Webmaster Level: intermediate

(Cross-posted on the Google News Blog)

Google News recently updated our infrastructure to crawl with Google’s primary user-agent, Googlebot. What does this mean? Very little to most publishers. Any news organizations that wish to opt out of Google News can continue to do so: Google News will still respect the robots.txt entry for Googlebot-News, our former user-agent, if it is more restrictive than the robots.txt entry for Googlebot.

Our Help Center provides detailed guidance on using the robots exclusion protocol for Google News, and publishers can contact the Google News Support Team if they have any questions, but we wanted to first clarify the following:
  • Although you’ll now only see the Googlebot user-agent in your site’s logs, no need to worry: the appearance of Googlebot instead of Googlebot-News is independent of our inclusion policies. (You can always check whether your site is included in Google News by searching with the “site:” operator. For instance, enter “site:yournewssite.com” in the search field for Google News, and if you see results then we are currently indexing your news site.)
  • Your analytics tool will still be able to differentiate user traffic coming to your website from Google Search and traffic coming from Google News, so you should see no changes there. The main difference is that you will no longer see occasional automated visits to your site from the Googlebot-news crawler.
  • If you’re currently respecting our guidelines for Googlebot, you will not need to make any code changes to your site. Sites that have implemented subscriptions using a metered model or who have implemented First Click Free will not experience any changes. For sites which require registration, payment or login prior to reading any full article, Google News will only be able to crawl and index the title and snippet that you show all users who visit your page. Our Webmaster Guidelines provide additional information about “cloaking” (i.e., showing a bot a different version than what users experience). Learn more about Google News and subscription publishers in this Help Center article.
  • Rest assured, your Sitemap will still be crawled. This change does not affect how we crawl News Sitemaps. If you are a News publisher who hasn’t yet set up a News Sitemap and are interested in getting started, please follow this link.
  • For any publishers that wish to opt out of Google News and stay in Google Search, you can simply disallow Googlebot-news and allow Googlebot. For more information on how to do this, consult our Help Center.

As with any website, from time to time we need to make updates to our infrastructure. At the same time, we want to continue to provide as much control as possible to news web sites. We hope we have answered any questions you might have about this update. If you have additional questions, please check out our Help Center.