fake news newspaper
2 May 2017 | Evie Palaiochorinou

3 Ways Google is Winning the Fake News Battle

Fake news quickly became a destructive force last autumn after grabbing the headlines during the US Elections. Google and Facebook have both come under attack by those feeling they weren’t doing enough to stop its spread. Both internet giants have since formulated their own strategies to deal with the problem.

Facebook has announced a series of guidelines aimed to help users spot and report fake news whilst also blocking ad services for fake news publishers. Google’s strategy to combat fake news is called ‘Project Owl’ and it includes three distinct strands;

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#1 Problematic Search Suggestions Reporting System

In February, Google rolled out a test to give users the opportunity to report offensive and ‘problematic’ search suggestions. In this approach Google hopes to collect enough  data to change their algorithm to improve search suggestions, instead of having to check and remove problematic and obscure search suggestions manually. Nonetheless, ‘problematic suggestions’ won’t disappear overnight,  it will take some time while Google works to find the best solution to push back or delete them.

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#2 Featured Snippets Feedback Form

Google has become increasingly concerned about irrelevant and inaccurate featured snippets. These snippets, or position 0 listings, appear whenever Google’s algorithm believes that a result answers a specific query accurately. Voice searches are under scrutiny too as these featured snippets are sometimes the answer that Google Home gives in response to voice queries. Problematic responses are now creating a debate around the usability and trustworthiness of Google Home. Google is fighting back with a feedback form focused only on featured snippets in order to improve the results. In addition, there is also a special feedback system through Google Home for users to orally report an irrelevant or offensive response.

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#3 Improving Search Quality

Google is also attacking problematic featured snippets in the SERPs. It’s doing this by improving search quality in general and trying to make more authoritative content more visible for unusual queries. Google won’t say what makes a page more ‘authoritative’ than others, but admits there’s not only one signal. Something to note, though, is that users are reporting Google’s SERPs are still better and more relevant than Bing’s.

In summary, Google is tackling the fake news problem with two tactics.  First, it is trying to suppress content that looks like it’s accurate but it’s not. Secondly, it is trying to give a boost to more authoritative content at the same time.  Google hasn’t given out any specific information on how they are tweaking the algorithm and what the new ranking factors will be. However, we can safely assume that pages are going to be rewarded if they are factually accurate.   Google loves accurate and trustworthy results, therefore our guess is that at some point there will be a shift in ranking websites according to accuracy, in addition to al- important quality link building.

What can a brand do to become more authoritative?

  • Always run a fact check when editing your content.
  • Make sure you rely on several trusted sources. Internet websites often give incorrect information so double-check copy to ensure it is backed up by a number of sources.
  • Be sure that you are sharing facts. If you are not 100% certain, don’t post your article.
  • Fulfil user intent as best as you can. Always ask yourself, what do my users want to know? and write about that.
  • Reference your sources using the Claim Review Schema.

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 Beat fake news sites in the SERPs

If you want to ensure your website is robust and authoritative enough to ensure it’s beating fake news sites in the SERPS speak to the Tamar experts.  We can help you implement structured data as well as ensuring your content is authoritative so you can reach position 0 and overtake the fake news sites.

Evie Palaiochorinou

Evie Palaiochorinou

Digital Marketing Specialist