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June 17 Google algorithm changes: "News-Wave Update"

     
2:30 am on Jun 23, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Following discussion on June 17 of whether Google recently had a core algo update outside of "everflux as usual" (which is what Google was hinting these changes were)... [webmasterworld.com...]

...Marcus Tober of SearchMetrics reports on a "quick analysis" using SearchMetrics data, which has suggested coherent new patterns in the results which are related to new Google capabilities, and he has given the update a name....

Google News-Wave Update: Media Websites Surfing the Winner Tide
June 19th, 2015 - Analysis by Marcus Tober
[blog.searchmetrics.com...]

Within a few weeks, Google has tweaked its core algorithm and rolled out an update for the second time without officially anouncing it. According to our quick analysis, this update seems to be primarily concerned with trending keywords as well as temporary search intentions related to informational (shorthead) keywords....

Marcus reports that the main aspects of the algo change appear to be QDF (Query Deserves Freshness)... in fact extreme QDF... constant updating of serps, which is benefitting mostly well-known news sites on 'narrowly topical queries'. This results in extreme volatility in the serps.

He astutely relates the rapidity of change to the new real time data reporting abilities of Google Trends and also with Google's current access to the Twitter stream....

That's why acuality is one the key factors for the Newswave Update. Google's algorithm can now react immediately on changes in the search volume of specific keywords or trendings topics on Twitter, YouTube or Google News.


The WebmasterWorld thread on the Google Trends changes has only recently begun. Worth checking out here...

Google Trends Major Refresh - Now Shows Search,YouTube and Google News
June 18, 2015
https://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4753173.htm [webmasterworld.com]


Thanks to Barry on SearchEngineLand [searchengineland.com...] for keeping on top of the algo story, and also to Duane Forrester at Bing.
5:35 am on June 23, 2015 (gmt 0)

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To me it could be viewed as very discouraging to the average webmaster. If you haven't earned your "colors", you aren't part of the chosen ones. If you're not part of that group, then when things matter the most (people searching for your topic), that's when you get buried. It's an exclusive club that enjoy these peaks. It's not accessible to everyone. Only the full staffed corporate type sites from what I observe are able to enjoy this situation. If you can't post 10 articles a day (just throwing that number out there) to become the upper echelon, then I pretty much don't see a lot of reason for optimism, aside from being in areas where people really don't flock to. When I say flock to, I mean you better hope that there isn't a spike in search activity because that's likely when the little guy is out, and the big guys (those with their colors) move in. It's an interesting dynamic. Follow the money. Quite the spam filter. It's certainly one way of keeping the niche or smaller specialty guys out of the picture when it matters the most. One article on said topic vs. the 100 articles on said topic. Big site with one article will take it, especially when it can be labeled as "news". I don't see how a small niche site cracks through that.
6:14 am on June 23, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I wonder if this is what I saw earlier today. We had some severe weather expected (I'm up right now because of a tornado warning) such that they changed the time of one of my events; moved it up an hour. I updated my site (which ranks #1 for that event) and within fifteen minutes, it appeared to be updated with the new time in Google. I haven't seen that in years.
6:25 am on June 23, 2015 (gmt 0)

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The biggest winners all have hefty advertising budgets, the losers... not so much. I doubt that ad budget is a ranking factor but overall exposure might be if Google simply "stretched" the metrics to favor existing top sites a little more.
7:03 am on June 23, 2015 (gmt 0)

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netmeg, if this is what you saw, then that expands the scope of the update beyond the realm of major news sites, and puts it into the realm also of trusted niche sites, small or large, that have access to breaking or timely news. This seems not improbable to me. This might also help boost genuinely local news sites on some otherwise national stories.

I certainly understand MrSavage's concern, but I don't know that this algo change suggests that major sites are going to start targeting niche topics. I'll have to start watching more closely now. I do remember several national stories in the past several days where I think I remember local sites that I hadn't seen before ranking on the main serps page for local news stories. That's anecdotal at best... I'll have to watch closer, but hard to compare with what has gone before if it's not my site.

It should be noted that it's unlikely that in such a short time that the SearchMetrics study would have caught small niche stories, or in fact anything other than national sites, so it will be interesting how niche and local QDF plays out. We've known that Google has been hyper-local for some time now. Possibly, hyper-fresh for QDF might enter into localize results.

