Look Out Blogs: Google News Gains Options To Drop Blogs & Press Releases

Tired of seeing blogs or press releases in your Google News homepage? Google’s got a cure for that, new settings that allow you to see fewer results from these sources, or none at all. That may cause some “blogs” to consider asking Google to reclassify them as news sources.

You’ll find the new options on the Google News settings page, which Search Engine Land news editor Barry Schwartz spotted via the Google support forums. They appear as follow:

For both “Blogs” and “Press Releases,” the default is to show a “normal” amount of content from those sources. Other options are:

  • None
  • Fewer
  • More

The settings appear to only control headlines displayed on your Google News personalized home page. News search results might not be impacted by this. I’m checking further about it.

(Postscript: I mentioned there’s an option to also see more content from blogs in my original story, as show in the bulletpoints above. I’m reemphasizing that now. However, I suspect most people won’t use it to show more).

Another new feature is the ability to have the Google News home page auto-reload every fifteen minutes.

Time To Stop Being A Blog?

Back in September 2009, Google started classifying some news sources as blogs. It was never really clear how Google determined this. Looking today, I still see nothing within Google News that explains what it considers to be a blog versus a news source.

Google Blog Search considers anything with an RSS feed to be a blog, last I looked closely at it, which means it really should be called “Google Feed Search” not Google Blog Search. So it provides no real help understanding what Google considers to be a “blog” or not.

Sites can, when they submit to Google News, classify themselves as a blog, as the submission form shows below:

But some sites that were classified as blogs when Google began marking them that way in 2009  might not have used this form. I know that we didn’t. But for whatever reason, Google tagged us as a blog back then.

I didn’t really mind much when it happened. Blog? News source? It had no impact on how you were listed in Google News. But now, blogs definitely get to be second-class citizens within Google News, with an option to filter them out entirely.

That makes me not want to be a “blog” any longer, especially when we are arguably also a news source. Many others may be in the same situation.

I’m checking with Google for advice on how to change your designation. But back in September 2009, Google said to use this form if you were misclassified. That’s what I’d recommend people use, for now.

Postscript: Here’s a quick update of what I received back from Google:

As of Friday, all editions of Google News have new features in News Settings that let you ask not to see news from press releases or blogs in Top Stories, News for You, section pages and News search results, and decide whether to automatically reload the homepage every 15-minutes. Prior to this, you could opt to see fewer, more or a normal volume of press releases or blogs. We added a “none” dial to the spectrum.

Q: Does this block blogs and releases from all of Google News or just personalized home pages?

A: These new settings options have been added to all editions of Google News, and are retained for signed in users. If you tell us you never want to see a particular outlet, or don’t want to see press releases or posts from blogs, then we will omit them from the Top Stories, News for You, section pages and News search results.

Q: How does Google News define what a blog is?

A: We examine a variety of signals that we detect from Web sites. We do, however, primarily rely on self-identification: if a site tells us it’s a blog in its site name, for instance, we obey that preference. For example, Search Engine Land is not designated as a blog in Google News.

Q: How do sites that have been labeled blogs get reclassified?

A: Publishers can contact our Publisher Support team via our Help Center: http://www.google.com/support/news_pub/bin/request.py?hl=en&contact_type=site_update&rd=1

Q: Why the new feature?

A: We want to give signed-in users more choice and control over how often they see different types of sources in their personalized Google News. U.S. users can turn off personalization by clicking on the “Standard U.S. Edition” link at the bottom of the page, or signing out.

I was surprised to see that Search Engine Land wasn’t classified as a blog. When classification started back in 2009, we were listed that way. I also thought that we still were listed that way. But looking again after I got this Google response, no — the “blog” designation was dropped at some point over time.

Google said there were no major classification changes that have been made to redefine what’s a blog or not since the designation began being used. It also noted that sites like TechCrunch and GigaOm are NOT listed as blogs, while Bits at the New York Times is listed as one.

