Google Shifts News Delivery Part 2

Again I'll venture off topic from the "local search marketing" scene to changes implemented by Google News over the weekend. The clearest example I have relates to how I report fire news from my hobby blog, Firefighter Blog.

Normally, up to this last Friday you could type in the name of a major wildfire into Google News and were presented with a couple of hundred news links from newspapers worldwide. Most of the links were to the same article licensed from UPI or AP, duplication was the order. Quaint but useless to read the same article from India, China and other points on the globe. This point was made beautifully in the screencast linked to in the post below.

Here is the immediate "new Google" news world I am seeing. Try a search for the 8,000 acre wildfire burning out of control in Henry Coe State Park in California named The "Lick Fire"....

Google News results for Lick Fire

You see the UPI story as well as 86 related stories but when you follow the link to the 86 related stories you really only see about 20. Among those results are only a couple from out of the area and most are unique, written by local journalists.

This would cause me to alter my reasoning Google will kill local journalism if this is the way they are headed. Indeed if this is Google's intended path local journalists will be rewarded on the new look Google News. Before this weekend local news sources were buried by larger dailies like the Houston Chronicle and Washington Post as well as the Chinese new agencies.

For purposes related to Firefighter Blog there may be a down side. Normally I am successful posting about a fire event and having Google index the blog content on their blog search engine quickly. For some time now I have been able to trump local newspapers on Google Blog SERPs on these incidents.
Now two quick (and relevant) posts on the Lick Fire have drawn blanks. Google has strangely decided to ignore Firefighter Blog altogether. If you want Google Blog Search results for the Lick Fire you are served up near useless information for the keyword phrase.
Embarrassingly you see little but X-rated blogs related to licking and some odd blog posts about the Lick Fire on Flickr and even (gasp) MySpace.
Approximately two weeks ago I noticed Google Blog Search results showing local television news station stories about the Zaca Fire.. These were clearly not blogs, not even in the same category and I wondered how Google missed that. Now I believe they were tests.

So my conclusion is if this holds Google will downplay blog results in favor of pushing local news on the main Google News pages. This would be going backwards in my opinion. Blogs are only now finding their feet as contributors to breaking news events. My logs show a definite hunger for blog coverage of news events.

I am not drawing any hard conclusions just yet, what I am seeing may just be further testing by Google. If this is the way it will be in the future it looks like the local journalist will get top billing by Google. If so that's a good thing for newspapers and their employees. It will also force bloggers of good intent to keep up best practices to invite return readers.

Just when I thought I had it all figured out too.....

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