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New Details About Google’s News-Ranking Algorithm Revealed in Patent

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Editor's Note: See Update/Correction below.

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What is the secret of ranking well in Google News? A recent ComputerWorld article has revealed new insights into Google’s news-ranking algorithm, based on information from a patent filed by Google in February 2012.

The patent reveals the following potential factors considered by Google’s ranking algorithm:

  • Number of articles produced by a news organization during a given time period.
  • Average length of articles from a news organization.
  • Importance of coverage from the news organization.
  • Circulation/syndication of the story.
  • Size of the staff associated with the news organization.
  • Number of news bureaus a news organization has.
  • Number of original named entities used in the story.
  • Writing style.
  • Number of non-duplicate articles produced by the news organization.
  • Breaking news score, which is measured as the ability of the news organization to publish a story soon after the event has occurred.

Since Google News is the largest aggregator of news content on the Web, and its news results play a prominent role in many organic search results pages, these factors will be of particular interest to SEO professionals attempting to improve their organization’s visibility in search results.

These factors also reveal some interesting information about some of the factors that Google may consider in its regular organic search results. For example, does a high frequency of article publication boost the rankings of all a website’s articles? Does average article length play a significant role, and if so, would that length vary by niche/industry? How does Google calculate writing style, and how large of a role does it play?

Optify last year examined three types of major breaking news events and the resulting opportunities for ranking on Google, as well as Bing, noting Google gives ranking preference to authority websites during breaking news. "Google News: Key Ranking Factors [Study]" provides additional tips.

Update/Correction: Bill Slawski of SEO by the Sea has pointed out to us that the ComputerWorld article is actually based on Google News ranking signals from 2003. The patent is the third version, which is substantially the same as the patent originally filed in 2003. As Slawski's "The Traditional News Agency is Dead (On Google News)" points out:

In February of 2012, a new version of the Google patent was published as a pending application. (A second version was granted in 2012). The third version has the same name as the first version, and it has substantially the same description section as the first version. What’s different is the “claims” section. The claims section of the new version of the patent starts off with:

1-31. (canceled)

Gone are things like the “circulation statistics of the news source,” the “number of bureaus associated with the news source,” and other things associated with the kind of journalism that’s done in print.


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