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These publishers are successful on Google News

The relationship between publishers and Google News has always been contradictory. The US-based tech company not only revolutionized Internet search, but also disrupted different business models - such as the media. Advertisement revenue, which was historically completely owned by media companies now has to be shared with Google. This gives sufficient reason for them to have a tense relationship. But more than that the news industry has been accusing the U.S. company of earning revenue from curating their journalistic content for years. To this day the so-called ancillary copyright is still subject of heated debate. This ancillary copyright stipulates that platforms such as Google should pay for the inclusion of the shortest journalistic content. There is also dispute as Google has become indispensable for digital publishers. The industry cannot and does not want to be excluded from Google. Especially since the news offering Google News is a reliable - and sometimes even the most important - traffic supplier for publishers. Taking all this into account the success of publishers in placing their content on Google is of enormous importance.

Supraregional news portals have the highest visibility

The aforementioned is enough to warrant taking a closer look at which publishers Google chooses for their news service. To do this, we documented which content and publishers made it into the non-personalized 'headlines' section of Google News' mobile view. From Google’s point of view headlines are the most important part of news and thus get the most visibility. During the observation period from January 1, 2023, to March 5, 2023, 15,000 articles from a total of 193 publishers were in the headlines. The survey shows: Above all, national news portals have high visibility on Google News. The only way for regional publishers to gain visibility is to abandon their core local content or if their local content is of national importance.

Most of the articles on Google News came from NTV. Since the beginning of the year, the platform has linked more than 1,500 articles from RTL Germany’s news portal. Around 1470 of the listed articles came from T-Online, followed by articles from Welt which amounted to around 1300 links. Over 1000 texts each originated from offerings of Spiegel and the Tagesschau.

Just these top 5 publishers made up around 43 percent of all the articles in the headlines. In fact, more than every tenth article originated from the front-runner NTV. Therefore the majority of articles can be attributed to a small number of publishers.

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The top 25 publishers in the ranking made up around 88 percent of all articles. The 25th place was taken by RBB24, from which only 99 articles were taken, receiving relatively little attention. On the lowest ranks were local news publishers and special interest portals with oftentimes just one article each. These included publishers such as Soldat und Technik magazine with an article on miniature drones in the Ukraine war. The Mindener Tageblatt made it to Google News with a national article on the earthquake disaster in Turkey and Syria.

Hasepost being more successful than Ippens Merkur

What is really surprising, therefore, is the high number of articles in the Hasepost from Osnabrück. With 153 articles, this portal for local news made it to position 20 in the ranking during the observation period - i.e. ahead of much better-known and also SEO-optimized publishers such as Rheinische Post, or the local top dog NOZ (position 38). Hasepost was successful, however, not with local news, but with national reports produced by the dts news agency.

RND as the Madsack Group's national offering makes it to position 14. In the headlines, the separation between local and national reporting certainly pays off. The Group's biggest local newspapers, HAZ and Leipziger Volkszeitung, reach positions 43 and 47, respectively.

Google News also found the niche portal to be relevant for 19 articles. The website appeared in the headlines for topics such as the abuse scandal in the church or the death of the Pope Emeritus, and even recorded over 3.5 million visits to its site in January.

Bei 19 Artikeln befand Google News auch das Nischenportal für relevant. Dabei erschien die Website bei Themen wie dem Missbrauchsskandal in der Kirche oder dem Tod des emeritierten Papstes in den Schlagzeilen und konnte im Januar sogar über 3,5 Millionen Visits auf ihrer Seite verzeichnen.

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An important influencing factor in Google News placement seems to be a certain expertise in an area or an assumed topic leadership. For news about the church, for example, Google falls back on; for local events with national appeal, Google News apparently prefers local media with topic leadership in the region. This was the case, for example, with a fire in Gütersloh. There, in addition to Radio Gütersloh and Radio Bielefeld, Neue Westfälische, Westfalen-Blatt and WDR were able to showcase their local topic leadership. These topic leaderships, which are also considered important in general search engine optimization, are accordingly even more relevant in Google News.

The headlines’ automatically generated subject names (visible after “More on the topic of this headline”) often consist of an individual term in addition to the prefix “News about”. As an example, such a topic on the war in Ukraine can be called “News about Ukraine” or “News about Bachmut”. The known publishers are then analyzed for which of them may have a topic leadership on the specific topic. Therefore, even local publishers have a hard time getting into the headlines. Due to their focus on local events, they can rarely score with nationally relevant topics.

The analysis shows: Most of the selection of Google News is distributed among a manageable number of publishers. Accordingly, they are likely to receive a large part of the forwarded traffic from Google News. Local media in particular have to make an immense effort to keep up.


During the analysis period from January 1, 2023 to March 5, 2023, azernis examined the German mobile version of Google News headlines ( For this purpose, the server called the mobile website, without executing Javascript, in 10-minute intervals. This way, the top 5-6 topics that are not personalized on mobile could be analyzed. However, possible A/B tests couldn't be identified with this method. Nonetheless, duplicate articles were only considered once and subsequently cleaned from the data.

This article was first published on on the 14.03.2023 in german.The original can be found here.

About this article

Written by Stefan Paulus

Published at: 4/13/2023, 3:00:00 PM

About azernis

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