Ditto on exactly how Twitter results, hash tags, etc, enter into these serps.
7:07 am on June 23, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Because the biggest sites, from my interests or topics, have the most staff and the highest output of content, they will simply get richer as it were. The richer get richer. It's a tough game. Stay with interests that few people care about, thus a relatively futile earnings potential vs. find yourself buried when your topic of expertise find some popularity. I think it's always sort of worked like this, but if they have upped the trigger points, this is not great for smaller people such as myself. I guess those Cutts quotes about bringing back some of the niche type sites is all but forgotten? Just more holes to plug. That's how I'm viewing this. At some point I run out of fingers.

Edit/Update: I don't think this should be considered as "news" as in what you see on local news casts. News is considered something people are looking for, talking about, searching for. The cluster of brand sites with those platoons of writers are the ones taking those spots at the top. New products, all that. That's all news. Anything that is relevant is news from what I can see. I wouldn't care so much if this was about local news stories and the such, but it appears more about anything under the sun that people start caring about. In my experience, it's very very discouraging. That decent ranking is a false sense of security.

The question to ask is, am I ranking decently because people don't care enough right now? If the answer is yes, then ask yourself if people will care soon enough. If the answer is yes, then enjoy what you have because when you think that your ranking means something, it doesn't really hold up. If you have earned your "colors", then obviously you can be part of that cluster, in which case you would be applauding more favored content. I borderline consider it sponsored content.
8:54 am on June 23, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Are we saying social media is form of manipulation? It is true the major companies can have dedicated social media teams. Essentially they are paid social media... but impossible to tell apart from independent tweets.
9:53 am on June 23, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Are we saying social media is form of manipulation?


IMHO it has been that way for ages, only yesterday I was reading an article about "someone supposedly famous" for their manipulation of their promotional business interests via social media and has been doing so for several years now.

Yes, they pay staff to do this.
10:28 am on June 23, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Are we saying social media is form of manipulation?

Wasn't that the whole point of "social media" ( apart from to push ads at "the users" ) presumably that is the reason for the existance of dedicted fora to ( how to better manipulate "the users" )"social media" at WebmasterWorld..
IMHO it has been that way for ages, only yesterday I was reading an article about "someone supposedly famous" for their manipulation of their promotional business interests via social media and has been doing so for several years now.

What would fall within "social media" is larger than many would immediately realise..FE...any and all sites that allow "comments"..and those sites which talk about social media..and which allow "comments"..

turtles...
10:56 am on June 23, 2015 (gmt 0)

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My main site is in a niche that has been trending steadily upward for more than a year now. No huge spikes, just steady growth. Just recently (over the last couple of weeks) the blog portion of my site has started getting some decent traction. This isn't a news site by any means but the subject is a growing hot-topic. I can't put my finger on why I'm getting more organic traffic yet but the change has been significant over the last couple of week. Recent "quality update" or something else? I'm also noticing more rapid updates on the directory side of my site but that's not really relevant to this particular thread and may indicate something else entirely.
10:56 am on June 23, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Are we saying social media is form of manipulation?

I know it manipulated half my traffic away from my site over the last few years. It's also manipulated me into working long hours to regain that traffic back.
2:15 am on June 25, 2015 (gmt 0)

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It's confusing because there is the "News" tab on Google search result pages. I noticed a lot of articles from mass-media websites are now included as part of search results, but it doesn't seem useful because when users want news they'd go to the News section.
6:31 am on June 25, 2015 (gmt 0)

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My emphasis added...
...it doesn't seem useful because when users want news they'd go to the News section

Google has been constantly running tests and has analyzed a huge amount of data over the years to determine user intent, and I'm thinking they have an extremely good idea when users want news. Google will have even a better idea when this algo has run for a while.

The "News-Wave" algorithm, as I see it, is only targeting short, general queries, the kind of query that is so broad that it's often not productive. Historically, searchers have needed to add modifiers to broad queries to come up with results that are useful. Google has offered suggestions via auto-suggest and has provided "Searches related to" type suggestions at the end of a serp... but many searchers ignore those and don't give Google much to go on initially. Many searchers don't click on the News tab either.

It might help to think of this as analogous to a search for "pizza". Most "pizza" searchers don't get into intent or location. Google has statistically determined, by looking at how these searchers follow up their one-word queries, that most are looking for a nearby place to buy pizza. What with mobile, Google has hyper-localized some queries even more than before.

Time is another dimension we live in, and QDF has been around for a while. With Real-Time data available, Google is now getting into extreme freshness, perhaps because the world is less patient and things are moving much faster.

I think that as more data comes in, we will see that not all the benefits of this algo go to major media... that established niche sites which are on top of things will be rewarded, and this will be not just about breaking news, but also about the kind of background information that becomes important when certain terms are trending high. Some of these, as netmeg suggested, could turn out to be on niche topics, and I'd also expect many to be local.

