Google Search is one of the primary drivers for online traffic, which uses a unique algorithm to show the latest and most comprehensive results to users. But in doing so, original reports tend to get buried in the cluster of aggregated pieces. But that changes now.
In an official blog post titled "Elevating original reporting in Search" on Thursday, Google News VP Richard Gingras announced some changes to the way Google Search works. The agenda is to bring original reporting into focus and let all those well-researched, investigative and exclusive stories appear prominently in Search and stay there for longer, long after multiple reports have followed the topic.
Google said that it has brought in some changes to its search rater guidelines in order to recognise original reporting better so it can be surfaced on the Search prominently. In addition to the algorithms Google has in place, Google has introduced new guidelines for its over 10,000 people who review the search results.
There are two main changes in the guidelines to help Google bring original reporting into focus. First is that the raters are instructed to use the highest rating for original news reporting. Through this, Google is acknowledging the effort, time and skill of a reporter, who brings new information to the readers that would not have otherwise known.
The second highlight in the updated guidelines for Search reviewers is to consider the publisher's reputation for original reporting.
"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," Google notes in section 2.6.1 of search rater guidelines.
Journalists and publications have a long-running battle with Google's Search and News algorithms, but this new update is a welcoming change in the right direction. With Google pushing for original reporting, in areas of celebrity scoops or more serious matters such as #MeToo and Panama Papers, journalists can focus on stories that are not defined by their keywords.