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Posted by on Mar 23, 2009 in Media | 1 comment

Big Publishers Lobby Bigger Google for Special Treatment

Say they, We don’t like the algorithm… or the presentation!

Many publishers resent the criteria Google uses to pick top results, starting with the original PageRank formula that depended on how many links a page got. But crumbling ad revenue is lending their push more urgency; this is no time to show up on the third page of Google search results. And as publishers renew efforts to sell some content online, moreover, they’re newly upset that Google’s algorithm penalizes paid content.

“You should not have a system,” one content executive said, “where those who are essentially parasites off the true producers of content benefit disproportionately.”

Last November John Kosner, ESPN’s digital-media senior VP, renewed the charge at a meeting of Google’s Publishers Advisory Council, a small, invitation-only group for professional publishers to pow-wow confidentially with the search giant. Members include BusinessWeek, ESPN, Hearst, Meredith, The New York Times, Time Inc. and The Wall Street Journal. “This wasn’t the first time that it had been raised, but John certainly put a bright spotlight on it,” said one person in attendance.

Then in January, Martin Nisenholtz, New York Times Co. senior VP-digital operations, got up at the annual Online Publishers Association summit in Florida, an event closed to the press, to blast both the algorithm and the results presentation on the screen.

They complain that “every item looks about the same…undermining the power of known brands.”

Publishers said they’re not asking for a leg up over amateurs and link-happy bloggers. “This would in no way mean that only professional content publishers would get an advantage,” one said. “It really just says that the original source, and the source with real access, should somehow be recognized as the most important in the delivery of results.”

Via Michael Masnick:

A big part of the reason those media sites appear so low in the Google rankings is their own damn fault. For years, they tried to lock up the content behind paywalls and registration walls, and made their sites as un-user-friendly as possible. Thus, no one linked to them, they weren’t a part of the conversation, and Google treated them exactly as it should. It’s only now that those publications have realized the importance of the web that they’re demanding that Google change to work with them?

The next closed-door meeting of Google’s Publishers Advisory Council on April 30.