Google negotiated with and chose 200 publishers to participate in its Google News Showcase program announced Thursday, along with a $1 billion investment. But what happens to the thousands of digital blogs and publications across the Internet that didn’t make the list?
News Showcase, an interactive set of story panels, will initially roll out to Google Search and Google Discover on Android and will become available to people looking for a deeper understanding of specific searchable news topics.
Dominick Miserandino, CEO at news organization The Inquisitr, has concerns. “It gives an exclusivity to certain publishers over others,” he said. “I am a firm believer in an open market and the limitations of 200 publishers will certainly have a negative impact on those that are not one of them.”
When asked whether it will continue to contribute to the demise of additional publishers, he doesn’t see that as a deciding factor, due to the variety of news sources, but it will have an impact.
To lessen the impact, Mike Blumenthal, GatherUp co-founder and authority on local search, suggests online publications need to adjust their strategy to get discovered in other ways. He called News Showcase “just one inbound funnel.”
For local companies, Google is about gaining visibility and generating leads. He says marketers need to set up strategies, so people using Google Search can find their company and services in different ways.
“You need to look at Google for what they are, a self-serving behemoth that controls digital realities,” he says. “That’s okay. It doesn’t mean you can’t exist in their shadow. It just means when you sleep with elephants you need to watch out, because you never know when they’re going to roll over.”
SEO professionals are curious as to how this will affect publishers who are not in the top tier and don't have a partnership with Google.
Some, such as Andrew Shotland, CEO of LocalSEOGuide.com, believe the new feature will increase engagement on the posts that show up at the top and in these Showcase panels, which will grab even more traffic away from the rest of the results.
“The presence of this new format in Discover should definitely improve traffic from that format,” he says. “I think this is yet another step on the way to forcing publications to sell subscriptions so they have a direct relationship with their readers.”
For John Heaston, publisher at The Reader, seems more concerned with getting through the pandemic and being able to diversify. "We're all happy we don't have a printing press to maintain, he said.
Most of the small paper's profits comes from advertising specials at restaurants or other in-person events. Without those, advertising revenue declines, he said.