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I covered this the other day but it needs to be pulled out and emphasized as its own story. Google said that pages can be included in the top stories carousel and section even if the core web vitals is not “cleared” or met.

This seemed to be different from what we originally reported that Page experience scores will play a huge role in the Top Stories selection, instead of AMP. I guess it won’t.

Google wrote in the new FAQs:

Q: Am I eligible for Top Stories carousel if my webpage is not clearing Core Web Vitals?

A: Yes. With the upcoming change to Top Stories carousel, all web pages irrespective of their page experience status or Core Web Vitals score are eligible for Top Stories carousel. When the changes go live the compliance with Google News content policies will be the only requirement, and we will use page experience as a ranking signal across all the pages.

Google wrote again in that FAQ:

Q: If publishers decide not to use AMP, how will they know their content is eligible for Top Stories carousel?

A: With the upcoming change to Top Stories, any news publisher’s content whether via AMP or another technology is eligible provided it complies with Google News content policies. Whether content shows up in practice will depend on a number of factors that ranking considers, and page experience criteria will be one of them. To be clear, any content irrespective of its page experience metrics is eligible for Top Stories feature on Google Search.

Google wrote again on that page:

Q: If my AMP pages don’t have a good page experience, are they still eligible for the Top Stories Carousel?

A: Yes, any content that meets the Google News content policies is eligible to be displayed in the Top Stories carousel. Page experience refers to a collection of signals that are all important to deliver a good page experience, and the signals are becoming a factor in ranking, including in the Top Stories Carousel. This means that page experience factors, in addition to many other factors including the content itself and the match to the query, will determine its placement in the Top Stories carousel. Publishers should be focused on making improvements to page experience a relative priority over time as page experience ranking becomes the norm that users expect and other publishers would want to match.

Just to be clear, Google did change its policy around COVID news not needing to be AMP enabled. And I believe we saw Google testing non AMP results in the top stories section.

So this is a big change and yes, it surprised a lot of folks, including myself, which is why I am bringing it up again:

Here are some tweets:

I wonder what will happen in practice with top stories and core web vitals. But this is interesting to point out.

Forum discussion at Twitter.

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