Google announces new topic authority system to better surface news content
Google said this will help with newsy queries in specialized topic areas, such as health, politics, or finance.
Google has announced a search system named “topic authority” to help surface relevant, expert, and knowledgeable content in Google Search and Google News. Google said this “helps determine which expert sources are helpful to someone’s newsy query in certain specialized topic areas, such as health, politics, or finance.”
Not new. Google’s Search Liaison, Danny Sullivan, later said on Twitter that this is an old ranking system that they are just talking about now. “To add a bit more, this isn’t a new system that’s just launched. We’ve used it for several years. Our post today is part of our regular efforts to share more about how ranking works,” he said.
How it works. Google explained that the topic authority system looks at a number of signals to understand the expertise of a publication in a specific area of interest. These include but are not limited to:
- Notability of a source for its topic or location: Google now understands if a specific publication is “especially relevant to topics or locations.” For example, this site should be very relevant for topics on search marketing.
- Influential and original reporting: Google can understand how original the reporting is from a publication by looking at links, citations and other areas.
- Reputation of the source: Google can also look at the history of high-quality reporting, the recommendations from expert sources and more to see the reputation of the publication.
Example. Here is the example provided by Google, “there was a flood where you lived,” Google wrote. “The topic authority signal helps us identify content from publications in that region that regularly cover topics in your city or town and surface them towards the top of your search results. These are likely familiar publications that are trusted voices in the community, even though larger national outlets may be covering the flood as well,” Google added.
Practicality. Google said this should help surface content from original reporting news teams that are “intimately familiar with the location and topic.” Local news publications should show up more often for queries related to their local area. Publishers with a specific expertise should show up for queries on their areas of expertise.
Optimization. What should you do to optimize for topic authority? Google said just do what you are doing today, as you normally would. “Provide great coverage about the areas and topics they know well,” Google wrote.
Why we care. Hopefully if you are doing everything right, Google will reward your content and publication with better visibility and traffic from both Google Search and Google News.
Google also said this all should align with its guidance around helpful content.
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