Google News Cheat: Refreshing Article Titles

Nov 11, 2013 • 8:16 am | comments (55) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google News & Finances

Google NewsIn 2009, Google News began reindexing and refreshing stories after they were initially indexed, to make sure to pick up on story corrections. This was a good thing.

But recently, there has been an uptick of abuse around this. One disgruntled Google News subscriber posted in the Google News Help forums that one site is refreshing their article titles several times a day in order to keep their stories up at the top of the Google News landing pages.

He wrote:

I am concerned about a recent development in Google News. As a long time reader of the science page, I have noticed that the Register is changing the titles of different articles in order to regain a front page placement.

He then documented five different title changes to a single story in a single day. All resulting in keeping the story fresh on the Google News home pages.

USA Today and BBC were accused of cheating the Google News system by spoofing the article refresh date - although Google said it was a bug.

Is this tactic a cheat or just a repercussion of continuous editing?

Forum discussion at Google News Help.

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Michael Martinez

11/11/2013 02:32 pm

Yeah, I caught the New York Times doing something similar a couple of months ago and blogged about it. Nice to see all the "big" guys have learned their lessons about sneaky manipulation of the search results.


11/11/2013 02:43 pm

Ah, one rule for them and another for the rest of us. Makes sense really ;)

Stuart David

11/11/2013 02:44 pm

Glad this has been brought up, as you have reported before, it's been happening for a long time. all the big boys continue to do it to manipulate there placement, it really does render Google News unreliable when looking for the latest news on a topic. Others like Daily Mail use tactics of extracting whole paragraphs of a story, placing it into a new story in different positions adding small sentences at the top with a new title and reposting, and then they get top spot all over again.

Durant Imboden

11/11/2013 03:45 pm

I think it's a cheat. Just a day or two ago, I clicked on a UK newspaper headline in Google News that took me to the same AP story that I'd read in the same newspaper (via Google News) a day earlier. The headline and photo were changed, but the story was "same old, same old."


11/11/2013 04:04 pm

It's time to raise the question - Why does everyone want to cheat Google ? I don't think, that chief editors of these media monsters are cheaters by their nature, same as millions of small publishers ... I see only one possible explanation - no one relies on Google as the permanent business partner. It's not like we don't want to, it's more like Google doesn't allow us to. When everything is shifting on almost daily basis, when neither we nor chief editors of media monsters don't know what to expect tomorrow from Google, when Google takes the approach of the God Father ..... what else should we do ? Google doesn't care about us, why should we care about it ? And Matt Cutts asks to provide the examples of the spam ... Sorry man, no more friends left to help you. Sad, but true. You are by yourself, we are by ourselves. Amen.

Durant Imboden

11/11/2013 04:12 pm

Google isn't your "business partner." It's a search engine. And even if it did want to be a "business partner," people would cheat.


11/11/2013 04:20 pm

The Daily Mail are terrible, one of Google's biggest critics but also one of the worst abusers. It's a shame Google don't penalise sites for spelling mistakes!

Stuart David

11/11/2013 04:32 pm

I was going to say exactly this! They ruin Google in every article about them but Google give that rag so much space to sprout there crap! Surely it won't be long until Google treat them correctly and stop directing millions a day to them


11/11/2013 04:33 pm

How do you know about MY business partners ? Anyway, since Google uses MY publications to attract visitors to ITS search engine and since Google buys ad spaces from me - it is my business partner. It became unreliable, but unfortunately I have to deal with it. Same as most of the web developers. Durant, no offence, but after I visited your web property I don't consider your opinion as valuable. I'm polite guy and have to reply you, but please don't waste my time in the future. Thanks )

The Anti Cutts

11/11/2013 04:33 pm

>>>Sorry man, no more friends left to help you.

Stuart David

11/11/2013 04:33 pm

You're coming out with some real sense this past month. Keep the insights up!


11/11/2013 04:35 pm

Nope. Daily Mail is popular. Just watch how many comments it collects. Google features what is popular.

Stuart David

11/11/2013 04:39 pm

Have to agree with JC - they are a business partner, they buy ad space, they are however the best in the world for finding loop holes not to pay when comes to payday and treating everyone with such contempt. They're definetly not considered a long term partner.


11/11/2013 04:40 pm

The people within these organizations who are responsible for putting eyeballs in front of the content found a loophole that works to accomplish this. This will be exploited as long as they can. I don't really think that this is any indication of what those media outlets think about Google as a business partner, it is just an updated version of having the most eye-catching headlines on the newsstand. Now the newsstand is updated constantly and populated by thousands of competitors at any given time...snappy headlines still matter...but so does staying on top of the pile. They simply found a way to stay on top of the pile...for now. And of course things are shifting on a daily basis in the news section, it is updated constantly as new sources publish and new stories are released. It would seem that the chief editors know exactly what to expect from the news section right now and know exactly how to exploit it.