Related Topics: Channel: Content | Google: News | Top News

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About The Author: is a Founding Editor of Search Engine Land. He’s a widely cited authority on search engines and search marketing issues who has covered the space since 1996. Danny also serves as Chief Content Officer for Third Door Media, which publishes Search Engine Land and produces the SMX: Search Marketing Expo conference series. He has a personal blog called Daggle (and keeps his disclosures page there). He can be found on Facebook, Google + and microblogs on Twitter as @dannysullivan.

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  • http://www.planetc1.com/ Michael Dorausch

    From a user perspective I think this is great but I’m a bit confused as to how Google determines news site vs blog. Take SEL as an example of a ‘news site’ that runs on WordPress (a blog platform). There’s multiple authors, unbiased and objective reporting, and breaking industry news. I’d imagine SEL would easily fit into the news category but I’m not certain on similar sites running on ‘blog’ platforms. Suppose I’ll start testing and find out.

  • Matt McGee

    Google News is terrible at determining what a blog is versus what a news site is. And as Michael points out, the definition of a blog is not a black/white matter.

  • http://www.techmedianetwork.com Robert Roy Britt

    Big question: What about sites that pose as news sites but effectively only post regurgitated press releases?

  • Simon

    I share the concerns of Michael Dorausch. I run a news site that got lumped into the blog category. With multiple authors we needed a platform that was simple, and WordPress fits our needs.

    It would be very informative if Google were to share the ‘rules of engagement’ with their News system. It seems to me that everyone and their dog can happily republish material from AP or another stream without fear. Where does ‘duplicate content’ enter the game?

    What constitutes a blog? What constitutes a valid News site?

    Unlike other aspects of Google I can see no reason why they are not willing to share the information. Alas the SEO world is so tied up in the commercial aspects of the Web that no-one has any time for exploring the world of news. Take a break from selling Womens Purses or whatever. The news industry is in a shambles, I could rite a book on it, the last bastion of independent news is online. Now, that seems to be cracking at the seams.

    Please tell me if I am wrong?

    Simon

  • http://www.michael-martinez.com/ Michael Martinez

    I think this is a good change but I would like the ability to block Wikipedia from the news results. It has no business being there.

  • http://www.seokoeln.de schikowski

    At least people have the option to get more content from blogs as well as reduce or drop it entirely. But this absolutely require Google to distinguish between blogs and news sites correctly, and it’s terrible that they get it wrong in many cases.

  • http://www.gamerstube.com Joe Youngblood

    All hail the powerful Google. your blog is not a blog, be happy we spared you from the blocking that comes now

  • http://www.gravitationalfx.com G.F.X.

    Google are getting a bit gung-ho at the moment with their lack of telling people how they are classifying content.

    With the Panda update it was an issue with what is high and low quality content.

    As you guys have pointed out, where does one draw the line between news and blog?

    I agree with Robert Roy Britt that there are a lot of sites that “regurgitate” content, however, isn’t that what news sites do, even the larger nation media ones look around for other peoples stories and aggregate it.

    Of course copying content verbatim and passing it off as your own without permission, and even worse making money from that, is not condoned.

    It would be very interesting to get a comment from Google as how they define the differences between Blog and News Source.

  • http://www.ericward.com Eric Ward

    I understand the intent and have always wondered why press releases were considered news, but blogs open a can-o-worms. A major news outlet with multiple contributors that publishes via wordpress is completely different than a “citizen journalist” who uses the identical wordpress CMS to whine about local politics. So you can’t just say a blog is a blog is a blog. So Google has to make the distinction between blog content quality in choosing which blogs get the axe. And that brings us right back to the link graph. A site like SEL will produce content that attracts links shares, tweets, likes, etc in a pattern that is much different than JoeBobBlogger, so it seems to me that it’s not so much whether you define it as a “blog”, but whether anyone is listening (and linking) to what you write. GIGO.

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