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