Google accidentally removes news publishers from Google News

Google has accidentally removed a number of news publishers from Google News over the past few days. Many news publishers were found complaining in the Google News forums. Google has confirmed with Search Engine Land that this was accidental.
We do expect those publishers to be reinstated into Google News by the end of the day.
Maricia Scott, engineering director Google News, told us:
We apologize for the issue that resulted in a number of sites being delisted from Google News. This was an unintentional technical issue and not something we did manually. We are working hard to identify the sites that were incorrectly affected and will get them back in as soon as we possibly can.
You can check if your news site is included in Google News by conducting a site command in Google News or searching for recent story headlines in Google News. You can also check your index status in the Google News Publisher Center.
If you no

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European press agencies push for licensing fees for their content from Google, Facebook

Google has faced off several times against European news publishers and governments in Germany and Spain, seeking to get the company to pay copyright fees for the indexing of news content. Google has largely prevailed in these instances. However, that hasn’t deterred publishers from continuing to make the case that the US internet giants should pay for their content.
A new consortium of nine European press agencies is now arguing that Google and Facebook make money from news content and pay little or nothing for it. They also assert that news organizations — “a pillar of democracy” — are financially vulnerable, while Facebook’s and Google’s profits are soaring.
Google (and presumably Facebook) take the position that inclusion and exposure of publisher content drive online traffic and therefore is a benefit rather than a detriment. Indeed, when German publishers had their snippets and thumbnails removed from Google in the wake of a dispute over a 2013 “Ancillary Copyright” Law, they

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Google Trends now shows data for YouTube search, Google Shopping, News search & Image search

Google is adding new filters to its trends data, making it possible to see search trends beyond web search. Now, you can find real-time search trends on specific search terms within YouTube, News and Image searches, along with Google Shopping.
“We’re opening up more data to show what people in the world are looking for, as they’re looking for it,” writes Google on its The Keyword blog.
To see trends filtered by the specific search trends, first choose the search term you want to research. For example, if want to see search trends for Rihanna on YouTube, select Rihanna the singer on the Trends search bar.

From there, you can select to see search trends for “Rihanna” on Image search, News search, Google Shopping and YouTube search from the drop-down menu under Web Search.

Within each of the search trend filters, there is data for “Interest over time” and “Interest by region,” as well as a list of “Related topics” and

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Google tries to bring more transparency to news content with help from The Trust Project

Machines got us into this mess, but humans may help get us out of it. In the wake of the 2016 election and the ongoing manipulation of news by foreign governments and domestic trolls, Google, Facebook and Twitter have endured intensifying criticism and had to face the limitations of their algorithms as arbiters of truth.
These issues have been well-documented but most recently arose again in the wake of the Las Vegas and Texas church mass shootings. Google, YouTube and others were duped by parties seeking to spread false information about the identity of the shooters in each case.
Among other efforts to combat the proliferation of fake news and false information in search, Google announced that it’s teaming up with The Trust Project, which was founded by Craig Newmark of Craigslist but is now run by the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University in Northern California.
In a blog post, Google explains:
The Project, which is funded

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Google News adds new referral URL source that publishers should begin tracking

Google has quietly announced in its Google News forum that they have added a new URL referrer source that news publishers should begin tracking to get a “comprehensive view of traffic from Google News.” In addition to tracking referrals from news.google.com, publishers should also track referrals from news.url.google.com.
The change seems to be connected to the new RSS feed changes with Google News that we reported recently.
Google said that referrals from the source “news.google.com” include traffic from native mobile apps, mobile web and RSS feeds set up with the legacy URL pattern. Referrals from the source “news.url.google.com” include traffic from desktop and RSS feeds set up with the new URL pattern.
It is unclear if Google Analytics has already updated to support the new referral changes, but one would assume it would be one of the first analytics packages to update its tools.
If you are using custom analytics or a third-party analytics tool, make sure to communicate to the developers that

