SEO News You Can Use: Google Unfolds New Info on Topic Authority Ranking System

SEO News You Can Use: New Updates to Chrome FLEDGE

In an effort to “share more about how ranking works,” Google published an article outlining how their “Topic Authority” ranking system works.

While this may sound unfamiliar, Topic Authority has always been part of Google’s comprehensive collection of ranking systems, which you’ll find in this document

Someone pointed out that Topic Authority isn’t there yet, but Google promises they’ll update the document to include more details.

In a nutshell, Topic Authority helps users find more reliable, expert content when it comes to more specialized topics, such as:

  • Health
  • Politics
  • Finance

Among other things, Google looks at these most prominent three ranking signals to identify a publisher’s expertise and areas of interest:

  • Notability. The source should be intimately familiar with the topic you’re searching for. For example, if you’re looking for information about a local sports club, a local news outlet will more likely appear on top of your search results.
  • Influence and original reporting. Google looks at how frequently other publications cite or link back to a source to identify its influence and authority. This is with the assumption that the source material would be cited the most, meaning they originally reported about it.
  • Source reputation. Google also looks at the publication’s history of high-quality journalism and reporting. They do this by examining citations from expert sources and reviewing the publication’s awards.

You may be asking why Google is doing this when ranking news content. After all, you can just get news from any publication. It turns out they want to increase the visibility of local news outlets when someone searches for a more localized news query.

According to Google, “Topic authority has been an important signal to better serve local news queries — giving readers around the world more helpful local and regional content in both Top Stories and other news features.”

For example, suppose there was a flood in Nashville, and you want to know more about it. If you Google Nashville flood, your SERPs will prioritize news from local outlets, even if they’re not the freshest articles out there. This is because Google identified them as “trusted voices in the community,” despite having larger national outlets also covering the flood.

Does this change anything moving forward? Probably not. As Google pointed out, this is not a new ranking system. In fact, they’ve already been implementing Topic Authority for several years. This is also consistent with their ongoing effort to provide high-quality, helpful content for users.

If you’ve been a local publisher for years now, just keep doing what you’re doing: “provide great coverage about the areas and topics [you] know well,” said Google.

This means keep providing original articles, reporting and expertise on topics you’re intimately familiar with. While Google may not reward you for it immediately, they will eventually figure out what sort of content you should rank highly in search engine results pages (SERPs).

More SEO News You Can Use

SSL Won’t Boost Your SEO – Google Exec: Google Search Advocate John Mueller recently clarified that an SSL certificate does not contribute significantly to a website’s search engine optimization (SEO). In reply to a Mastodon post, he said, “@EncryptedFence this does not “Boost your website’s SEO,” sorry.” While HTTPS was a lightweight ranking factor back in 2014, its relevance in SEO has diminished over time. Its adoption has become so ubiquitous that it has lost any real SEO advantage it once had. This is a point that Mueller previously nailed in 2019. In a tweet reply, Mueller said, “HTTPS is not a factor in deciding whether or not to index a page, at all.” So, should you get an SSL certificate and HTTPS protocol? Of course, but for better security and user privacy, not SEO. Read the full story in this article from Search Engine Journal.

Google Publishes AI Policy Agenda, Wants Less Regulation: Google published its artificial intelligence or AI policy agenda, outlining suggestions for responsible AI development and government regulations. Notably, Google discourages increased government regulation and corporate transparency, citing these factors as hindrances to AI innovation. The paper says, “Transparency, which can support accountability and equity, can come at a cost in accuracy, security, and privacy.” This contrasts with OpenAI’s public stance of increased government oversight to prevent AI misuse and abuse. Another curious thing in their published paper is the lack of stance on open-source AI, which is only mentioned once in the section addressing AI misuse. Very recently, an internal memo got leaked detailing open-source AI’s significant advantages over proprietary AI by big tech companies like OpenAI and, yes, Google. Explore more of this story from Google’s blog post here.

Conversational Experience Is Coming to Google Ads: Google announced new generative AI features for Google Ads. Very soon, you can utilize a natural-language conversational experience for creating ads directly within the platform. This conversational experience leverages large language models and cutting-edge generative AI to make the process smoother by suggesting keywords and developing headlines, descriptions, images and more for your campaigns. If you need human refinement, Google says, “You can review and easily edit these suggestions before deploying.” You can even develop alternative ads to ensure you’re putting your best foot forward. Google Ads has also improved the automatically created ads (ACA) using this tech, making them more relevant to search queries. Even though it looks promising, it might not fit every industry, primarily highly regulated ones. Learn more about this news with this brief article from Search Engine Roundtable.

Bing Becomes ChatGPT’s Default Search Engine: Microsoft’s search engine, Bing, has announced a key integration with OpenAI’s ChatGPT to improve user search results. In their blog post, Bing says, “ChatGPT will now have a world-class search engine built-in to provide timelier and more up-to-date answers with access from the web.” Subscribers to ChatGPT Plus are already being treated to this functionality, while free users can soon activate the plugin feature too. Aiming to expand the AI plugin ecosystem, Microsoft and OpenAI are working together to deploy more relevant recommendations based on user conversations through Bing-powered ChatGPT. Microsoft is also bringing these plugin experiences to Bing Chat and the Edge sidebar within the next few weeks. These significant developments are part of Bing’s ongoing search transformation journey, providing users with a seamless and more efficient experience. Check out this article from Search Engine Journal for more of this news.

Ad-Free Search Engine Neeva Is Discontinued: Founded in 2019 as an alternative to Google, the ad-free search engine struggled to attract a dedicated user base, leading to its closing down on June 2, 2023. The company recently announced NeevaAI, a generative AI search product that provides summaries and citations in its generated answers. NeevaAI even managed to pull this off before Microsoft’s New Bing launch and Google’s own yet-to-be-launched Search Generative Experience. Neeva launched in the U.S. in June 2021 and initially charged users $4.95 monthly for its services. However, it later began offering a free basic subscription in 2022. While the search engine did offer an alternative to Google, which many considered a positive step, it was not enough to sway die-hard Google users. With the rise of generative AI and LLMs, it remains to be seen if other search engines will face a similar fate. But for now, Neeva’s journey has come to an end.

Editor’s Note: “SEO News You Can Use” is a weekly blog post posted every Monday morning only on, rounding up all the top SEO news from around the world. Our goal is to make a one-stop-shop for everyone looking for SEO news, education and for hiring an SEO expert with our comprehensive SEO agency directory.

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