Mike Sambuco


I’m sure many you have used Google News (http://news.google.com/) in some capacity or another, but maybe you haven’t experienced all of its impressive features. Google News is a great news search engine that allows users to learn about news for a wide variety of topics. The site doesn’t just show current news, though. It does a great job of allowing the user to search past events as well. Basically, Google News is the place to go when you want to find out about anything newsworthy.

As mentioned in the official Google Blog, Google News was first launched in beta form in September 2002. It wasn’t until 2006 that Google decided to take Google News out of beta, but it was well worth the wait. Since then, Google News has changed how many people receive information, and they’re not looking back.

News on Google

First, I’ll take a step back, though. Google News doesn’t only have its own tab at the top of the Google toolbar; Google likes to integrate news results into its regular search engine results, so users commonly get some news results when searching normally. For example, if you want to know about Samsung tablets, the Google search [Samsung tablet] will provide you with a link to the Google News results for that same query and a couple of news results once you scroll down a bit. The news section is seamlessly integrated into the normal results, but once you click the “News for Samsung tablet” link, all the results on the ensuing page are, as expected, news results.

Searching Google News

Great news if you’re already a Google user: all of the wonderful Google search operators work for Google News. As a result, the transition to using Google News should be pretty simple if you’re used to Google. Additionally, you’ll also be able to use a couple of operators solely meant for Google News. Included in that list are:

  • location: This operator picks out articles that come from a user-selected location
  • source: This operator is meant to pick out articles from a specific publisher. This can be a newspaper, blog, or website.

Entering a search term into the Google News toolbar will send you to the news results. There, you’ll also see the ability to narrow those results by looking at only blogs and filtering by date, and also the ability to sort by relevance or date. Here, you’ll not only be able to filter by date, but you can even create a custom date range to filter by.

Scrolling down to the bottom of the page reveals the ability to do two great things if you plan on searching for news on this particular topic frequently. The first is to create an email alert for your news search. Clicking this link will send you to a page where you can decide on alert frequency. The second is creating an RSS feed for this news search. Clicking this link will allow you to add the news search to your feed reader.

The Homepage

Going to www.news.google.com (or www.Google.com/news) will take you to the Google News homepage. There, you’ll see many categories of news on the left, ranging from World and Business news to Entertainment and Science news. The user can scroll down the page to view the top stories from each category or click on a category from the left hand side panel to go directly to that category’s page to find more stories in that category.

Looking at the left side panel in detail, you’ll notice that Google News shows the top ten story topics when on the homepage. They also show the top ten section topics when on an individual section page. Clicking on one of the topics will send you to a list of stories relevant to that subject.


If you hadn’t noticed the right column in the homepage screenshot, take a look at it now. The right column shows local news, and since I’m currently showing the default settings, this means users in Philadelphia will automatically have a different homepage than users in Los Angeles. Google automatically determines your location initially, but you can change the location pretty easily if you want news from another area. Click the “Change location” link and the form below opens up.

Here, you can uncheck the “Automatically determine my geographic area” box and type in any city, state, or zip code in the world. This is most useful when traveling and you want to keep up with information back home or when you just want to know what’s going on in a particular area.

Personalization does not end there, though. To really make Google News customized to your liking, click the “Personalize your news” button above the local news box. This will open up a box of sliders that change how much of each news section you see. If you want more World news and less Elections news, push the World slider to the right and the Elections slider to the left. Finding the right balance can take time, but once you’ve found the ideal mix, your Google News experience truly satisfies.

In addition to moving the section sliders right and left, you can also drag the categories up and down on the list. This will change the order of the sections on the homepage and in your left side section menu, but will not change the frequency of receiving articles from that topic.

By default, Google News looks like this:

After personalization, your topics can look like mine below. Notice how in addition to using the sliders and rearranging the order, I added a couple new topics (Philadelphia Phillies and ShowTime) and removed two of the default topics (Entertainment and Health). You can add any topic by typing it into the “Add any news topic” box below the list of sliders.

Notice the bottom of the above personalized list of sliders where it says “Advanced.” Clicking this link will take you to a page where you can browse for new topics to add to your list. By default, the page shows the most commonly used topics, but you can change this to sort the topics by rating or date created. You can also narrow down larger categories to find specific topics within a category by clicking on one of the sections in the “Narrow by category” side menu.

The coolest part of this page, though, is the ability to create your own section. Click the blue “Create a custom section” box on the right side of the page. You will be sent to the Create a Custom Section page, where you can enter in a group of search terms that will aggregate news results for all of those terms under one topic grouping. For example, I wanted to see news about sabermetrics in baseball. Since I was not satisfied with the pre-made topics on this subject, I decided to make my own. Doing so is pretty quick and easy. All you have to do is type in a couple search terms, give your section a title and decide if you want to make your custom section usable for everyone. To the right of the input form, you’ll see a preview of the articles in your customized section. This is useful because it can show whether or not certain search terms are worth being in the list. Once you create the custom section, it will automatically be placed at the top of your list of topics.

