Big Names in Online Media Want Ranking Help from Google

Fairly recent reports of the newspaper industry taking a hit in sales and distribution may come as a shock to some. It’s definitely not a high point for said newspaper and media companies. However, is it really that surprising considering the way that people today are getting their news?

With a vast array of social media sites and free informative websites popping up every day, getting the daily news has never been easier. Plus, with people “tweeting” and facebooking across the nation, the most recent, updated news can spread and be read within seconds.

Does that mean, though, that big name newspaper and media companies should lose their rankings in the search engines, namely Google, due to the surplus of alternative information and new sites?

Well, that seems to be the question on several major media company’s minds as, within the last few months, several have complained that they aren’t getting the rankings that they deserve. These media giants including the New York Times, ESPN, Hearst, Meredith, The Wall Street Journal and Time Inc. have complained about several of Google’s ranking tactics. This includes Google’s search algorithm – specifically the fact that they penalize paid content, which newly came about as the media giants began to renew their efforts to sell some content online, and ad revenue continued to crumble.

They have also placed complaints about Google’s original PageRank algorithm, which they say places too much of an emphasis on links, as well as the appearance of Google’s search results. As they all look the same, they claim it could hinder big brands because they don’t substantially stand out from other search results.

One content publisher, as quoted in an article published on AdAge.com, expressed their opinion about other, smaller content publishing sites that appear in the search results alongside these bigger names, saying that, “You should not have a system where those who are essentially parasites off the true producers of content, benefit disproportionately.”

This collection of media publishers are also all part of Google’s Publishers Advisory Council, which is where this push for better rankings began. This council is supposedly a small invitation-only group for professional publishers to “pow-wow” confidentially with Google. Now, before too much anger ensues, it must be noted that these big publishing company’s aren’t looking to get a “leg up over amateurs and link happy bloggers,” according to the article published on Adage.com, but are just looking to be recognized as the original source of the content. They are also looking forward to their next council meeting on April 30th where they hope Google “will fix” this issue.

Now, as an SEO who works with clients everyday in order to help them position better, I find this amusing, understandable and yet a tad ironic.

Ironic, considering that the Vince Update, which is explained on Google’s YouTube Channel, was specifically rolled out to target bigger brand names, and has done so for several companies since the update. Amusing, because these companies know that Google’s search algorithm works in a specific way, but aren’t willing to comply or change in order to get better positions, as many smaller companies have to do every day in order to stay off the third page! Understandable, because it can be a challenge these days to be recognized by a search engine as the original content source with so many others in competition for the same space.

Personally, I have to think that if these big media companies really wanted to improve their rankings, they could bolster their sites with some SEO and SEM tactics, which continue to be a growing trend in the online space. I am also happy to see that some publishers agree.

“Google has designed an algorithm,” one said. “They don’t owe us that we show up a particular way. They do publish a whole lot about how to make your site show up as much as possible. If people haven’t taken action on it, that’s their own damn fault.” (Quoted from an article published on AdAge.com)

With several major companies across the nation looking for bailout help these days, and the economy still looking bleak, should these media giants get a bailout of sorts from Google? What do you think?