Google announced yesterday that it will fight the spread of “fake news” and conspiracy theories via new user-generated reporting methods. Per Google’s blog, the search giant has “…adjusted our signals to help surface more authoritative pages and demote low-quality content, so that issues similar to the Holocaust denial results that we saw back in December are less likely to appear.”
The issue they reference was when a neo-Nazi white supremacist website was ranking in the top of the search results for related queries. This sort of hate speech needs to be stopped for a variety of reasons.
Google has also had issues with its autocomplete function in the search bar which shows suggested or related searches based on the first few words typed. Recently, misleading and/or violent content was being shown.
One way Google is stopping the spread of these misleading news articles, is by creating a reporting feature which will be available in the featured snippets section. This is the “answer box” which appears for queries like “how do you make apple pie?” In the screenshot above, you’ll see step-by-step instructions pulled from Pillsbury website. The idea being for users to see a rich preview of the page results before clicking over to it.
Google feels it has a responsibility to combat people who try to “game the system” and make sure that “fake news” isn’t spread. And Google is using this algorithm to combat this huge issue which is a relatively recent phenomenon. After all, there are trillions of searches performed in Google annually. And 15% of searches seen daily are new ones.
Similarly. Facebook released a fact-checking tool for news articles posted on its social network last month.
Ranking changes may occur as a result of this update. Per their blog, they “combine hundreds of signals to determine which results we show for a given query—from the freshness of the content, to the number of times your search queries appear on the page.” What this means is that if your content is strong, accurate, and well-positioned you are poised to rank better than your competitors.