Google is looking to implement a new way of delivering news results. Instead of delivering them via date (most recent news items to match the search query are moved to the top) they want to rate the news sources by their credibility.
Rating web sites by their credibility is nothing new. Google and other search engines have been striving to do this for some time, but in SEO-speak we call such credible sites “hubs” or “authorities”. Any site that becomes an authority on a given subject is given increased weight in the results and is more likely to move to the top, even for keywords that are only briefly mentioned on a page. I suppose, however, it is possible for a site to become an authority while maintaining very little credibility to the masses.
Credibility is subjective from person to person. A ‘credible’ witness can be exposed as a liar under cross examination in a courtroom. A ‘credible’ news source can be found out to be a partisan hack. ‘Credible’ documents can air on the evening news only to quickly be discredited once determined to have been forged. You get the point.
So is it a good thing that Google wants to return search results based on the news sources ‘credibility’? Hard to say. Both the New York Times and FOX news would certainly qualify as news “authorities” but I give one far more credibility than the other. If both release stories on a current political issue, each taking a considerably different analytical approach, which story will be more ‘credible’?
If Google determines one news outlet to be most credible, will that mean that their stories will always maintain the top positions for related searches? What about the smaller news outlets that get less exposure. Will they be less credible simply because they have a smaller subscriber base?
I’m not suggesting Google’s approach to this is wrong. If they feel they can improve relevance then I guess we’ll have to let the results speak for themselves. It’s only Google’s credibility at stake.