With Google News, the third time's a charm
COLUMBIA, 4/26/13 (Op Ed) -- After two years and three time-consuming attempts, Google News -- the world's #1 news search engine -- has accepted the Columbia Heart Beat as a full-fledged provider of news and information.

The Heart Beat began in 2005 as an email newsletter covering and promoting North Central Columbia (a "beat" in the "heart" of the city). It occupied a blog for several years and morphed into an alternative newspaper covering region-wide issues.

Now, Google News visitors will find stories from the Heart Beat alongside traditional news outlets such as the New York Times, Washington Post, Columbia Daily Tribune, Columbia Missourian, and KOMU-TV.

Google News is an oasis of tradition amidst a sea of innovation. For news startups especially, convincing Google's News Team that you can hang with the bigger dogs is no mean feat.

The standards are strict -- and strictly applied. Foremost, Google News participants must carry original stories rather than aggregate content from other sites. For the Heart Beat, that's always been the top priority: Avoid stories covered -- or likely to be covered -- by other news outlets.

Google News' technical requirements are also daunting, and don't mesh with blog software, one reason we left the blogosphere in 2011.

Google's indexing robots require what web developers call "robust back ends" that allow webmasters multiple ways to organize and display content.
The application process asks dozens of questions about news site content, design, history. With two failed applications over the last two years, it was a pleasure to finally read, "This message is to confirm that we've reviewed and added your site to Google News."