Mainstream Publishers Want Google to Change their Algorithm to Favor Them

AdAge has a story about how some mainstream publishers want Google to favor them in their algorithm. To which most of SEW readers would probably say, “Welcome to my world!”

I have just one question for the publishers. “If Google came to you and asked you only for favorable coverage of their brand, would you give it to them?”

Some of the publishers’ points are valid. At times, Google’s results – especially when it comes to current events – can be a bit outdated. Mainstream publishers want to see links at the top of the results for their stories.

Why their stories over bloggers or other non-mainstream sites? BBC The New York Times argues that because they have a man on the ground in a place like Gaza, that their site should trump blogger commentary, for example.

But the very fact that the BBC The New York Times and mainstream publishers are lobbying Google suggests that their problem lies in their own business model. Either they are refusing to get involved with SEO and/or paid search, or they are not producing content that people want – even with eyes on the ground. Or both.

And that’s why not all publishers are complaining. As Vanity Fair columnist Michael Wolff told AdAge:

Sometimes it’s true that you’d rather get what The New York Times has to say about something rather than a host of bloggers. But more interestingly it’s not always true. And it is in fact less and less true.

Of course, the biggest irony of all is the rocky history Google has had with newspapers. Some publishers have sued Google for copyright issues. Now that print is dying and consumers are increasingly going online for news, they want Google’s favor.

Still, Google may be listening. A recent algorithm change does seem to favor brands, though Google denies it.

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