Customization of Google News does not end with personalizing topics, though. You can also customize the sources you receive your content from. Below the Personalize Google News section sliders is a box where you can adjust the frequency of certain sources. By default, no source is preferred over another, but users can easily change that. If you’re not a fan of Fox News, you can easily drag their slider all the way to the left to never see their content. On the other hand, if you can’t get enough of their content, drag it to the right to see their articles more often.

You can also add sources to the list in order to customize them. Say you really like NBC 10 Philadelphia’s local news coverage. All you have to do is type in “NBC 10 Philadelphia” and add it to your customization list. Once on the list, you can move the slider as you please. When typing in “NBC 10 Philadelphia,” you may have noticed that there were source suggestions along the way that you could add to your list as well. Choosing sources is not limited to just choosing the online sites of newspapers and television stations. You can also add blogs to your list (for example: The 700 Level).

See that “Settings” link at the bottom of the Adjust Sources box? Clicking it sends you to a page where you can adjust your taste in publishers. Here, you can choose to see more or less of blogs and press releases. On this page you can also change some settings on your homepage. As seen below, Google News gives you the option to view your homepage as one or two columns, open articles in a new browser window, automatically reload the page every 15 minutes, and show Google+ posts.

Country Editions

What you’ve seen so far is the United States edition, but there are also other country’s versions available to read. At the top of the News homepage there is a drop down list of country’s editions you can read. Each of the options in the list leads you to news more relevant to that country. Notice that if you select Italia to read about Italian news, the content will be in Italian, not English. You’ll have to either be fluent in that country’s language or translate the page to comprehend non-English speaking countries’ pages.

Comparison with Google Search

Comparing a regular Google search to Google News is a little less night and day than comparing a normal Google search to a tool from a separate company. The search interface for both is largely identical, so the differences lie in the content and features.

Benefits of a regular Google search:

  • Knowledge Graphs: Google News does not provide users with one of my favorite Google features.
  • Some news results: A couple news results are occasionally displayed on the first page of regular search results. When you want quick information, sometimes that’s all you desire as a user. Also, those results are typically the ones shown at the top of the Google News results page.
  • Previews of other Google searches: As mentioned above, a regular Google search may provide previews for news results, but it can also show image, shopping, and video results previews as well.
  • Related searches: If the results on this page are not exactly what you’re looking for, you can see a group of related searches that may be helpful. Google News does not provide this feature.

Benefits of Google News:

  • News results only: You know what type of results you’re going to get. You won’t have to sift through shopping results, image results, and regular search results to find news about your search topic.
  • RSS feeds: This tool is a time saver that compiles articles from certain searches you want to see in your feed reader. You no longer have to waste your time searching for the same topic each and every day.
  • Google News homepage customization: Find the information that matters most to you in one place. The type of articles shown on this page is entirely up to you.


Clearly, Google News is great for news searches, but even after reading the previous sections, some readers might still be wondering, “If Google’s regular search integrates news into its results, why not just use Google’s general search all the time?” Deciding between using Google News and a regular Google search should be pretty simple. A regular Google search will not provide nearly enough news information to make visiting Google News ineffective. If you’re looking for information on a current event or a topic that gets updated frequently, use Google News to get up-to-date articles. Set up a Google News RSS feed so your searches can be compiled and brought to your feed reader. Browse the news on Google News as well. There are a ton of options on how to use the site, but I certainly recommend using it for its most basic feature: news searches. Google News is not meant to replace a regular Google search; both have different uses. If you want to read about news, use Google News.


Article: “And now, News” by Krishna Bharat – http://bit.ly/cVoIKL

Article: “About Google News” by Google Help – http://bit.ly/YOQmm6

Article: “Using Google News RSS Feeds” by Google Help – http://bit.ly/FPQdBn

Video: “News search using major search engines” by Scott Moore – http://bit.ly/TKswQW

About the Author

Mike Sambuco is a baseball enthusiast who considers it an honor that he was once called a “baseball nerd.” Originally hailing from Northeast Philadelphia, Mike moved to Berwyn, Pennsylvania half way through Kindergarten. Being fascinated by trains at the time, he was overjoyed by the move because it allowed him to ride the R5 train into the city every weekday with his mother. The train ride also allowed him to read the Sports section of The Philadelphia Inquirer every morning, and that, combined with being signed up for T-Ball later in the year, is where his passion for the game of baseball began. Mike, now 21 and a student at the University of Michigan’s Stephen M. Ross School of Business, also enjoys spending time at the beach, watching episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm, Homeland, and Dexter, and cooking Italian dinners using his father’s amazing recipes.


To Google or not to Google? Copyright © 2013 by Mike Sambuco. All Rights Reserved.