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Google News rankings - insights, issues, and delays

     
4:42 am on Jan 8, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Our website gets about 1-3 million page views a month. It's on Google news.

Our traffic sources are:

'Google' (presumably organic search) -- about 40% of all traffic.
'Googleapis.com' -- about 25% of all traffic
'News.Google.Com' -- about 15% of all traffic
Direct, SM etc -- about 20% of all traffic.

Occasionally, there's something called 'discover.google.com' and 'news.url.google.com', but these are very rare.

We put up an average of 25 news articles a week, and most of these are either exclusive or exclusive when put up (as in, we're the first to put up the story, even if others are expected to join later). On weekends, we don't put anything up for about 50 hours continuously as we don't work on weekends.

We've been on Google news under the current domain for about two years, but under another domain for 5.5 years (since 2011) before that.

PROBLEM:

The site used to do fine (not sure when it changed though). The issue is that if someone goes to news.google.com and searches for a topic on which we've just posted, our articles don't show up. They will start showing up if someone goes to news.google.com after 5 or 6 hours and does the same search.

In other words, it looks like news.google.com takes about 5-6 hours to index our stories. That's what I used to think was happening, till I noticed that if I put in the name of my website, and click on the suggested 'source' link, the stories do appear, even before the 5-6 hours are done.

What could this be? Why won't they show up for the topic till 5-6 hours are over? And why do they show up for 'source search'?

What is even more weird is that if you do the 'site: ' search, they don't show up either, till 5-6 hours are done. I've been tracking this issue for two weeks and I've not seen any change.

However, if you go to regular google and do a 'site: ' query on our domain, you'll see that stories are indexed instantly. You can also see all the stories, including the latest ones, when you click on the 'news' tab next to the general search (where it gives you the option of looking for 'videos', 'books' etc.)

We did change our host about a month back, not sure if this is related to that. The new host is closer to our target market of India, and therefore farther from Google's servers, which has had the impact of increasing fetch times for Google. Not sure if that's a factor. I think not.

Another thing is that almost all, if not all, of our stories appear on News.Google.Com eventually. But in case of many other publishers, including big ones, about half of their content is filtered out from news.google.com.

Anyway, the long and short of the problem is that I get traffic from news.google.com within minutes of publishing my stories, but someone going to News.Google.Com doesn't see my stories till 5-6 hours have passed. By then, everyone and their uncle have put out a story on the same topic and competition is intense.

What could be going on? We have amp. We have a sitemap.
11:17 am on Jan 8, 2019 (gmt 0)

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The only thing I can think of is that our site is considered 'low quality' or something, and Google doesn't 'prefer' to show our links to most of its users. So this keeps initial visibility very low.

But because people click on our headlines, this resistance is overcome over a period of a few hours by the other parts of the algo that promote stories that get a lot of clicks from users.

What I don't understand is how this always takes 5-6 hours (for good stories and bad).
12:15 pm on Jan 8, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Did you check the Google Webmasters Tool (or Search Console or whatever) for a dedicated News sitemap?
It is different from general sitemap.
3:23 am on Jan 9, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Yes. I have it. Another thing is that suppose I put up an article at 12 pm today.

At 12:01, I go to news.google.com and do 'site: ' query (or a headline query), it won't show up. But I enter the name of the publication and click on the suggested 'source' link, it will show up.

At 5 PM, I do the headline or site: query and the story would be there. But what would be interesting is that it would say "10 minutes ago" or "20 minutes ago", while the story was actually published 5 hours ago. Even the 'source' search will show the same thing -- 10 minutes ago and so on.
7:53 am on Jan 9, 2019 (gmt 0)

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I've confirmed that this problem afflicts not just us, but practically all news websites in India. However, the time seems to range from a few minutes to a few hours. But nobody's articles are showing up immediately.
This has the impact that for fast-developing stories, News.Google.Com has become a useless source of updates as all the latest stories are automatically excluded and you end up being served with stories that are hours old, at least.
5:10 am on Jan 10, 2019 (gmt 0)

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1 to 2 million in traffic is that all from India? thats impressive for google news, you must be making some good money on adsense.
Google news has been acting up for the past 4 or 5 months. a lot of the smaller publishers are suffering but as long as you still get traffic you should be okay

most of the news websites rely on adsense and the first surger of traffic is where they get most of their money, if you break a story first or early and get ranked in the top stories you should get a lot of traffic which means lots of clicks on your ads

I noticed if you dont get any stories in top stories or top of google search for single keywords you do not get traffic

but you are getting a million views a month thats amazing
3:58 am on Jan 23, 2019 (gmt 0)

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sorry if I gave that impression. No. 1-2 million is from all sources. Google News hardly gives me anything since October or so last year. Looks like Google's decided to favor only the big publishers. I don't see the logic behind their latest update.

