of referrals went down so much from June onward- the drop is getting worse and worse month after month and hasn't stopped yet...
Has anybody experienced the same? You think there might have been a change on GN algorithm that caused our stories not to rank well as before?
Thanks a lot!


4:19 pm on Nov 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator goodroi is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

welcome to webmasterworld tonislington!

i am not noticing any trend with my websites in google news. there could be several issues going on.

competition - more and more websites are getting included into google news. you might have been the only one covering your niche. if your competition got accepted into google news your referrals will go down.

technical issues - check your google news sitemap in webmaster central to make sure there are no technical issues. a simple mistake like waiting one day to submit articles can have them rejected.

page layout - this is a huge factor. google news had a redesign about a few months ago and it impacted usage. as my referrals from google news varies widely depending if i trigger the onebox in the organic serps or dont trigger it.

algo change - google is constantly testing and tweaking itself. stick with the basics (keyword placement, properly sized and named image, etc) and you should be ok.

good luck


10:00 pm on Nov 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

I do remember reading something a couple of months ago - an announced change in the way results get clustered under the top headline for each story. Sorry, that I can't remember the details right now or locate the official announcement. It was in a blog post from Google.


3:39 pm on Nov 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

Thanks a lot, Goodroi and Tedster amd sorry for the delay in my response.
I've done a little research and it seems indeed that many have complained about the redesign of GN and its impact on traffic...
In regards to what Goodroi says about competition, this is an interesting point. I've noticed for instance that although we are an autoritative technology site which has been around for a while, entering keywords related to an article that we published recently for instance 'hackers navy', will return a car rentals web site which has published a story about the same topic while to get ours users have to click on the "all 308 articles" link.
Although the car rentals site has published that story a couple of hours after us, I thought that recency was only of the aspect to rank well on GN and for instance in case of similar stories (around the same topic and keywords) they would give priority to sites with more authority (in this case us!). Is this not true? Is "freshness" of a story the most important factor?
Thanks a lot!


3:42 pm on Nov 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Yes, it seems that in all areas, Google has been moving to freshness as a much stronger factor. It can be frustrating to me as a user, and in organic results it also opens up their vulnerability to spam. But I guess this is what their stats show people want.


3:54 pm on Nov 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

Thanks a lot for your answer, Tedster. You think that modifying a previously published story will push it back to the top?
And how substantial do amends have to be in order to bring freshness to a story in your opinion?


3:58 pm on Nov 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

I'd hesitate to say - I'm not hands on with any Google News site right now. Worth the experiment, isn't it?


4:01 pm on Nov 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

Thanks a lot!