Google search changes will better recognize original reporting: Richard Gingras

Google plans to give more prominence to original journalism in its news searches, according to the company’s VP of News Richard Gingras.

Writing in a company blog last week, Gingras said Google is changing the way it displays search results to “better recognize original reporting, surface it more prominently in Search and ensure it stays there longer.”

Google has been criticised by publishers who invest in independent journalism because it helps copycat news sites by giving prominence to their stories as the news cycle develops and they rip-off original stories using low paid workers who do not do the investigative work to source stories themselves, they simply rewrite the work of others. The Daily Mail is one of those sites to come under scrutiny for copy cat journalism (see this Media Watch report).

This is a good move not just for large newsrooms, but also for smaller professional trade publications such as this one, which do original research and reporting for stories.

What does your website need to do to help Google prioritise your original reporting and to keep your stories at the top of search for longer? Google has set it all out in a guidelines document here. Amongst many other things, the document outlines how it defines copy-cat content ‘scraping.’


Google will consider a website to be highest quality when it is created with “a high degree of time and effort, and in particular, expertise, talent, and skill—this may provide evidence for the Expertise, Authority and Trustworthiness of the page.” Such sites will receive more prominence in search and their breaking stories will remain at the top of searches longer.


The changes to Google’s news search results mean that readers interested in the latest news “can find the story that started it all, and publishers can benefit from having their original reporting more widely seen,” according to Gingras, who explains in his blog:

In today’s fast-paced world of news, the original reporting on a subject doesn’t always stay in the spotlight for long. Many news articles, investigations, exclusive interviews or other work can be so notable that they generate interest and follow-up coverage from other publications. 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.

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. 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.

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.

Google uses algorithms to sort through everything it finds on the web and organize the content in a way that is helpful. Those algorithms are composed of hundreds of different signals that are constantly updated and improved. To tune and validate our algorithms and help its systems understand the authoritativeness of individual pages, Google has more than 10,000 raters around the world evaluating its work. Their feedback doesn’t change the ranking of the specific results they’re reviewing but it does help improve Google’s search algorithms.

The change of policy is a good one, which should help quality online reporting get the hits it deserves, if Google can succeed in its aims.

Read the full blog article, titled Elevating original reporting in Search here.

See an ABC Lateline interview with Richard Gingras here.


About the Author

Steve Ahern is the founding editor of this website.

He is a former broadcaster, programmer, senior executive and trainer who now runs his own company Ahern Media & Training Pty Ltd.

He is a regular writer and speaker about trends in media.

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