Google is fixing an error that led to smaller sites disappearing from Google News


PSA: If you are a smaller news site that has suddenly discovered you’ve been removed from Google News, you are not alone — and a fix is coming from Google.

Backstory: Over the past couple of days, a number of smaller websites were finding that they had been delisted from Google News pages, without explanation. One site founder brought it to our attention to investigate after realizing that he was not alone.

There was some conjecture that the shift was related to SEO changes at the search giant, delivered without warning. You can see why some might have jumped to that conclusion: Google has made changes to recalibrate its search algorithms before to improve quality.

And the company has definitely been in the spotlight for a while now over how it (along with Facebook) influences what news people see, and specifically how sometimes that news that floats to the top is not of the highest quality. Google also has been working on improving the situation, changing practices to address issues as they arise.

In this case, though, it seems that the removal of these sites was due to an error at Google itself. After we got in touch, Google investigated and is now trying to fix the issue. Google also sent us the following statement from Maricia Scott, engineering director for Google News:

“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.”

If you are an affected site, Google says you do not need to resubmit your site to get it reinstated.

Google also posted in its publisher forum a note from Valerie Streit of Google News:

Dear publishers,

We want to let you know that we are aware of reports surrounding the removal of websites from Google News in recent days. We’re actively monitoring posts here in the forum and reports from elsewhere. Our team is currently investigating, and we’ll provide a more detailed update as soon as possible.

In the meantime, we thank you for your patience, and know that we are doing all we can to quickly investigate the feedback.

Getting delisted from Google News can have a significant impact on a web property. News sites generally try to diversify their traffic sources to keep from being too dependent on one site in particular, but more generally Google News has actually increased its influence as a traffic referrer in the past year, according to site traffic monitoring firm Parse.ly.

In 2017, Google referrals were up by 17 percent, influenced in part by the rise of AMP pages (the mobile web-friendly page format that Google has been heavily pushing), and changes at Facebook to de-emphasize news posts over friends’ posts.

Some sites are reporting the situation is getting resolved for their own sites now.

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