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New Google Search Rater Guidelines to Support Journalists and Publishers

Does Google ever sleep? Not likely, considering every other day it seems like new search updates are being announced.

Two weeks before the September 2019 Core Update, the search engine giant announced an algorithm change focused on highlighting original news reporting and journalism in search results.

In a blog post written by Google’s vice president of news, Richard Gingras, it was announced that Google had recently made ranking updates and changes to its search rater guidelines. These new guidelines will allow Google to better recognize instances of original reporting in order to display it more prominently in search results, and ensure it continues appearing in search results for longer periods of time.

What Is the Goal of This?

The goal is to not only allow readers to find the original article published covering a specific news story – rather than those picked up and published by larger publications after the fact – but benefit journalists and publishers by having their original reporting seen by a wider audience.

“While we typically show the latest and most comprehensive version of a story in news results, we’ve made changes to our products globally to highlight articles that we identify as significant original reporting,” wrote Gringas. “Such articles may stay in a highly visible position longer. This prominence allows users to view the original reporting while also looking at more recent articles alongside it.”

Gingras added that Google has not officially defined what is considered original reporting, as it can mean different things for different newsrooms. Therefore, Google’s efforts must “constantly evolve as we work to understand the life cycle of a story.”

How Rater Guidelines Will Change

In its new set of guidelines for the 10,000 raters who evaluate the quality of search results, Google has instructed raters to use the highest rating, known as “very high quality,” for original news reporting.

So, what will be considered “original reporting”?

Google news feed shows recent news articles about Google

While there is no formal definition, Google explains it as reporting that “provides information that would not otherwise have been known had the article not revealed it.” This also includes original, in-depth, investigative reporting that “requires a high degree of skill, time, and effort.”

Raters have also been instructed to consider the reputation of the publisher when assessing news pieces.

“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,” said Gingras. “Giving everyone better access to original journalism across all types of stories—ranging from movies, sports, music and celebrity scoops to the serious journalism behind #MeToo, the Panama Papers and the opioid crisis—is all about helping people stay informed about the news that matters to them.”