Stuart David

11/11/2013 04:40 pm

They churn out a bucket load per month, just thing is large selection of that is rehashed content


11/11/2013 04:40 pm

Then all web2.0 must be penalized. Not to mention, that only American dialect of the English language has 12 inner dialects (as far as I remember). English by itself has tens of dialects. What is mistake for you, can be proper grammar for Australians. Don't be snob )

Durant Imboden

11/11/2013 04:41 pm

I've been using Google AdSense on and off since 2003, and I've never had any payment issues. Mind you, I don't see what that has to do with the topic of Barry's post, which is about newspapers trying to trick Google News by refreshing news stories several times a day.

John Terris

11/11/2013 04:41 pm

Isn't that what you are doing Durant? Screwing google and screwing Barry's website? You have no interest in helping anyone here. You simply take the pro-google stance because it suits your purpose. Pretending to be the good guy while manipulating the system by getting people to search google for your name which is your brand. Shame on you! I don't normally whistle blow but I think there comes a point where people need to see how devious the apparent "good guys" are , many of them buddies warming up to Matt Cutts and supporting his nonsense.


11/11/2013 04:43 pm

And their print version is just as bad. Repetitive crap, recycled...but is popular. Just like JustConsumer said, Google features what is popular. ::insert big long conversation about popularity over relevant and factual in the media; online, print, radio, television, beamed directly onto the backs of your eyelids, etc...::

Stuart David

11/11/2013 04:44 pm

Well, JC brought up the point, others discussed it (you included) and then i added my two cents, that's the way discussions work


11/11/2013 04:46 pm

Thanks )


11/11/2013 04:46 pm

...or the guy has an opinion about the current state of Google search that differs from your own. Just accept that these may simply be his opinions. Calm down about it. The obsession with seeing and calling those who think differently as 'shills' or any other overused insult implying nefarious intent is ridiculous.


11/11/2013 04:49 pm

They go on about privacy invasion, yet when it comes to declaring their cookie usage they don't seem keen on making a big point of it. In fact it's the very last link at the bottom of their pages.

Stuart David

11/11/2013 04:52 pm

Yeah spot on - i think Google played a big role in their popularity boost over the years as well giving them that ongoing increased exposure


11/11/2013 04:56 pm

"They simply found a way to stay on top of the pile" I absolutely agree with you, but you have to admit that the way they found is tricky. Would you deal with the reliable and permanent business partner using tricks ? Obviously not. I wouldn't for sure ) That's why the only explanation I see is - they are doing "suck the traffic and run" business. If even THEY do this, then, I believe, it's possible to make deep conclusions.

John Terris

11/11/2013 04:57 pm

Lets see whose comments become more popular. Put it to the acid test. Unless of course you are logging on here with a different IP address and browser/screen resolution to trick Barry!


11/11/2013 05:25 pm

Oh, I certainly admit it is a tricky way. I am not sure about the deep conclusions part of your argument though. Just because they are larger/more well known/traditional media outlets, doesn't mean they are going to use their online content in a different way than independent news blogs. In fact, I would argue that the online news landscape is very similar to the traditional print media is, as you put it, 'suck traffic and run'. In print it is 'put this media in front of as many eyes as possible with new content each and every day so we can sell advertisements on it'... In the online landscape it is 'put this media in front of as many eyes as possible with new content as often as we can possibly manage so we can sell advertisements on it'... The only difference here is the frequency that updated information/news is expected by the consuming public. In print it was daily (and for awhile twice daily), online it is as often as possible. It is that 'often as possible' which explains exploiting the loophole of changing the title on a story in an attempt to attract new readers at new times of the day. And yes, that is tricky, but in my opinion, the obvious extension in business model as print attempts to make the change to online.


11/11/2013 05:35 pm

But in print they don't ruin distributors ) And online they do ruin. Here is the proof : "One disgruntled Google News subscriber posted in the Google News Help forums that one site is refreshing their article titles several times a day in order to keep their stories up at the top of the Google News landing pages." That's the difference in their approach to different business partners. They obviously don't care about Google at all. And my question was - Why ? I don't see a lot of possible answers. Do you ?


11/11/2013 06:08 pm

I been hearing rumors that Google is about to get hit by a huge Privacy scandal soon regarding users privacy data being breached deliberately by Google. Has anybody else heard about this?


11/11/2013 06:22 pm

Google has them all in their greedy pocket. Don`t expect too much fuss.


11/11/2013 07:50 pm

Does anyone seriously think this will work with a small news site? Seems like all the talk is baout the bigger news sites that we all know now (along with big brand regular websites) get away with whatever they want to do on Google.

James R. Halloran

11/11/2013 09:37 pm

Just sheer laziness or not enough staff on hand to write updated versions of the story (or both). With the news industry massively downsizing its numbers, I'm not surprised news agencies are trying to cheat the system. They obviously don't have the manpower to write updated versions of the story throughout the day that would legitimately place them on the top of the rankings. But still, it's not an excuse to rig the system this way. It's annoying, especially when there actually is an update on the same story, but all you can find is one from earlier in the day.


