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Question about Google News ranking

does a linked image carry a penalty?

4:20 pm on Jan 29, 2010 (gmt 0)

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One of my recent clients is a fairly large regional newspaper website. A question recently rose from our internal observations on Google News:

An image that accompanies a news article will only show up with the image as a thumbnail in Google News if there is no link under the image.

If the image links to something (a larger version of itself, a gallery, you name it), Google News seems to discard the image and list the news article without a thumbnail.

Our recent observations seem to confirm this theory in around 80% of the cases - too often to be coincidental, but not often enough to be a steadfast rule.

Are there any Google News experts out here who have any information about this? Thanks.