Google has confirmed that they have dropped the “In the News” box with the “Top Stories” box. This change seems to just be an aesthetic update to the design in order to make the news box on desktop match that on the mobile version. In fact, this change happened with the rollout of the new Google desktop user interface release this week.
We asked Google if this was more than just a design change and if there were any algorithmic changes made to which stories are eligible to appear in the box. Google would not comment; they just told us this change is to make the desktop version match the mobile version.
Business Insider reported that this was launched to combat the fake news issues surrounding the company. But Google told us this change has been in the works for months, well before all the discussion around “fake news.” So I doubt this change has anything to do with that topic, but rather it was a title change to the box during the launch of the new desktop search interface.
In fact, RankRanger, a tool that tracks these search changes on Google, picked up on the change this morning and posted it on Twitter. Here is the drop in the usage of the In the News box:
On a related note, some folks reported a week or so ago changes to the top stories algorithm, showing more credible sites than in the past. But Google would not comment about this.