Google has announced updates to its search ranking guidelines that are aimed at identifying and showcasing original reporting at the top of the search results and ensure that it stays there longer.
The update is intended to give more visibility to original reporting so that readers can read the stories where they originated, and this will also benefit the publications more.
The world of news is fast-moving and with numerous stories being filed by scores of publications, finding the original report becomes difficult as it gets overpowered by the sheer volume of stories turning up on the internet. To address the issue, Google Search will now place the original article prominently in the search results and will stay at that spot for longer. More recently published related news articles will also appear alongside.
What constitutes original reporting?
“There is no absolute definition of original reporting, nor is there an absolute standard for establishing how original a given article is. It can mean different things to different newsrooms and publishers at different times, so our efforts will constantly evolve as we work to understand the life cycle of a story,” Richard Gringas, VP of News, explains.
Google’s algorithm that ranks search results is assisted by more than 10,000 raters globally, whose feedback helps the company understand and improve their search algorithm. These raters use Google’s search rater guidelines to assess the quality of the content appearing in the search results. Google has updated these guidelines, which will impact the search results after taking into consideration the feedback from the raters.
According to the new guidelines, an article will be classified as an original report when it “provides information that would not otherwise have been known had the article not revealed it”.
Section 5.1 of Google’s search rater guideline document states, “Original, in-depth, and investigative reporting requires a high degree of skill, time, and effort. Often very high-quality news content will include a description of primary sources and other original reporting referenced during the content creation process. Very high-quality news content must be accurate and should meet professional journalistic standards.”
Also, the new guidelines instruct the raters to consider a publisher’s overall reputation while marking them for original reporting. According to Section 2.6.1 of the guidelines document, “Many other kinds of websites have reputations as well. For example, you might find that a newspaper (with an associated website) has won journalistic awards. Prestigious awards, such as the Pulitzer Prize award, or a history of high-quality original reporting, are strong evidence of positive reputation.”
Both the guideline updates emphasise heavily on the reputation of the publisher as well as the inclusion of primary sources and the overall quality of the reportage, which is a piece of good news for several publishers whose original reports have been shadowed by other reports — sourced and often scraped from the original story — that find a better spot on the search results ahead of the original.
“We hope these updates to elevate original reporting will provide people with a deeper understanding of their changing communities and the conversations going on around them,” writes Gringas.
You can check out the entire guidelines document here.