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Editorial boss welcomes Google move to boost original journalism

IanCarterEditorialDirectorKM (1)An editorial boss has shared his hope that a Google update will boost original journalism – warning publishers who “harvest” content that they may be penalised unless they change.

Iliffe Media editorial director Ian Carter, pictured, has welcomed what Google has termed the “helpful content update” that aims to improve the search rankings of original stories.

The tech giant’s update is aimed at dissuading publishers from creating online content “primarily for search engine traffic”, instead urging them to create “satisfying content, while also utilising SEO best practices to bring searchers additional value”.

In a Twitter thread, Ian shared his belief that the move will reward those who invest in original journalism, while those who do not do so may “suffer” as a result.

He wrote: “There’s nothing more frustrating for regional publishers than seeing their stories ripped off within minutes and then being buried in search results by the offenders.

“If this works, continuing to invest in original journalism should pay commercial dividends.

“If your publishing model involves scooping up every reporter on the market and directing them to harvest everyone’s stories, maybe you’ll suffer. Mentioning no names.

“And maybe, just maybe, we’ll see fewer ‘stories’ about supermarket opening times and the like.”

Google says the update automatically identifies content that “seems to have little value, low-added value or is otherwise not particularly helpful to those doing searches”.

It has also warned that sites “determined to have relatively high amounts of unhelpful content overall” are “less likely to perform well” in searches.

Speaking to HTFP, Ian said: “Anyone who works in the regional press will recognise the frustration of seeing a piece of original journalism picked up by a national news outlet and then finding the original article is buried in search results.

“Google have previously explained their logic for this change, and it’s hard for anyone to argue with – they want to promote the original source of stories at the expense of those who are repeating the information in the knowledge that their greater scale with benefit their search ranking.

“We’ve all also seen the stories trotted out constantly about supermarket bank holiday opening hours, the time the BBC is showing the final of Strictly and so on.

“You can’t blame publishers for exploiting the opportunity, but it’s hardly a sign of journalistic excellence.”