My friend Niall sent me this article from the New Scientist highlighting Google’s plan to rank its news search results according to the credibility of the sources.
At present, results are ranked according to a complex formula including relevance, popularity, date and keyword occurrence. In the future, Google plans to fact in the number of stories issued by news sources as well as “average story length, number with bylines, and number of the bureaux cited, along with how long they have been in business. Google's database will also keep track of the number of staff a news source employs, the volume of internet traffic to its website and the number of countries accessing the site”.
From ZDNET India: “The company goes on to describe how content published by news outlets such as CNN and BBC, or companies that are "widely regarded as high quality sources of accuracy of reporting, professionalism in writing," may be of greater interest to its customers, and therefore should top news search results.”
And that could be extended to search results too:
“The patent also reveals that the same system could be roped in to rank other search results, not simply news.”
It is good news for companies who struggle to protect their online reputation (the likelihood of bumping into www.boycottdelta.org will be more remote). EBay does use sellers’ reputation successfully and it forces everyone to behave. It’s about transparency and it’s an increasingly valuable currency.
But I am not too sure if I like this idea…
It will prevent newcomers and start-ups to compete on an equal footing with large established business. On the blogs side, it means consolidation where established blogs will take most of the visibility, making it harder for new bloggers to be seen and heard. It also means that established media will keep their stronghold on news and information and that whistleblowers and independent media will be pushed down the rankings.
At least this is my initial reaction, pending further information on what the formula to measure authority and credibility entails.