Google said it determines what constitutes meaningful transparency from news sources by what types of information an ordinary person might find helpful.
Google has published more details on its transparency policies around Google News for publishers. This has come a few months after Google quietly published new manual actions for Google News and Google Discover content policies.
Google “considers what types of information an ordinary person might find helpful if they want to assess a site’s credibility” to determine “what constitutes meaningful transparency from news sources,” the policy states.
Article level factors. Google listed out these “article level” factors and signals that it may use to “consider information that helps users quickly gain context about articles or the journalists covering stories.” These signals and factors can include:
- An article byline that often links to a bio describing the author’s credentials and expertise.
- The article’s publishing date.
- Labeling to indicate the article type, for example, “Opinion” or “News.”
Site level factors. Google also listed out these “site level” factors and signals that “helps readers understand a site’s purpose, its organizational structure, and the kinds of information they can expect from that site.” These signals and factors include:
- The breadth of information, such as a mission statement, editorial policies and standards.
- Staff information and bios for both editorial and business staff.
- Non-generic contact information.
- Other organization-level information like owners and/or funding sources, for example, state sponsorship, relationship to political parties or PACs.
Other guiding principles. Google said to ensure its transparency policy is inclusive and responsive to industry changes, it has several more principles that guide Google’s approach. These include:
- Google does consider different regional and country-level expectations and practices around transparency. Google said that this is important in areas with less press freedom where practices like naming a journalist can carry significant risk.
- Google said it can look at a number of inputs and consider a breadth of editorial practices. This may help Google ensure that distinctive editorial philosophies—for example, publishing pieces without bylines—don’t affect the credibility of an otherwise authoritative source.
- Google can also consider information that is clearly available to users, “so that larger, more technically sophisticated sites and smaller sites that use simple text to convey information are on equal footing,” the company said.
Why we care. If you are a publisher and produce news content that you want to perform well in Google News, you should read the details above and make sure your site hits the mark on both the site-level and article-level criteria. You should also review in detail those manual actions linked to above.
Barry Schwartz a Contributing Editor to Search Engine Land and a member of the programming team for SMX events. He owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics. Barry’s personal blog is named Cartoon Barry and he can be followed on Twitter here.