15-year old foils the credibility of Google News

Not much time has passed since Google took it’s long-running News service out of Beta and already someone has found a way to cause questioning of it’s credibility. Oddly enough, it was a 15 year old. I’ve included a link to the full story here, but as the story goes, the 15 year old tested the theory of another website, by posting a fake press release claiming that he was Google’s youngest recruit.

I’m sure he didn’t mean for it to make it as far as it did, but sure enough, his press release made it through the sources and into Google News pages. Eventually it all came out and the young teenager confessed and apologized via his blog on Sunday. Offering him some consolation, he did receive emails from several “real” Google employees telling him he had not dashed his changes of ever working for the search engine giant. (I’m sure Google was a bit red with embarrassment, but probably appreciated the event because of the exposure of vulnerability).

Now, I bring up this story for a very good purpose. Many in the search engine community often use press releases and news stories to highlight their websites and help to attain higher rankings. The 15 year old used a free PR website called iNewswire, heavily used among small businesses for the economical factors. In fact, I myself was sending some of my clients to these types of websites to have their news published. Press releases are a very good and fast way to get information about your company or events published to a wide variety of mediums.

Google may not have enjoyed the bad PR, but it highlighted a very prominent vulnerability. Mainly, that Google does not verify the sources or content of various news sources. But the consequences of this reality could be far reaching. Many have speculated that it will most likely start with the filtering out of information passed along by many free PR websites like iNewswire, making SE competition more difficult for smaller businesses who rely on those services and don’t necessarily have it in their budget to work with paid services.

But the consequences could also be much more. I speculate that Google will require accounts for publishers who wish to have content and news published with the creation of a credibility ranking (something that allows Google to rank your credibility based upon the trustworthiness and content of your news or press releases). This might be an easier solution for publishers who still want to use Google News, but bad for Google, because of the development time and deployment of another service. And who knows, I may be wrong. But one thing is for sure, Google News is going to change their policies and it’s not going to be good for small businesses and those who use the medium for proper SEM of their websites.

Let me know your thoughts by emailing me at [email protected] and I’ll be sure to place some of your comments in the next newsletter.