USA Today & BBC Tricking Google News With Old Stories?

Jul 19, 2013 • 8:44 am | comments (6) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine

Google NewsIt appears that some major news publications such as USA Today and the BBC are tricking Google News to rank their older stories at the top of the Google News sections.

By tricking I mean, they are having their older stories show up as recent stories in those Google News sections.

I've been following this Google News Help thread for about three weeks now. Honestly, I assume at first it was a bug of some sorts either on Google or USA Today's side. But now that it has been going on for so long, I think something else is going on.

For example, USA Today has this story currently in the top spot in the Entertainment section of Google News:

usa today google news 14 minutes

It says 14 minutes old, right?

Click through to the story, and you will see it was published yesterday before noon.

usa today google news

Chris, a top contributor in the Google News forum said he did pass this along to Google to investigate, they are looking into it but he has no update.

Do you think this is an intentional Google News manipulation by these publications or not?

Forum discussion at Google News Help.

Update: Google responded to my press request to tell me the issue is being addressed. What the issue was, I currently do not know but I am trying to find out.

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07/19/2013 01:02 pm

Just ran a search for Chris Froome to get TODAY'S news and The Guardianstates in the SERPS -2 hours ago - but was actually published last night at 17.19 BST = 22 hours old! USA TODAY-40 minutes ago = 6:53 p.m. EDT July 18, 2013 = 20 hours old! What's going on?

Michael Merritt

07/19/2013 01:04 pm

Isn't this just a case of the time on Google News being whenever the search engine posted the story to its site, like in the main results? Or does News work differently?

Torben Henke

07/19/2013 02:21 pm

Guy? Isn't this a simple case of sitemap timestamps? Whenever an editor changes something in the article the timestamp in the sitemap is updated. But the editor does NOT change the publish date in the article (why should he?) 2013-07-18T23:27:42Z Google then uses this time in the results. I have the same behaviour with a wiki, were every change in the text changes the date Google shows in the serps. And its not like those articles are a year old. Every example you post here has less than 24 hours difference. Does not seem like a "trick" to me.

The C Man

07/19/2013 02:51 pm

It's across the board and not just on these sites. Seems to resemble what happened when AOL updated it's system and those who had moved everything to Gmail got them over again. It could be a renewal but it could also be Google's crawlers picking up stories they had not seen before and ignoring the dates.

Dennis Miedema

08/05/2013 02:28 pm

I think you may be right. The last modified date in the sitemap may be doing this. If it's not, then it must be manipulation.


12/12/2013 11:27 pm

The fishy part is that these sites never go more than 15 minutes old. Doesn't seem to be random updating, at least on USA Today's part.

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