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Google adds new knowledge panel to provide information about news publishers

Google has announced a new knowledge graph card for news publishers in which searchers can learn more about a specific news publication directly in the search results.
Google said this will help searchers learn about “a publication you’re not familiar with or one you wanted to learn more about.” The knowledge panels also give searchers faster access to information about a publisher and can help Google address the misinformation and fake news issues it has been fighting for some time now.
The news publisher knowledge graph will show topics the publisher commonly covers, major awards the publisher has won and claims the publisher has made that have been reviewed by third parties.
Here is a screen shot of this feature from Google:

Google explains there is no way to directly control which publishers are able to surface the new knowledge graphs and what information is shown but offers these tips:
Like search results, many factors go into what’s shown in the Knowledge

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Google adds structured data for subscription & paywalled content for new flexible sampling program

We reported earlier this morning that Google is doing away with the old “first click free” program and replacing it with flexible sampling. In short, Google is giving publishers more options for allowing search users to access their content without hurting ranking visibility in Google search results.
With that, Google has introduced a new paywall structured data element for subscription and paywalled content.
Google recommends publishers use this new markup when they are deploying flexible sampling techniques on their web sites. This will help Google understand that the publisher is not cloaking — when sites serve different content to Googlebot than users — and that it is an approved paywall.
Google says, “This structured data helps Google differentiate paywalled content from the practice of cloaking, which violates our guidelines.”
Here are the technical documents on this new structured data element. Here is the help document on the new flexible sampling for webmasters.
The post Google adds structured data for subscription & paywalled

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Report: Google ending ‘first click free’ to help publishers boost subscriptions

According to a report (registration required) in The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), Google is ending its “first click free” (FCF) program, which provides users access to content behind publisher subscription paywalls when they click through from Google results. The move is intended to help boost subscription rates.
According to the story, Google will allow publishers to offer FCF on a voluntary basis, but failure to do so won’t result in any rankings hit. FCF was introduced in 2007 as a way to expose subscription content to search users so that they wouldn’t be frustrated by paywalls and to help them test-drive content as an enticement to later subscribe.
As Google explained at the time it wrote about the program:
First Click Free is a way for publishers to share their subscription-only content with Google News readers. All articles that are accessed from Google News are allowed to skip over the subscription page . . .We like to think of First click free as

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Google News gets a cleaner look, new features to make it ‘more accessible’

It’s difficult to believe that Google News is 15 years old. In that time, it has been through a number of feature changes and minor redesigns. The last major redesign was in 2010, but today it’s getting another one.
The idea is to add feature and content depth but also simplify the layout and navigation. I spoke with Anand Paka, the Google News product manager. He said the redesign intends to connect users with more quality journalism and to make Google News more accessible to everyone and less of a power user product.

By the same token, Paka told me that Google News is adding “more facts, perspectives and context.” So, in addition to being simpler to use, it has more depth. The Google-provided screen shot above shows a side-by-side comparison of the old and new layouts.
The former layout (left) is very link-dense. The new layout (right) is easier to scan visually. It also offers cleaner navigation and is more personalized. Google is also making video more prominent throughout.
The top of

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Wall Street Journal’s Google traffic drops 44% after pulling out of First Click Free

In February, The Wall Street Journal stopped participating in a program allowing Google visitors to bypass its paywall. The publication has now discovered, as was predicted, that it no longer gets as much traffic from Google.
In an interview with Bloomberg, The Wall Street Journal reported that its Google traffic plunged 44 percent after leaving the “First Click Free” program.
First Click Free allows visitors from Google to access articles that are normally behind paywalls for free, when they click to them from Google’s search results. Many publishers participate in the program because they find the traffic and related ad-revenue offsets potential lost subscription revenue.
When a publisher is not in the program, Google cannot fully index the articles it publishes. That means those articles are less likely to appear for a wider range of topics. That can hurt potential traffic from Google. In addition, such articles are also listed with a “subscription” designation next to them, which might put

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