Is Google News happy being gamed by The State Column?

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Is Google News happy being gamed by The State Column? elReg 3/22/12 9:38 AM
One of our readers pointed this one out. There's a website in the States called The State Column, which specialises in American political news. But lately if you follow the Google News Science section (US edition) you will find that they are very often the top headline on the top story, and so are often pulled through to the main front page which would probably mean a big traffic bonus.

They are achieving this by simply writing up whichever story is top and then publishing it again and again with some very minor alterations to the copy and a different headline and url, until they get ranked as the top headline. For instance today the top story has been the new revelations on the planet Mercury from the MESSENGER probe. The State Column have been plugging away publishing basically identical stories all day - here are a few:

http://www.thestatecolumn.com/articles/mystery-of-mercurys-core-revealed-by-nasas-messenger-spacecraft/
http://www.thestatecolumn.com/articles/the-enigma-of-mercurys-core/
http://www.thestatecolumn.com/articles/secrets-of-mercurys-core-unearthed-by-nasas-messenger-spacecraft/
http://www.thestatecolumn.com/articles/secrets-of-mercurys-core-revealed-by-nasas-messenger-spacecraft/
http://www.thestatecolumn.com/articles/messenger-mission-unearths-mystery-of-mercurys-core/
http://www.thestatecolumn.com/articles/secrets-of-mercurys-core-revealed/

I may well have missed some. They do this pretty much every day - obviously it only takes minutes of work.

This has paid off in the end: as I write they are top of Science and thus through to the front page. Lord knows we've been known to keep an eye on Google News to tell us what stories to cover (we actually are a Sci/Tech website: The State Column doesn't even admit to having a science section, and their writeups are really lamentable) but this is ridiculous. And yet it seems to be being rewarded with good placements by the Google News software. Another annoying thing about The State Column is that every story they run shows as having 6K facebook Likes as soon as it is up, which I beg leave to doubt.

If I was in charge of Google News I might reconsider whether I wanted to include The State Column.

Just a thought.

googleclue 4/13/12 8:36 PM <This message has been deleted.>