It was recently brought to the attention of Google that some news providers seem to be manipulating their content in order to stay at the top of the Google news service. The members of the search marketing industry who brought this up with Google aren’t sure whether it is an intentional manipulation, a bug on the part of Google, or something wrong with how the news sites are formatting their content, but the fact is their news stories are remaining at the top of the list for far too long.
Google News, like any news outlet, should give rank stories not only by the content but also how recently it was published. With news constantly being updated and changing, people want to read the most recent information about a particular story, not something that has been reported and read hours, or even days earlier. The issue Google news seems to be having is that the time they are reporting the story was published is not matching up with the actual publish date and time.
The example given was when users typed “Google” into the Google News service at 12:20PM on June 24th, the top result was an article by USA Today with a time stamp indicating it was published just two hours earlier. When clicking on that link, however, it reveals that the article was actually published June 23rd at 6:25PM, almost a full day prior. This is just one example of many where the same issue is showing up, and all known examples involve USA Today.
For active news stories this could have Google providing very out of date information to people who rely on their services. Google has commented that they believe this is simply a bug and are investigating it now. Even if USA Today isn’t doing anything intentionally to manipulate their publish times, you can bet that other, less reputable publishers will be trying to figure out how to get the same results.