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Is Google News Still All That?

TAGs: affiliate month 2013, Affiliates, Ben Starr, Editorial, Google, google news, mike o donnell, modqs

modqs-is-google-news-still-all-thatWebmasters from all walks of life have spent many manhours attempting to optimise their site for Google News. Separating news categories, having transparent ‘About’ and ‘Contact’ pages, clearly displaying authors and ensuring that your content sticks to the guidelines are just a few of the tasks that have taken up the time of many.

The reasons behind undertaking such tasks are obvious. Inclusion in Google News provides opportunities for you to reach the eyes of millions of users that you wouldn’t have otherwise. It’s a major source of traffic for many publishers that otherwise might not have been able to attract an audience large enough to make their sites operational.

It’s because of these benefits and plenty more that getting into Google News became a high priority for many. Ben Starr, managing director of 15 Marketing who operate numerous bingo sites, wrote about this very subject on CalvinAyre.com just a few months ago highlighting how important it is for sites to gain exposure.

It’s hard to argue that point. But given the hoops that site operators are made to jump through in order to remain on Google News plus the recent efforts made to clean up the platform, is it still a worthwhile activity for iGaming affiliates?

Authority and inconsistency

Providing a space where the content of news outlets from across the world could combine to create a single source for everything newsworthy at the time was the idea. In reality it was never going to be that simple and sites of low quality and those that were in no way news sites began signing up to Google News in order to get a piece of the action.

Soon enough there were hundreds of thousands of sites producing billions of short articles stuffed with the appropriate keywords providing users with extremely little value. Quality control quickly became a key issue for Google News as they began to clean up the product by removing spammy sites and prioritising sites that were already known influencers – something that we can only assume was based on the amount of traffic already had.

This left sites who weren’t national newspapers, magazines or high profile brands with something of a challenge – especially once articles covering the same topic began getting grouped together. For iGaming affiliates, getting to the top of the pile became impossible.

That’s if affiliates were even allowed in. The guide to inclusion states that any sites “created primarily for promoting a product or organisation” would not be allowed in. iGaming affiliate sites are of course created to promote numerous products but they certainly aren’t alone. In fact, it’s hard to work out how it is expected that any site is going to be able to maintain the high quality content that is required without bringing in some revenue.

Regardless, it appears that this rule only applies to some but not others. Some iGaming affiliates have been turfed out of the listings while others have remained and continue to appear in results for major topics.

Reaching the right people

Even if a site is deemed worthy of Google News, it’s by no means a guarantee of traffic. And even when the traffic does come through, it’s certainly not with the intention of playing in an online casino or sitting at a virtual poker table as users are coming under a different pretence.

It’s easy to say that any traffic is better than no traffic but given the high bounce rates caused by traffic being so specifically targeted to the landing page that might not be the case here.

Working within the iGaming genre often causes more complications and dealing with Google News is no different. The problem here is that with the majority of iGaming verticals, sports betting and to a lesser extent poker excluded, is that most of what Google considers to be news is of little significance and even less interest to potential users. So rather than post B2C content that a user would actually be interested in, affiliates are forced to blog on the latest staff changes in the finance department at Ladbrokes.

Of course, there are opportunities to adapt a well-publicised story to your needs and offer a genuine insight into that area. The Point of Consumption Tax and furore over fixed-odds betting terminals are just two gambling issues that received significant coverage in mainstream media, thus bringing them to the attention of a wider public. The catch 22 of this situation is that even if you are covering these topics and being listed in Google News, you’re up against the likes of national newspapers.

Any way you look at it, the odds are stacked against iGaming affiliates. It seems like an endless battle with the scales constantly being tipped further against your favour. The rise of social sharing (not as the new SEO) presents a much more interesting proposition for iGaming affiliates. They can focus on creating content that entertains rather than informs – something which fits in with the psyche of the users that gaming sites are trying to attract.

With this in mind, Google News becomes less of a priority which should please iGaming affiliates everywhere. Obviously it’s a useful option to have but social sharing means that it’s certainly not the only alternative to search engines, and given the hassle that comes with resources are definitely best placed elsewhere.

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