Google is certainly unrelenting in its fight against fake news and content that is considered offensive, disturbing, or clearly misleading, as it officially announced the Project Owl algorithm. According to the search engine, their algorithm was being updated in order to boost, authoritative content while penalising low-quality content, specifically with queries that could display offensive or misleading material.
Further, Google introduced a feedback mechanism for featured snippets and auto-complete suggestions to swiftly obtain feedback from users on search results that are not in line with their guidelines. Google’s search quality rater’s guidelines were also updated to aid the fight and check that the algorithms were working accordingly. Meanwhile, what do the new changes mean?
Boosting authoritative content
As a way to fight the fake and offensive content that appear in search results, Google is keen on pushing for authoritative content. Google tags as offensive, any content that encourages violence or hate against a group of people based on a number of criteria ranging from gender and race, to religion and disability. Also tagged as offensive is any content that contains racial slurs, detailed how-to information about dangerous or harmful activities, and other types of content users in a particular locale would find intensely upsetting.
Featured Snippets feedback form
A Featured Snippet is an informational box displayed at the top of search results, designed to have a profound influence on the search experience. Featured Snippets are becoming even more important with the rise of voice search as they are the default answer to a user’s question. Google introduced a feedback form that lets users pick from a variety of tags that can be used to describe the content, and a space to make comments or suggestions. While individual snippets are not going to see immediate removal, Google will use the data to adjust the algorithm to effect the necessary changes.
Autocomplete feedback link
Designed to save time and help make searches faster, autocomplete suggests possible queries to users, drawn from the most popular searches. While it is a useful feature, occasionally, autocomplete may offer suggestions that are offensive or inappropriate. Google has now introduced a new “report inappropriate predictions” link that lets users flag predictions as violent, hateful, sexually explicit, or any other tag the user feels describes the suggestions.
It will take some time before Project Owl will be seen to impact search results; nonetheless, Google is clearly determined to present users with legitimate results. Meanwhile, new sites are not expected to find it more difficult to rank higher in search; neither will big brands have any advantage over smaller ones.