Google’s New Fact Checking Feature is Filtering the Internet
Would you be surprised to learn that approximately 23% of information and news on the internet is fake according to Pew Research Center. Maybe not, considering recent publicity about “fake news” during the 2016 presidential election. Facebook and Google received so much negative attention for perpetuating false stories about the candidates that they have begun taking measures to validate and regulate information circulating the internet. Today, both sources offer disclaimers about information or news that appears to be fictitious. Whether debunking the urban legend that solo-travelers often wake up in a bathtub full of ice with a missing kidney, or that Pope Francis endorsed Donald Trump, the internet is cracking down on rumors.
What is Google Fact Check?:
Google’s new fact checking feature is the first search engine attempt to filter content on the internet. We want to use the word “filter” with caution because Google is not restricting information (which would be illegal). Instead, the search engine is prioritizing validated sources in their ranked search results and providing “fact snippets” when possible citing verified information as the first search result. The trick is that these results (and their effectiveness) depend largely on the search terms used when posing a query. For example, USA conducted a test assessing the myth that former President Barack Obama was not an American citizen. The results were a true SEO catch-22.
When USA Today journalists searched for “Obama Kenyan citizen” the search engine yielded a validated Snopes.com dissent, with a Google-endorsed myth-buster as the first search result. However, when searching for “Obama birth certificate fake,” no Google fact snippet is available. In instances where Google has not yet validated a query, the highest-ranking SEO results appear … which happens to be a fake article supporting the birther movement. This is to say that Google’s fact checker is only as good as the SEO search terms and tagging in place today.
If the search terms match a query that has been validated by Google, users will see where the question originated, where the answer has been validated by third parties, and whether it is true or false. Google isn’t fact-checking queries itself, simply leaning on third-party or non-partisan sources to highlight the best results. Unfortunately, it’s up to brands to fill in gaps where Google verification does not yet exist or where there is not a perfect search match. That’s where you come in.
Why This Matters for Your Brand?:
As Google’s fact checking capabilities expand, it will continue to rely on SEO to determine the best, most accurate, and most valid results, resources, and websites. Your brand needs to meet and exceed baseline search engine requirements to stay relevant and rank appropriately in this brave new world. While your products may not be taking a stand on political myths, the veracity and relevance of your content will play into the larger search ecosystem and how you stack up when people search for what the best brand in your industry is today.
If it feels like the pressure is on to clean up your SEO strategy to ensure your site’s continued relevancy, you’re probably right. But don’t worry. Our team of search specialists can help audit your site to determine if the appropriate search terms are appearing in your content and at the right frequency. They can analyze whether your images and rich media content is tagged properly and linking to the best external resources. We can help build out a blog and supporting social media content to drive traffic and links toward your site. We’ve got your back.
Take a look at our services page to understand the type of SEO options our team provides and how we can enhance your current ranking, while safeguarding your site for everything the future will bring. Simply contact us to set up a free consultation about your site’s search engine readiness.