Categories: Google News Publishers :

A Vexing Approval Issue

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A Vexing Approval Issue Chris_Andrews 5/16/12 7:56 AM
Hi all,

We had an approved site that was un-approved several weeks after a change to the layout and name.

Since the un-approval, we have made guesses as to what the problem might be, made changes, re-applied, several times... but have not been able to regain approval.

This is frustrating because I feel that I have a pretty good understanding of GN's guidelines. I even agree with most of them, I see their purpose. Our site, under my leadership, had been approved for quite some time before the name/layout change. I've advised others on their approved sites, and helped coders improve their GN related plugins. I know the guidelines.

In our eyes, our site is one of the cleanest news sites around. We have original content, no advice/tips/how to, only cover current events, easy navigation, useful content, meets the technical requirements, dates on stories, multiple authors, author bios, contact info, no paid content/press releases...

We have invested in complying with the GN guidelines, from story selection, to site design, coding changes, writer trainings... to just reading and studying the guidelines and reviewing our own site for compliance.  We have put a lot of effort into this and we want the approval and recognition for it.

But for some reason, GN has not been able to grant us approval.

The reason seems to be something pretty obvious to GN. I can see from our stats that when they review our site, they just go to two or three pages, and in less than a minute, tell us they are not able to approve us. Despite the changes we have made, there is apparently something really obvious they see right away, but we have not been able to figure it out.

The last few times they looked, they have not written me back. I choose to look at that optimistically - by not rejecting the site, it hasn't been officially reviewed, and therefor I can contact them again without the 'time out' - BUT - I don't want to contact them again without making the change that is required to get the approval. I don't want to waste their time, or ours.

So what is stopping us from getting approved?

Please take a look and let me know what you think. You can write me back here or through our contact form, which would be nice, as I hate to air everything out in public...  though if doing so helps others learn, I don't mind being an example.

When GN looks at our site, they visit our home page, one article, and sometimes, but not always, the journalists page. So I would ask that you do the same and get back to me with your thoughts. (of course, you are welcome to dive deeper).

Again though, it seems to be something obvious that we are missing. GN does not look deep. I think GN knows my history pretty well and they know our content.

Could it be the name? We used to have a more generic name, though the content is the same. Consumer/Product/Entertainment news. Is 'News For Shoppers' something that is scaring them away? It shouldn't, I've seen worse names in GN. And shopping/consumerism is a major part of our lives. But sometimes I wonder if it could be that.

I would sincerely appreciate any assistance. Once we figure out what is preventing our approval, it will probably be a 'slap on the forehead "of course!"' moment :)

Re: A Vexing Approval Issue Chris_Andrews 5/17/12 8:09 AM
Thank you to those who have looked at our site.

I have not received any feedback or suggestions though. No one sees anything that might be affecting our approval?

I know that GN is not required to accept sites just because the guidelines are followed, but in my experience, both when we were approved and through the forum here, they seem to be really open to accepting sites that do follow the guidelines - so there must be something we are not getting right.

Question - does GN ever blacklist sites (not ever consider them) due to a former writer or competitor complaining? When they first pulled our approval, they said it 'may' be due to a complaint. I have had to let some writers go in the past due to poor quality writing or (repeated) factual errors - could one have complained about something and gotten us blacklisted? 

Erik - would you or someone at GN be able to confirm that we are dealing with an on-site issue that is causing our site to be unacceptable, and not off-site or otherwise beyond our control? 


Re: A Vexing Approval Issue Chris_Andrews 5/18/12 8:35 AM
Thanks again to all that have taken a look at our site over the last day or so. 

I still have not received any feedback or ideas on what may be blocking our approval. But I do appreciate that people are taking the time to look to see if they can find something.

I'm still soliciting feedback and ideas, so please let me know.

I still also wonder if a disgruntled-writer/competitor can get a site 'blacklisted' or if there is something else offsite causing this.

If no one is seeing anything on our site causing the un-approval, it must be elsewhere, no?  (Didn't Spock say something like that on Star Trek? - yeh, found it "If you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth)  :)   I don't think GN would do that, it would not seem reasonable. We can only assume they are giving us a fair shake. Personally I think it must be something onsite, and probably something obvious to GN since they take such a quick look before rejecting... but what?

So my request and challenge to you, help us find it!

Thanks all,  Chris

Re: A Vexing Approval Issue Robert Gunnells 5/18/12 2:48 PM
In a word NO, a writer or competitor cannot get a site blacklisted from News. GNews has certain steps in place where each site is given a manual review before making any decision on inclusion. Nothing is automated so this could not happen.
Re: A Vexing Approval Issue Chris_Andrews 5/20/12 6:29 PM
Thank you, that's what I figure as well... but there must be something... I'm still investigating any possible off-site issues. Reconsidered the re-application and sent GN an email regarding a possible mistake I made on it. I'll keep you updated and hope to hear from you soon,