Did you know Google has teams of human quality-raters whose sole job is to rate the quality of websites?
Google gives them their own document in its “General Search Quality Guidelines.” Simply put, the searchers have to conduct various searches and rate how well the pages returned satisfy their query. This information then gets applied to Google’s algorithm so it can automatically apply the judgment to its search results.
Google does this for “offensive” and “upsetting” content. But of most concern to you is that they do this for “factually inaccurate” content. Google recently updated the section of their search guidelines that describes how evaluators should rate “inaccurate” content.
What Should You Do About This?
Truthfully, you don’t even need to look at the document to understand what to do. If you look from a high level at what Google’s trying to do strategically, they’re trying to clean up the web.
Users should be able to go to a website, get the information they want, and get a factually accurate answer.
What if there are different opinions on the correct answer to a question? Now, there’s a legitimate concern.
But again, you have to go back to what Google wants to do: help users. So if there are differing opinions on a particular subject, it’s okay to offer those as possible answers.
Let This Example Clear “Inaccurate” Up for You
Google offers an example in its search evaluator guidelines document. The website in question states (and this is serious):
“Christopher Columbus was born in 1951 in Sydney, Australia…”
You can see an image of this website here.
“Columbus knew he had to make this idea of sailing, using a western route, more popular. So, he produced and appeared on infomercials which aired four times daily.”
Clearly, that’s not accurate information. It’s not going to help the website’s users in any meaningful way.
If this were a humor website portrayed as such, it may not get subjected to the filter. However, as it is, it appears to want to be a legitimate website. So, its real motivation may be to deceive its intended target audience (young elementary school students).
Google doesn’t want that in its search results because users won’t find that helpful.
So when you publish blog posts or web pages, make sure your information has good factual backing. As long as you have solid intent to help your users, you’ll be okay.