For news outlets and media organizations, getting on the top spot of Google rankings has always been challenging.
As soon as the original news breaks out, tons of other media organizations recycle the same news and publish their stories instantaneously until one day when the latest Google update is released to combat this. We will talk about this in detail in the rest of this post.
Coming to the concern; the original source always loses the top spot to other revised content soon after its publishing. Thus the second-hand articles receive the undue attention of Google search engine.
Imagine the frustration of the journalist who spent weeks, months, or even years investigating, finding the source, and curating an original story from the ground up.
Despite all the hard work, their stories don’t get on top of the Google SERP, which it rightfully deserves.
The lime-light, traffic, and credit that the original news source should get are heavily diluted, and it results in deprivation of the quality of news and information supplied to the end-users at times.
Google “News” Update
Google, in its endeavor, to ensure that the original news source gets the credit, traffic, and attention it deserves, has recently come up with the latest Google updates that is the rating algorithm.
In the age of digital media, publishers find it hard to enjoy the lime-light they used to enjoy after publishing exclusive news.
The prayers of publishers were finally answered by Google on Thursday when it revealed making changes to its algorithm to give “original reporting” an advantage. The changes in the search algorithm would be backed by ripple changes in associated guidelines.
Richard Gingras, Google’s Vice President of News, said that the changes in the algorithm would help in identifying and making the original news source visible to users for longer than the earlier approach that emphasized on recent news with the same story line.
The new changes are applicable for not only Google Search but also Google Discover and Google News. The idea behind it is to ensure that the users get to the source that broke the news first. Gingras added that it would benefit the readers as well as the publishers.
Original Reporting Gets Rewarded. Finally!
Google has been working on implementing these changes for the past few months. Even though this latest Google update is announced, it is still a work in progress.
However, the algorithm and guidelines have been updated to give original reporting an advantage over the cluster of recycled news articles that follow.
One of the reasons behind the update has been the repeated requests by publishers to give original news its due credit in search results. Secondly, Google recently rolled out an update in its rater’s guidelines for search quality that included several specific pointers for original reporting.
In conversation with New York Times, Richard Gingras mentioned that the changes are in Google’s own interest as it would enhance the user experience.
It would keep news manipulation at bay, something which the tech companies have been heavily criticized for in recent times for reasons well-known in the public domain. “We do everything here with Google Search and Google News to continue to earn and retain the trust of our users,” said Richard.
The Reasons Behind Update
Major tech platforms such as Google and Facebook have been under scrutiny for quite some time due to their hold and influence in the digital news sector.
The chief executive of News Media Alliance, David Chavern, says that the way the news search results show up in Google is one of the contributing factors why journalism hasn’t been attracting enough investments.
The News Media Alliance has been vocal about its criticism of tech companies for long and has even lobbied lawmakers to pass the bill for limited antitrust absolution. It would empower the media outlets to get a better say on how tech platforms publish news.
This latest Google update in search quality raters’ guidelines includes specific instructions about checking the history of the publisher in terms of accuracy of news published in the past, awards it has won and considering other credibility factors.
In a way, this move also empowers the smaller publishing houses that often get pushed away from the top search results even after breaking exclusive news by larger publishing houses in their follow-up news articles.
The idea is to create a level-playing field in the digital media world to ensure that the publishers get the due credit they deserve for original reporting and do not only thrive on follow-up or recycled news off other publishers.
Google employs more than 10,000 raters globally that continually track how Google ranks the search results.
While the raters do not impact the algorithms directly, their feedback plays a vital role in identifying the authority of pages being ranked and improving the algorithm in the process.
The recent changes in search quality guidelines by Google would result in its automated ranking systems working to keep original news source in a visible position for longer.
One of the many incidents that contributed to news-specific update from Google is the unfortunate event at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., in 2018.
Google-owned YouTube promoted sensational videos related to the incident during this time that carried no facts. It was heavily criticized for being unable to sift through the available material on the event and rank videos accordingly.
It led to rumors and propagation of false information among the public that created an insensitive atmosphere for the victims and their families.
The announcement by Google doesn’t make it clear as to how the publishers in the non-metropolitan cities would be affected by the recent update.
However, Gingras did say that Google is doing everything possible to do it right with a particular focus on empowering local news outlets on its platform.
Benefits of the Update for Publishers & Readers
- · News publishing outlets would not have to worry about being pushed down the search results immediately after publishing original news.·
- Increased traffic to the news sources that engage in original reporting.
- The readers would not have to sift through tons of news articles to find the original news source.
- Systematic approach to news publications with readers able to find original news source and recent news articles easily.·
- Smaller publishers don’t have to worry about being overshadowed by larger publishing houses when publishing breaking news or investigative news.
- The update applies to Google News, Google Discover, and Google Search.
- Original reporting from trusted sources would be rewarded in terms of credibility, traffic, visibility, and higher-rankings.
- Original news sources would rank higher and visible to readers in search results for longer period.
- The influx of recycled and follow-up news stories of original news would not instantly impact the rank of original news source in the search results.
- The time of news publication is not the only factor as news sources would be evaluated on the basis of the accuracy of its past news, journalism awards it has won, and its reputation in the publishing sector.
Media houses publishing investigative news stories, breaking news, and exclusive news stories would enjoy the limelight, traffic, and visibility they deserve.
- The update would help invalidate false information from unreliable sources due to its rating guidelines for search quality. It asks the raters to evaluate the original news reporting with the highest rating – “very high quality.”
- Publishing houses that rely on “value addition” form of journalism may have to switch focus to original reporting for higher rankings.
This update by Google has been welcomed by the publishing houses and media fraternity while being watched closely by the critics. It is a move that showcases how Google is trying to empower originality that benefits people, publishers, and platform.