11/12/2013 06:52 am

No, I don't believe this is true James. I've seen countless websites purely update the titles of an existing news article just to push their Google News results back to the top - it's very common. When you publish a new news story, sometimes it won't rank if you have an older story already in there, so if you update the older news story, it will push up to the top again (in most cases).

John Warne

11/12/2013 08:42 am

I think many portals are doing the same thing and cheat with Google


11/12/2013 11:08 am

The "Cheat" is common practise in Germany since 2011 in different variations. I would say US-News-Publishers are rather slow to start using it now. Google didnt fix it till now in GNews Germany and there has been no penalisation either.


11/12/2013 01:03 pm

That's a fair point. Possible answers? I don't know enough about how they decide to rank articles to begin to venture a solution. But I think it is a problem no matter where lots of people come to read from lots of publishers: someone is going to try and game the system and put their product on top of the heap. The fact that it is now virtual means that loop holes can be found without having to go to the owners of newsstands and hand them a wad of cash for eye-level exposure.

Byron Hardie

11/12/2013 08:24 pm

There have been loopholes in the ranking algorithms from the beginning. Reciprocal linking became Link farms and Link Pyramids then Link Wheels all in an attempt to make things "look" natural. But it was all just a loophole that people found; some way to get a leg up on the competition. Then it was low quality guest posting that was supposedly "white hat" until Penguin came along. There was over-optimization and keyword stuffing until Google began to close those loopholes as well. The list really goes on and on. It is up to Google to shut down the manipulation or detect and penalize its abuse. There will always be people that want to find an edge and good for them for being creative enough to find it and execute on it. I don't think there is some moral obligation to play nice with Google, especially when their entire business is building on the concept of essentially stealing other people's data in order to index, rank, or serve it back in some way. There is only the risk management involved and the consequences that an organization is willing to accept if they get caught. You play by the rules because the alternative these days could be much worse. The landmines you have to avoid to try to game the system in addition to the cost associated with such an effort is in most cases more than the cost of just developing a real content and branding strategy that would deliver long-term success. Only recently in the last couple of years has Google's technology started to reach this tipping point where it actually may cost less to market a company honestly and legitimately than try to develop and execute on some elaborate network or scheme to try to provide some small edge. Clearly the News search needs some work but this will be fixed or "patched" soon enough and we'll all be talking about the next exploit.

Jim Wood

11/12/2013 11:49 pm

They would never admit it anyway.


11/12/2013 11:53 pm

Huffington Post is notorious for this.

Yo Mamma

11/13/2013 12:54 am

Got your Google bar code tattoo yet? Clueless Google strikes again

Gracious Store

11/13/2013 05:32 am

It is unfortunate that people will always find loophole in any system and abuse it. It will be a shame if renowned news media are guilty of cheating


11/13/2013 05:33 am

Barry, what about your own site? Your site is a news site in the eye of Google News search and you frequently change title of your articles too.

Barry Schwartz

11/13/2013 07:39 am


Soni Sharma

11/13/2013 09:31 am

And the saddest part is leading news sites are doing this practice. Google should take manual action on these sites and ban permanently in news search results.


11/13/2013 10:05 am

You follow all the news site tactics and you do show up in Google News for SEO related queries. You are using 3+ numbers in URLs (waived with News sitemaps) and using news sitemap also (which I think is not updated frequently, hence you are using numbers to get in Google news). It's good practice if you are not doing this. But I have seen many times for fresh articles of yours are showing different titles in a day. Right now I don't have the documented proof to show you. But will show you in future if I record them.

Stuart David

11/13/2013 11:23 am

I think maybe that a step to far, they do produce engaging content, and the entire Google News service would lose credibility without all the usual brand names people come to expect to see, so banning them would be a disaster of a move and weaken the smaller publishers even further. The best option would be not to give that boost that currently is given to refreshed articles.

Soni Sharma

11/13/2013 12:00 pm

Yes... that will help.. See another example of Google News policy cheat. where DNAIndia violating by promoting ebay India in the news for sachin tendulkar merchandise..

Stuart David

11/13/2013 01:26 pm

Yeah, that's pretty damn blatant isn't it! May as well append the string 'We got paid for this'

The Anti Cutts

11/13/2013 01:53 pm

(Smile) these news stories aren't competing against our PPC advertisers so they can pretty much do what they want as long as they get the bold tags right! Now, please find me some local tradesmen who are trying to feed their families or keep the lights on and we will take swift animal action (big smile)


11/13/2013 05:29 pm

oh, everybody cheat google. And google cheat and blackhat everybody.


11/13/2013 05:30 pm



11/13/2013 05:31 pm

it not search engine anymore. it something ... stupid.

Jitendra Vaswani

11/16/2013 05:13 am

Yes soni you are right. Top business leaders this technique. Shame on them. Google should b stern

Jitendra Vaswani

11/16/2013 05:13 am

Renowned media is already misusing the system. Google need to stop this

Spook SEO

01/12/2014 04:45 pm

Barry, this is a good way to change the option to of the further updates also that no possibility left for cheating the Google News and by banning these thinks may be cause the loosing of the credibility for Google that is the reason they replied it as a bug.

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