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Google launches new ‘follow news’ feature in US

December 20th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Search

Google News has added a new feature which enables users to save news searches as a bookmark and also add to their Google News homepage.

The ‘follow news’ button is US-only at the moment and a spokesperson said Google does not have “a timeline” to bring the feature to the UK at this point.

Hatip: Search Engine Land

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#Tip of the day from Journalism.co.uk – search engines for journalists

November 4th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Top tips for journalists

David Higgerson has followed up on a previous post on search engines with this new list of alternative search platforms which could be useful for journalists digging for information. Tipster: Rachel McAthy.

To submit a tip to Journalism.co.uk, use this link – we will pay a fiver for the best ones published.

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Americans spending more time consuming news, research suggests

A report carried out every two years by the Pew Research Center suggests Americans are spending more time consuming news now than 10 years ago.

The research, released this week, found that rather than replacing traditional media with digital platforms, consumers spend an additional 13 minutes daily getting news online as well as 57 minutes on average getting news from traditional media such as television, radio and newspapers. In the year 2000 the survey reported a total of 59 minutes was spent by audiences consuming news, with no time reportedly spent consuming news online by respondents until 2004.

According to the report, this is one of the highest totals measured since the mid-1990s, which does not take into account time spent getting news from mobile phones or other digital devices. Only eight per cent of respondents get their news from their mobile.

The news consumption survey recorded the responses from more than 3000 adults from 8 to 28 of June. Other findings include an increase in ‘news-grazers’ who consume the news on a less regular basis from 40 per cent in 2006 to 57 per cent in 2010. The survey also found an increase in the use of search engines for news gathering, rising to 33 per cent from 19 per cent in 2008.

See the report in full here..

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Media Notes: Is journalism becoming a popularity contest?

The battle to increase audiences is hardly a new challenge facing the media environment. Whether print readers, radio listeners or television viewers, it has generally been a case of the more the merrier.

In the world of online journalism, where there is instant access to page view and retweet counters, the ‘success’ of a story has perhaps come to be defined by these metrics. Howard Kurtz, columnist for the Washington Post, has an interesting post on the site this morning discussing the potential impact of this environment on the work of online journalists and the resulting balancing act between appealing to the search engine and maintaining a quality brand.

Naturally, those who grew up as analog reporters wonder: Is journalism becoming a popularity contest? Does this mean pieces about celebrity sex tapes will take precedence over corruption in Afghanistan? Why pay for expensive foreign bureaux if they’re not generating enough clicks?

Doesn’t all this amount to pandering?

Potentially, sure. But news organizations such as the Post and the Times have brands to protect. They can’t simply abandon serious news in favor of the latest wardrobe malfunction without alienating some of their longtime readers. What they gain in short-term hits would cost them in long-term reputation.

See his full post here…

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#Tip of the day from Journalism.co.uk – improve website page speeds

July 27th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Top tips for journalists

Advice from DailyBlogTips on how to improve page load speeds on your site and gain higher rankings in search engines. Tipster: Rachel McAthy. To submit a tip to Journalism.co.uk, use this link – we will pay a fiver for the best ones published.

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Editors Weblog: French government considering ‘Google tax’

January 8th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Online Journalism, Search

The Editors Weblog rounds up reports in the French media of plans to tax Google and other internet giants, including AOL, Microsoft and Facebook.

The tax would fund government proposals to support content creators online and reflects complaints from music and news organisations that search engines and aggregators are making money from free use of their content online.

The recommendation was made as part of the Zelnik report on the online content and advertising industries. French President Nicolas Sarkozy has said he backs some of the proposals, but has made no specific mention of the “Google tax”, according to this Boston.com report.

The French government has taken active steps to help the print and online news industries with schemes such as free newspapers for young readers. Similar fees have previously been proposed for internet service providers by leading editors.

The “Google tax” proposed is reminiscent of a similar scheme suggested by the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) in the UK, which proposed introducing levies for aggregators.

Full story at this link…

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AP: Search engines must pay up, say Murdoch and AP’s Curley

October 9th, 2009 | 4 Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Online Journalism

Publishers must take back control of their content from search engines, aggregators and bloggers, which have become the ‘preferred customer destinations for breaking news’, the Associated Press’ (AP) Tom Curley has said at an industry summit in Beijing.

“We will no longer tolerate the disconnect between people who devote themselves – at great human and economic cost – to gathering news of public interest and those who profit from it without supporting it,” Curley said (though slightly strangely citing Wikipedia, YouTube and Facebook as key examples of threats).

