How Google News Works

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We all know that newspaper's frontpages are put together by crusty, irascible, but ultimately lovable editors. But what about the Google News frontpage? It's algorithmically generated, which means that software programs -- not people -- pick how to present the day's news. Google keeps most of its secrets under (virtual) lock-and-key but Krishna Bharat, the human brains behind Google News, gave Computerworld's Sharon Machlis a few good tips about how to get good placement.

Update: Ahem, it has been brought to my attention that not everything you read on Twitter is actually new. Though the advice is still sound, the Computerworld post turns out to be from last year. My apologies, dear readers.

* Volume and originality of content produced consistently about a topic. For instance, based on what it posts on its site, he noted, espn.com would likely be seen as an authoritative source about sports but not, say, about business. However, a site that simply posts a lot of content straight from other sources without generating original articles of its own would, at least in theory, have a lower reputation than one that produces a lot of its own articles -- good news indeed for his audience, which was mostly content-creating writer and editors like me.

* Links around the Web. Do a lot of other sites link back to that source? That's not as straightforward as it sounds, though, since both Bharat and other speakers at the Online News Association's search engine optimization panel intimated that quality as well as quantity of links matter. For example, another panelist after the session noted that lots of links in syndicated content across the Web might not be as valuable as other types of links, if a search engine's algorithm determines that there's a business relationship between two sites.

* What users do in response to links to that source on Google News. Are some sources' links clicked on more often than others?

Read the full story at Computerworld.

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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is the deputy editor of TheAtlantic.com, where he also oversees the Technology Channel. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer has called Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science Web site in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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