Google announced plans to roll out a redesigned News tab in Search.
This change extends only to search listings and doesn’t extend to the main Google News product (news.google.com).
Google first shared the news on Twitter Thursday afternoon, posting a glimpse of the new look:
Over the next couple weeks we’re rolling out a redesigned News tab in Search on desktop. The refreshed design makes publisher names more prominent and organizes articles more clearly to help you find the news you need. Check it out 👇 pic.twitter.com/xa2aZfO4Qd
As you can see, the new design offers a cleaner look, and puts more emphasis on the publisher websites — but comes at the cost of fewer articles featured above the fold.
This change certainly brings some positive features to News Search, but some users are not quite bought-in due to perceived shortcomings.
Google News: old vs. new
For a better look at how Google News is changing, here’s a side-by-side of the old Google News (left) and the redesigned version:
In the old version, stories were organized into small clusters of related news. However, this came at the cost of less information on each particular story in each listing, and less emphasis on the publishers sourced for each article.
Conversely, the card-style view of the new layout offers a more extensive preview of each individual story and puts the publisher front and center. Still, the added information takes up a lot of real estate on the page — making it so fewer publishers have the opportunity to have their stories featured above the fold.
Some users are understandably frustrated about this change, as it could negatively affect traffic for smaller news publishers reporting on breaking news stories.
The new Google News redesign is absolutely horrible. With fewer links being displayed per page, there definitely seems to be an emphasis on bigger outlets https://t.co/5sGUg91Qdr
Not only do some people find it frustrating from a site owner perspective, but many also feel that it takes away from the user experience, citing issues like not showing purple links for pages that have already been visited:
This change makes it much harder for researchers and journalists to scan news search results because we can no longer quickly see purple links to denote what we’ve already clicked.
Please consider rescinding and reverting to the old format or making another change. @nickdigital
While showing more details is great for the overall search experience, when you’re looking for information on breaking news stories, there are definitely clear benefits to having a lot of information in a compact area.
Google stated that this change will be rolling out over the next few weeks — however, I was able to access the change on my Google account at the time of writing this article.
It’s possible that Google will adapt this based on feedback as it continues to roll out this feature more broadly, but it has not released a formal statement addressing the concerns as of yet.
What should publishers do?
If you’re a smaller news publisher, you may notice drops in traffic after this change is rolled out more broadly.
As Twitter user Kevin Raposo stated above, the update seems to favor bigger publishers for the top three or four positions shown above the fold.
These publishers should continue to monitor traffic and see what may be attributed to this update as to not skew any other metrics.
Still, moving forward, publishers can place more emphasis on the articles' meta descriptions and featured images, as those will be shown more prominently and can compel more users to click on your listing.
As Google continues to place more emphasis on its news publishing platform, we can expect more changes to this tab, all of which are likely to have effects on how your stories are ranked and displayed within Search. So, stay on top of your metrics, and continue to focus on producing high-quality original articles that will better captivate your audience.