Speaking separately at the event, News Corp owner Rupert Murdoch said ‘the aggregators and plagiarists’ would soon have to pay the price for using publishers’ content for free.

If publishers and news organisations don’t regain control they will pay ‘the ultimate price’ and it will be ‘the kleptomaniacs who triumph’, he added.

Earlier this week the Associated Press (AP) said it is considering whether it could sell news items to online clients for a short, exclusive period.

The agency is also developing a new system for tracking its content online and monitoring copyright infringements.

Full story at this link…

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Malcolm Coles: Michael Jackson’s kids made the Daily Mail the most visited UK newspaper site in June

July 27th, 2009 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Comment, Newspapers, Search, Traffic

This is an edited cross-post from Malcolm Coles’ personal website:

The Daily Mail surprisingly overtook the Telegraph and Guardian in the June ABCes – with more unique visitors than any other UK newspaper.

However it was only 4th in terms of UK visitors. Figures from Compete.com, which tracks Americans’ internet use, suggest that, of the 4.7 million unique users the Mail added from May to June, 1.2 million were from the USA. American and other foreign visitors searching for Michael Jackson’s kids – the Mail tops google.com for a search on this – drove this overseas growth.

US traffic to UK newspaper sites
This is what happened to US traffic for the ‘big three’ UK newspaper websites from May to June, according to Compete.com’s figures:

This dramatic increase in traffic, compared to its rivals, from May to June helps explains how the Mail leapfrogged the Guardian and Telegraph.

Traffic leapt from May to July

Google.com was the main referrer to the Mail – responsible for 22.7 per cent of its traffic. More on this below. Next up was drudgereport.com [a large US news aggregation site], followed by Yahoo.com and Facebook.com.

What was behind this rise in US traffic?
So what led to this sudden increase for the Mail? Compete also shows you the main search terms that lead US visitors to sites.

Top five search terms that lead US visitors to the Guardian

  • Guardian/the guardian: 2.6 per cent
  • Michael Jackson: 0.9 per cent
  • Swine flu symptoms: 0.6 per cent
  • Susan Boyle: 0.6 per cent

Top five search terms that lead US visitors to the Telegraph

  • Michael Jackson: 2.5 per cent
  • Susan Boyle: 0.8 per cent
  • Swine flu symptoms: 0.7 per cent
  • Daily Telegraph: 0.6 per cent
  • Michael Jackson children: 0.5 per cent

Top five search terms that lead US visitors to the Daily Mail

  • Daily Mail/Dailymail: 9.9 per cent
  • Michael Jackson (or Jackson’s) children: 2.9 per cent
  • Michael Jackson’s kids: 1.3 per cent

What does this tell us?The main keywords driving US search traffic to the Mail
The Guardian’s top five search terms, as suggested by Compete.com, accounted for just 4.7 per cent of its search traffic. The Telegraph’s top five for 5.1 per cent.

But the Mail’s top 5 accounted for a massive 14.1 per cent – split between searches for its brand name and for Michael Jackson’s kids (and outside the top five there may have been many other MJ-related terms).

Its search traffic in June is heavily skewed to these two search terms in the USA – and elsewhere in the world, I think it’s reasonable to presume.

Can this last?
Searches in the USA for ‘Daily Mail’ have been fairly consistent over the last few months according to Google Insights. I don’t know why so many people do this compared to other newspapers.

But I do know that interest in Michael Jackson’s kids is going to die down. This graph shows how there was a huge and sudden surge in searches for his children and kids after he died. The graph shows just two search terms – there are likely to be many others, and so a significant proportion of the Mail’s overseas traffic increase is down to search terms related to Jackson’s offspring.

Searches for Michael Jackson and kids/children shot up

This increase in searches translates into traffic for the Mail because it is currently TOP for a search on ‘Michael Jackson children’ at google.com and 3rd for kids (it’s also top in Google India for a search on his children, and India is the next most common source of traffic to the Mail after the UK and USA).

So all this data suggests that the Mail’s top spot in June’s ABCes is built on US and other worldwide search traffic around Jackson’s children – the massive peak in late June and again around his funeral in early July.

Once people stop searching for these terms, this traffic will disappear. The Mail may still top July’s ABCes on the back of this traffic – but it’s hard to believe it will still be top in August.

Methodology
You can, of course, pick holes in this argument.

