Google News and the News of the World

This weekend (Sunday 10th July, 2011) marks the final edition of the News of the World, following the recent allegations and investigations into claims of phone hacking at the publication.

I'm not going political here - there are plenty of other blogs and news outlets covering that angle - but I did get to wondering whether NOTW might be on Google News and, unsurprisingly, it is.

The analysis below is based on figures obtained at 3pm on Friday, July 8th, using Google News itself and limited to the previous seven days' worth of articles hosted on the News of the World website.

A Week of the World

In the week to July 8th, the News of the World published a grand total of 690 articles online, across all categories, including those that appeared in print and (I would assume) some that only appeared online.

Again, this is based on a Google News site search for the domain - the figures will change (and I guess should drop dramatically over the coming week) but for now you can check them here.

The News of the... What?

Without looking below this paragraph, what topics do you think the NOTW published the most stories about last week? Given what you know about the newspaper, its usual headlines, and the hacking allegations?

This is important, because this is where the gap is going to appear in Google News - there is arguably an opportunity to fill the niches left by the NOTW, if you're already a news publisher.

Personally, I would have guessed showbiz/entertainment stories and exclusives would be top of the list. I was wrong.

In the seven days to Friday, July 8th, the News of the World published only one story to its 'exclusive' section. That involved a report about Ashley and Cheryl Cole reuniting. Hardly groundbreaking, given the coverage other news outlets and blogs had given to that same story in the preceding two weeks.

Over the same week, a respectable 91 'showbiz' stories were uploaded to the site - but this was by no means the largest topic area.

Making the Headlines

With 94 articles, the site's 'Scottish' section actually outperformed showbiz over the week. I had no idea the NOTW was so active north of the border.

It is fairly unremarkable, although still worth noting, that 137 articles - a little under a quarter of the total - were simply published into a section with the URL stem 'news'. These articles are somewhat closed to analysis but I'd suggest they probably include politics, crime, finance headlines and international developments.

So what does that leave us? We've so far accounted for less than half of the total online output of the News of the World last week. What's missing?

The Brands and the Big Boys

One area that, again, is slightly more complex to analyse is that of lifestyle news. While the section with URLs stemming from 'lifestyle' contained just 77 articles over the week, the NOTW lifestyle magazine Fabulous has its own section on the site.

This throws a further 56 articles into the lifestyle pool, for a total of 133 articles in total - more even than the showbiz or Scottish output and, if all of the Fabulous articles really were about lifestyle, more than the headline news output of the publication.

Even this is not the biggest topic on the NOTW roster, however, as a massive 223 'sport' articles were published over the same week. That makes sport by far the single largest topic of coverage for the website.

The eleven articles which are, as yet, unaccounted for were of little significance; they often appeared with the stem 'public' and consisted of promotions, holiday offers and the like. I have omitted them here as I don't really think they were legitimate news content - and certainly not an area other online publications would want to target to try and take the place of the NOTW, based on Google's guidelines for inclusion in Google News.

What does all this mean?

Well it's simple, really. Regardless of the size of any given topic area on Google News, the removal of the News of the World leaves a gap - a window of opportunity. But the size of the NOTW's own output in any one area determines the scale of that opportunity for the publishers that remain.

Scottish news providers, perhaps you were already aware, perhaps not, but your opportunity arising from the demise of the News of the World is as great as showbiz sites - and perhaps even greater, if there is less competition among publishers for audience share.

Those of you who specialise in exclusives, meanwhile, could see next to no impact from the NOTW's removal from the search results - even though that is what fuelled the fire leading to this week's events.

For the full breakdown of the figures, check the table below - and news publishers, adapt your SEO campaigns accordingly!