As for the delay in indexation in Google News (the original topic of this post), I noticed that the issue has resolved itself as of today. No idea why or how. But now, it's getting indexed along with the main index.
8:53 pm on Jan 25, 2019 (gmt 0)

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I have a large news site as well, and I;ve noticed the same problem. It seems to come and go for me.
I think it's related to this:

[seroundtable.com...]
[seroundtable.com...]

I hadn't experienced the issue since early December. I was here looking because it just started again this week. From experience, it will go back to normal in a few days.
12:57 pm on Jan 27, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Hello,

Work with one of the top ten sites in South Africa. We're seeing same. Despite a PWA, AMP and everything else, google desktop bot seems to be doing the majority of visiting (this was the opposite a few weeks ago).

Saw a huge boom from Google feed when the 16 Jan update hit, then this week, suddenly something changed. And it's totally inconsistent.
11:57 am on Jan 28, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Another symptom of this problem: In Webmaster Tools, errors have started appearing for AMP urls in the thousands for "Crawl Issue". These pages all "pass" with valid structured data when test, and googlebots can access them fine. Some new articles posted today are not getting amp'ed.
4:02 pm on Jan 28, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Same.

I see on the other general non-news thread that people are noticing AMP pages not always showing up. We're seeing same. Can't diagnose. It's inconsistent. Something appears as amp, then it doesn't. Then it doesn't appear as amp, then it does. Something wild is going on....

I thought it was some dodgy code somewhere, but.....maybe not
1:14 pm on Jan 29, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Looks like they've fixed it. AMP traffic is back, and my keywords are normal again.
More likely, they rolled back the Google News changes they made recently.
8:33 pm on Jan 29, 2019 (gmt 0)

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And is if by magic, the surge from the discover feed is back this side too.
This is all so weird.
6:38 pm on Feb 5, 2019 (gmt 0)

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For you guys using AMP what is the purpose of it? is it to get in the carousel or is it just for mobile traffic also I noticed you can now put Adsense in the amp version before you were not allowed to put ads, Google adsense has an option for auto ads for amp

are the earnings good? Im scared to try AMP because I heard horror stories and that people said no adsense was shown, but now that you can put an ad it should bring in revenue through mobile amp right?
2:32 am on Feb 6, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Well the best reason is ....RPMs are significantly higher on AMP'ed pages, by a factor of 3-5 across the sites I work on. You might think it's because "AMP" pages are all search traffic, while "WEB" pages are a mix, but the difference is clear when you look at it before and after implementation.

But these are all news/publisher sites. It might be different in other niches. Second reason is "Top Stories" which brings traffic.

Avoid Auto AMP ads, and do manual placements.

[edited by: topaz at 3:05 am (utc) on Feb 6, 2019]

2:59 am on Feb 6, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@topaz do you mean to say 'on' instead of 'than on' ?

As for the bounce, traffic has indeed risen since Jan 24/25 for a variety of small-to-medium sized sites I track.
3:04 am on Feb 6, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Yes, I meant on.
8:39 pm on Feb 14, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Perhaps bias is in play? a 6 hour headstart for "trusted partners" only before that particular story is available to every publisher?

I ask because when I see breaking news I always see the same news agencies in the top spots which might suggest that on page factors aren't the end all of ranking highly for news.

I think News joined finances and medical in terms of the potential damage misinformation can cause. Didn't google announce they would better monitor and evaluate these in the past? Perhaps your site being first to publish but needing 6 hours to be shown means they are waiting for their more trusted or biased sources to coroborate your story?

All just conjecture, but have any of these been ruled out?
3:22 am on Feb 19, 2019 (gmt 0)

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That is the most obvious explanation. But I see the same factor at play for the (crappy) websites of very trusted and old newspapers, which would suggest that:

1) Either Google has created a sort of 'inner circle' based on both 'trust'/'reputation' AND the quality of the website, or
2) There is some other factor that affects smaller websites (as well as some of the legacy players)
3:24 am on Feb 19, 2019 (gmt 0)

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I can also tell from our experience that this 5-6 hour thing doesn't apply in some cases.. some of our stories (say 1 in 25) actually turn up quickly in search results.. as fast as 45 minutes after being indexed.
6:14 am on Mar 19, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Elos I think google news does have an inner circle the same news website get top stories positions all the time
I also seen one website in my niche that has 3 different articles for single keywords in the top stories, one article from today one from 2 days ago and one from 3 or 4 days ago.

No variation for other news website to get a place why give that one website all three positions. The algorithm as they claim obviously favors them