The three MJ’s kids search terms account for 4.2 per cent of Google traffic, which accounts for 22.7 per cent of 5.2 million visitors – so about 50,000 users.

But I think it’s reasonable to assume that there are more search terms outside the top five; there are other search engines; and that the other sources of traffic, such as people sharing links on Facebook and news aggregators, will also partially be about Jackson’s children.

Plus this is the only publicly available data that I’m aware of, and this is the story it seems to be telling.

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Google European Public Policy Blog: On working with newspapers

July 16th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Newspapers, Search

Josh Cohen, senior business product manager for Google, helpfully reminds news publishers that they can stop Google from indexing their webpages by usint the Robots Exclusion Protocol (REP). Publishers can also set a time period for indexing, for example if content goes into a paid archive after a certain time.

Cohen’s comments follow a declaration from the European Publishers Council last week demanding new intellectual property rights protection.

“Some proposals we’ve seen from news publishers are well-intentioned, but would fundamentally change – for the worse – the way the web works,” he writes.

“Our guiding principle is that whatever technical standards we introduce must work for the whole web (big publishers and small), not just for one subset or field.

“There’s a simple reason behind this. The internet has opened up enormous possibilities for education, learning, and commerce so it’s important that search engines makes it easy for those who want to share their content to do so – while also providing robust controls for those who want to limit access.”

Full post at this link…

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Liverpool Daily Post: Madeleine McCann keywords in every main local news story was ‘oversight’

July 1st, 2009 | 8 Comments | Posted by in Newspapers, Online Journalism, Search

It was an ‘oversight’ that Madeleine McCann related keywords were included in the metadata for every main local news story on the Liverpool Daily Post site, a Trinity Mirror spokeperson said, after Journalism.co.uk informed the company that the terms were present in the ‘hidden text’ of a series of unrelated news items.

The automatic inclusion of the keywords “madeleine mccann, madeleine mcgann, kate mcgann, kate mccann” in the HTML for Liverpool news stories has now ceased.

Journalism.co.uk learned in May that specific keywords, including those above, were used in the metadata for the ‘Liverpool News Headlines’ section on the Liverpool Daily Post site, regardless of the story’s relevance. This continued for at least one month before it was drawn to the Post’s attention on Monday (June 29).

Use of unrelated ‘hidden’ metadata is commonly known as ‘keyword stuffing’, a practice which Google firmly discourages. Using popular keywords can help improve a site’s SEO performance. [Update: Google and most other search engines are no longer believed (Wikipedia link here) to recognise these tags: see Lammo.net post at this link.]

Google search results for “Madeleine McCann + Liverpool” shows that the Post and its sister site, the Liverpool Echo, have top rankings for related Madeleine McCann stories. [Update: but lower rankings when a simple Madeleine McCann search is performed. It's unlikely the addition of the keywords aided the LDP's Google ranking. Google says: "While accurate meta descriptions can improve clickthrough, they won't impact your ranking within search results."]

A Trinity Mirror spokesman said: “The metadata was inserted some time ago when the Madeleine McCann story was at its height and was the most-searched item on our web sites. It was inserted to make it easier for our users to access a huge story of national and local interest. The fact that it wasn’t removed is an oversight, which has now been put right.”

The evidence (before Liverpool Daily Post corrected the error this week):

A story about Len Williams, a well-known waterfront manager who recently died.

Waterfront

Keywords in the HTML version:
LENkeywords1
LENkeywords2

livpostlen

The section of the site which used these keywords for all stories:

livnews

Google’s  definition:

“‘Keyword stuffing’ refers to the practice of loading a webpage with keywords in an attempt to manipulate a site’s ranking in Google’s search results. Filling pages with keywords results in a negative user experience, and can harm your site’s ranking. Focus on creating useful, information-rich content that uses keywords appropriately and in context.

“To fix this problem, review your site for misused keywords. Typically, these will be lists or paragraphs of keywords, often randomly repeated. Check carefully, because keywords can often be in the form of hidden text, or they can be hidden in title tags or alt attributes.

“Once you’ve made your changes and are confident that your site no longer violates our guidelines, submit your site for reconsideration.”

A definition by Nathan Campbell on SEO.com:

“Some unethical SEOs choose to employ renegade tactics such as keyword stuffing. Keyword stuffing is overloading the content or meta tags of the web page with every possible keyword or phrase that relates to the site in many different forms.”

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