But, for the kinds of breaking stories and queries where you'd expect major media to have an edge, it's likely that they've had that reporting edge for quite a while... and that Google wasn't able to react to signals fast enough. Possibly, this adjustment will allow Google to depend less on freshness in general, and only react to the kind of freshness it values... and perhaps also to downrank some spam that's been sneaking through because it was fresh.

From what I've been seeing... on major news stories, some of the articles that are ranking in addition to top news reports, are what we've called "in-depth articles", which are relevant to the context of the trending query. I'm seeing some amazingly good results. Worth noting that on these searches, if I add even one extra word to move away from the extremely general query, the freshness factor seems to fall off considerably.
6:45 am on June 25, 2015 (gmt 0)

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If you consider what sites get into Google news, the accepted ones, they have a common theme. Big sites. Big staff. Copious amounts of daily content, over long periods of time. I wish, by god I wish that a niche or expert site could somehow compete when it matters the most. However, if niche site doesn't have that news level criteria covered, then how could a non news site get into that news cluster? I would love to think that happens and perhaps it does on the most minute stories and miniscule levels of interest by the general public. I'm not trying to be negative Nancy, but how does a non news site qualify to be a chosen source at the top of the serps? The news "colors" is for the big heavy hitters. I'm likely in a different area of the web than a lot of other people, I have no idea. I simply don't see how a non news credentialed site gets one of those most premium placements in the serps when it matters the most. If this changes, nobody would rejoice more than me. However, I'm likely moving on by the time that occurs.
4:26 am on June 26, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Greetings and Gidday from Downunder all,

Can't say I've noticed much movement in the .au geo and niche (travel/tourism destination), maybe a slight uptick with better GA stats for pages visited, TOP, and slightly improved bounce rates across most of my clients and own sites, with some "can't quite put my finger on it" activity patterns that can be attributed to something other than the winter school holidays starting here this weekend.

But Robert's initial post comment:
He astutely relates the rapidity of change to the new real time data reporting abilities of Google Trends and also with Google's current access to the Twitter stream....
got me thinking. Is anyone seeing a correlation between SERPS or traffic spikes and tweets with #topic hashtag on your own or "influencer/s" tweet streams?

If so, this maybe one way the QDF is being filtered, and why people are seeing varying results.

Cheers and have a great weekend.

(BTW, I always try to make sure any of my frequent FB posts, along with any of my less frequent blog posts - which both automatically feed to my twitter stream, adhere to the twitter "standard", so the title/subject, shortened link and 2 or 3 hashtags fit the twitter display limitation, with the rest of the item/comments etc following after.)
2:42 am on June 27, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Anyone who wants to see this news feature in action, just do a search for "Fare Thee Well" right now. Searching for Gay Marriage will also do the trick.
9:03 pm on June 30, 2015 (gmt 0)

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OK, I've been watching the same current news term for about a week now (just something I'm interested in) and this so-called News-Wave feature is proving to be both useful (for people looking for current topics) and a bit prejudicial on our side of things. One thing I'm noticing is that over time, syndicated articles are showing up in the feed on sites other than where they were originally posted. These come in a day or so later (complete with incorrect information -- that was corrected in the original article but not by the mashing site). Seems like old news is just being re-titled, given a new publishing date and picked up as if it's something new. It's a bit disturbing but I'm off to drink some good beer so I'll just leave this for later.
8:34 am on July 2, 2015 (gmt 0)

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@webcentric - New dates on old stories? I'd have thought they would have fixed that, considering what happened in 2008(!)

(75% drop in stock value for United Airlines)

[wired.com...]
12:21 pm on July 2, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I think this is a result of the syndication process (and the way websites automatically add the posted date to an article when it is posted) The date seems to be the date the article is posted on the licensee's site. So when I see today's date (and before getting into the article), I naturally assume it's a new article. The title is different which also implies that it's something I haven't read yet but, when I start reading, it becomes clear that it's just a cut and paste job of something issued days before.
9:08 pm on July 3, 2015 (gmt 0)

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CNN and others have found the key to pushing the same news item back to the top of the list by changing the last update date on their articles. I know this isn't something new but in this news widget, it's proving to be a pretty good way to stay at the top it seems. Have seen the same article come up as new for the current day, three days in a row now.
2:18 am on July 6, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I would have thought that Google would apply its universal dupe content filters on news to prevent headline boosting.

Sneaky .. will have to try some experiments and see if and how it could affect regular serps.