May 2010
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Is Google God for novices in online news biz?

              Today, with Google news becoming a one stop destination to get access to all news content across all major news publications, channels and portals; and marketers and advertisers giving significant importance to Google's website and page ranking methods, the search engine dominates in diverting traffics to various news content portals.

MUMBAI, INDIA: Today for any news publication or broadcast channel, having a news portal is a must to keep its readers or viewers engaged and informed.

But having a news website doesn't always ensure or guarantee any direct traffic of visitors. It can be true, in case the news publication brand is a well-known or established one. Otherwise, for the new or lesser known brand it becomes hard to survive without Google to get any sort of web traffic.

According to Ajatshatru Singh, NewsX Head- Online, TV channels have far more penetration in India compared to online news portals and so it takes more time for news portals to maximize its reach and visibility.

“Presently, online news is still at a nascent stage but has unique advantage – best of three worlds as it can incorporate text, pictures, audio and videos. However you need about 2-5 years time to build a web strategy and currently, it is the recognized print or TV brands that are developing their on-line brands and properties,” Singh says.  

“Since NewsX is being re-launched and it’s just a two year old news channel, we have partnered Google YouTube, which is helping to get more viewer ship and footprint rather than the stand alone website,” he explains. Singh reckons, known news brands get direct web traffic, while in case of new sites, one has to reroute traffic via Google.

So is Google demi-god for these news portals?

“No doubt, a big chunk of news portals’ viewership comes via search engines. And Google is the king of search engines and the small news sites are badly dependent on Google for viewership,” says Ved Vrat Giri, Editor-in-chief of Mynews.in, MeriKhabar.com and MediaMughals.com based in Noida.

“However, as far as the websites of some popular TV news channels and newspapers are concerned, they may take a risk of being independent off Google and other search engines and may opt for going Rupert Murdock way, by charging the content on their sites.

 

As they are already established news brands, naturally they have a sizable dedicated viewership. Big media houses can afford to advertise vigorously for branding their sites,” Giri adds.

Interestingly, in the whole process of online news, Google plays a key role which any news site cannot ignore because Google is no longer just a top search engine today.

Google news page is highly visited by users because it aggregates all kinds of news from across news publications including newspapers, magazines, TV channels along with news portals and accordingly Google with its own methodologies ranks those news portals and pages with the unique time based news archive features.

With such high traffic on Google news page, it becomes a visitors junction from where web traffic can be diverted to other sites.

According to Deepak Ajwani, director on-line at Forbes India, Google news and Google site in general drive traffic. People keep track of Google news as it provides convenience of getting all the general news, which are aggregated by Google on a single page and also can share with others.

Inside the search engine and page ranking methods, there's a gamut of web based technologies and algorithmic processes such as web analytics, keyword search, content scanners and crawlers, search engine optimization (SEO), social media optimization (SMO) and so forth.

Even Google releases various data related to the most searched keywords or terms, user behavior trends and patterns and other stuffs.

Apart, these news portals’ revenues largely flow via online ad sales. Not only that, the advertisers take calls based on Google Analytics and Trends. So all these make these news portals to be heavily dependant on Google, giving the search giant enormous significance on the Internet.

Even Giri agrees, “The advertisers heavily rely upon Google Analytics while planning ad campaigns and so small web portals and sites owners are generally compelled to do SEO and keywords related exercises for enhanced web-traffic.” He adds that after all, they have to face a stiff competition from big and branded media houses’ web properties.

On this Ajwani points, Google no longer practices old methods of keyword search as its crawler now scans through the entire content and picks the words on its own.

Business.in.com, he says, doesn’t follow the keyword methods for getting the traffic but use social media such as Twitter and Facebook to directly interact with the readers.

Further, Ajwani explains, the keywords are basically meant to search news articles or content on the net. However, he stresses, SEO is very essential and it’s hygiene for websites along with optimization as per new technologies.

“Google keeps on changing its SEO techniques on weekly basis to keep its own interest alive. With lots of traffic now being generated through social media, Google has been forced to come with Buzz,” Ajwani comments.

Is God Google’s worship and rituals cheap?

According to Singh, investment in web technologies and methods such as SEO, SMO and Google Analytics is very essential today and would easily cost around Rs.3-4 lakh per month. “But, doing so may or may not guarantee any visibility or increased page views on Google.”

“Well-known and established news brands can sacrifice Google for expensive methods but it certainly make sense for lesser known news portals to use Google tools and web techniques backed by good quality and exclusive news content to push up visibility, page views and ranks,” Singh says.

 
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