Goodbye News, Hello Top Stories
Posted by Dr-Pete
In October of 2014, Google launched “In the news“, replacing their traditional news vertical results with a broader range of sources from across the web. Last week, Google’s news results were shaken up again with the launch of “Top Stories”, a card-style set of featured stories. Here’s an example from a search for “John Glenn”:
Even John Glenn’s death somehow can’t escape becoming a Trump story, but that’s a topic for another time. What do we know about the shift to “Top Stories”, and does this indicate a change in the way Google defines what’s newsworthy? Let’s start with the data…
The following data was captured on Friday, December 9th across a tracking set of 10,000 keywords. These keywords cover a wide range of categories and types. Prior to the changes last week, “In the news” fluctuated on a weekly cycle (peaking mid-week), but occurred on somewhere between 10-15% of the keywords we track daily:
As of Friday, “In the news” had fallen to less than 2% of searches in the tracking set, and “Top Stories” spiked quickly to almost 13% (in the same range as “In the news” previously). None of the searches in our tracking set had both “In the news” and “Top Stories” on the same results page. It seems clear that “Top Stories” is replacing all news searches, and we can expect “In the news” to be completely phased out soon.
The new “Top Stories” UI has two distinct designs. The card-style design above accounted for 78% of the “Top Stories” results in our data set. The remaining 22% looked like this result for “flu symptoms”:
Like the old “In the news” pack, the vertical “Top Stories” list can have from one to three stories. The horizontal version has three stories in every example in our data set (1,011 total).
Who’s making the news that makes it into “Top Stories”? Across our tracking data set, we recorded 3,605 URLs appearing in “Top Stories” (some were duplicates, appearing across more than one search). Those 3,605 stories came from 1,319 different domains, suggesting that “Top Stories” is still sampling a very broad set of sources. These were the top 10:
- Forbes.com (2.1%)
- NYTimes.com (2.0%)
- USAToday.com (1.7%)
- FoxNews.com (1.2%)
- Bankrate.com (1.0%)
- Reuters.com (1.0%)
- WSJ.com (1.0%)
- CBSNews.com (0.9%)
- CNBC.com (0.9%)
- WashingtonPost.com (0.9%)
The top 10 sources accounted for almost 13% of all stories, and the top 50 accounted for just under 25%. The top 10 generally represented reputable news sources, although you might not think of Bankrate.com as a news source. Bankrate is appearing on commercial searches, such as this one for “buy cars”:
In the context of that particular search, these are fairly reputable sources, but the search itself isn’t one we would usually think of as newsworthy. Like “In the news” before it, Google seems to be casting a wide net with “Top Stories”.
Given the recent interest in fake news stories, some people have speculated that “Top Stories” is Google’s attempt to address dubious news sources. …read more
Source:: Moz Blog