Personalization, sharing and “news feeds” offered
Today, Google News is getting its first major overhaul since it launched in 2002. Gone is the default “section” view, replaced instead with a “news feed” view of stories. Creating a personalized collection of stories has been made easier, as has the ability to share stories with friends and others via email, Twitter, Google Buzz or Facebook. Let’s dive in and see what’s new.
Old version of Google News
To compare what’s changed, here’s how the “old” Google News came to be:
As you can see, the page was designed primarily to feature stories in “sections”. At the top were “Top Stories” and then sections for Recommended Stories (for those with web history enabled) as well as locally targeted news (my local area is shown). After that, there were thematic sections, such as US News, World News, Business, etc.
The new Google News
In the new look, which some have seen randomly in testing over the past few weeks, there are only two main sections: Top News and “News For You”, a new custom section, as the arrows point below. below:
The change gives Google News a strong “middle” news column, what Google calls “news feed.” Everyone sees the same Top Stories displayed above the personalized News For You section. Personalized news, of course, will be unique to each individual.
How Google personalizes “News For You”
In the past, Google offered a variety of ways to display personalized search results, from the aforementioned “recommended” stories to the ability to create personalized news sections based on keywords (like mine for search engine news , that anyone can subscribe to).
While the ‘Recommended’ feature is now gone, the new ‘News for you’ area gives personalization a much bigger role at Google News. Rather than being lumped into a particular section of Google News, it’s now probably the main area of Google News that people interact with when browsing the “front page” of articles.
Those who access the redesigned home page will be prompted to set their personal news preferences, such as choosing what type of news (business, science/tech, etc.) they like and the amounts they want:
This mix will be used to create the custom stories that will be featured.
You don’t have to pay anything. If you don’t, you’ll still see a News For You section, but it will be a “default” collection of stories that aren’t actually personalized to you. Anyone else who doesn’t personalize will see the same collection, Google tells me.
Recover your sections
Prefer to delve deeper into non-personalized news based on a particular topic. Or do you prefer the old-school sectional style? You can always do both:
On the left side of the main home page are section links (which would look neater if grouped under a heading like “Sections”). The first arrow points to these, which include:
Not pictured, but also available, are:
As for the sectional view, the second arrow above shows how you can toggle News For You’s “feed” or “list” view to instead show news organized in the more classic sections.
Featured stories and hot topics
Also in the left navigation area is a “Top Stories” box that lists sub-topics, such as those currently shown:
These top stories come from Google analyzing what all the news content it collects from the web seems to cover the most. In short, they are news trends, based on what news publications are writing about.
Starry, Spotlight & Fast Flip
The left navigation also offers a way to find “favorite” stories or Google’s “Spotlight” news section:
The ‘star’ feature was added in February and is an effective way for people to tag stories and give Google a signal that you’re interested in a topic (see Google News lets you ‘Star’ News Stories to learn more) .
Spotlight is a section that was added last year and used to be at the bottom of the Google News page. Now it moves to the third rightmost column. This is where Google’s algorithms select which stories they think should be “featured” for a longer period of time on the Google News homepage (see Google offers “Magazine” news of all kinds with ” Spotlight”):
This column also contains the local weather and is topped with recent news that Google’s algorithms decide to present.
Also in the rightmost column, but without a navigation link, is supposed to be the Google News Fast Flip area that was previously at the very bottom of the page. This allows you to quickly flip through articles contained in the Google News Fast Flip area (see Google Fast Flip – Google Newspaper & Magazine Reader Goes Live and Google Fast Flip Now On Google News Home Page).
As for the human-powered editors’ picks being tested, they’re clearly not ready for prime time. They are not offered to all Google News users as part of the new changes.
It’s odd that some of these options are scattered randomly down the left column and Fast Flip isn’t mentioned at all. I’d like to see them all grouped together perhaps under their own title, like “Tools” or “Tools and Featured Content”.
Share this story! Plus get more or less from the source
Find a story you like? Google now makes it easy to share. Previously, this could only be done via email, but Google now offers a variety of options:
In particular, stories can be shared via:
- Google Drive
- Google Buzz
The Facebook option is the classic Facebook “sharing” feature, not the new one”Like on Facebookoption that was unveiled earlier this year. That could change, Google tells me.
Why add these new sharing options?
“We find that users share hot topics with their friends quite frequently. We want to make it easier for them,” Ben Ling, director of product management, search properties at Google, told me.
Also note that in the sharing box is an option to “show more” or “show less” stories from a source you are viewing. This influences EVERYTHING you see on Google News, including the content in the News For You area and the Top Stories shown to you.
Who gets it and where?
Do you want to use the new version? It begins rolling out at 2 p.m. PT today for the English version of Google News in the United States. Google says it plans to roll out the changes to all editions of Google News in the coming months.
You can also learn more about the new changes through a video from googlebelow:
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.
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