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Google On How it Ranks News Sources

Google shares new details about how it ranks news sources, with transparency being a major factor.

Google On How it Ranks News Sources

Google values transparency when it comes to elevating news sources. The company shares more information about what that means in practice.

In a blog post, Google details how it assesses transparency in order to determine which publishers to prioritize across surfaces like Google News and the the top stories carousel in search results.

Transparency is treated as an important element because it helps to ensure visitors can learn more about the publication they’re getting news from, and the authors who are writing it.

Google notes that transparency is a contributing factor in evaluating the trustworthiness and authoritativeness of news sources.

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Google shares the following details in an effort to help publishers understand what it looks for in a transparent news source and how to meet that criteria.

How Google Evaluates Transparency in News Sources

Google looks for these elements on a publisher’s site to determine its level of transparency:

  • Publishing date
  • Author bylines
  • Author bios
  • Contact information
  • Background information about the publisher, company, or network
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Google considers this to be information a regular person would find helpful if they wanted to assess a site’s credibility. In addition, Google says this is in alignment with academic research, journalism best practices, and its own user testing.

Other principles that guide Google’s approach to evaluating transparency include:

  • Regional and country-level expectations: Google recognizes there are areas of the world where naming a journalist carries significant risk.
  • Varying editorial practices: Distinctive editorial philosophies, such as publishing pieces without bylines, won’t affect the credibility of an otherwise authoritative source.
  • Availability to users: Google aims to give equal footing to large sites with technical UI’s and smaller sites that use simple text-based UI’s.

“Our systems are designed to use these guiding principles when assessing if a site adheres to our transparency policy.”

Google further breaks down how it uses these principles to assess transparency at the site level and the article level.

Evaluating Transparency At The Article Level

At the article level, Google looks for information that helps users quickly gain context about the story or the journalists covering the stories.

Publishers can send these signals to Google by including article bylines that link to a bio page, publishing dates, and labels to indicate the article type.

Evaluating Transparency At The Site Level

At the site level, Google looks for information that helps visitors understand the publication’s purpose, its organizational structure, and the kinds of information they can expect to read.

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There’s a number of ways to communicate that information to Google, such as:

  • A mission statement
  • Editorial policies and standards
  • Staff information and bios for both editorial and business staff
  • Non-generic contact information
  • Other organizational-level information like owners and/or funding sources (for example, state-sponsorship, relationship to political parties or PACs)

Google concludes its explainer with a note about how it aims to evolve these policies while being mindful of differences in local norms and editorial philosophies:

“Transparency requires a thoughtful approach that is attuned to differences in local norms, editorial philosophies, and resources, as well as being dynamic and reflective of evolving standards. We hope our commitment here and to all our news policies helps people around the world stay better informed about the news, and helps news sources be recognized for their work.”

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Source: Google Search Central Blog

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Matt Southern

Lead News Writer at Search Engine Journal

Matt Southern has been the lead news writer at Search Engine Journal since 2013. With a degree in communications, Matt ... [Read full bio]

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