Google, the world’s most popular search engine, renews its bid on prioritizing original content and investigative journalistic reporting by updating the guidelines in which their search result evaluators would rate news article – placing higher emphasis on pieces that contain original, unique, and fresh information that wouldn’t otherwise be known if not for those articles.
Prioritizing original journalistic stories
The tech giant wants to give a premium on investigative news contents and original journalistic articles that have to spend more time, effort, and resources in producing and publishing the said contents. Google said that there are articles that become so powerful that it becomes a source and is picked up by other publishers. The problem, they said, is that these original articles don’t get its well-deserved exposure as it doesn’t stay that long on the search result after it is being buried down by updates based on the article. It is this kind of journalistic practice that Google said they want to incentivize.
“Some stories can also be both critically important in the impact they can have on our world and difficult to put together, requiring reporters to engage in deep investigative pursuits to dig up facts and sources. These are among the reasons why we aim to support these industry efforts and help people get access to the most authoritative reporting,” Richard Gingras, Vice President in News from Google wrote in a blog post.
The move, Gingras said, would allow readers to see the original articles that kicked off the explosive stories that they read, which helps them understand where the story came from in the first place. “And in other cases, many stories cover a single news development, with all of them published around the same time. This can make it difficult for users to find the story that kicked everything off,” he added.
Revising the rater guideline to streamline Google’s search algorithm
In order to accomplish this goal, Google said that they have revised and updated the rating guidelines for search evaluators or raters. Around the world, there are more than 10,000 raters that Google entrust the task of identifying whether or not the algorithm should pick up an article and display it on top of the news stories search results. These raters are tasked to “validate our algorithms and help our systems understand the authoritativeness of individual pages.”
However, while the feedback of these raters is important in improving and fine-tuning the search algorithm used by Google, they don’t necessarily make an impact on how an existing algorithm works and will not affect the articles they are reviewing. Instead, according to Gingras, they are used to develop an enhanced algorithm that would be applicable to all news articles.
In the updated version of the rater guidelines, Google instructs their raters to give a “very high quality” score to original content “that provides information that would not otherwise have been known had the article not revealed it. Original, in-depth, and investigative reporting requires a high degree of skill, time, and effort.”
Not only that the company wants to implement this change on the article level, but they also want their raters to evaluate contents on the page level, thus giving more premium to publishers who have good reputations in publishing original contents.
“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,” reads the blog post.
For Google, providing people and readers better access to original journalism across all genre helps them stay informed on the stories that matter to them.