Truthfulness May Soon be a Ranking Factor in Google Search

Truthful website trophy

The truth will set us free—and in SEO, it can also take us to the top.

Google could launch a new algorithm that will rank search results based on the veracity of the site and its content. A report published in February by a team of Google researchers is recommending that the search giant use Knowledge-Based Trust (KBT) to evaluate a website’s ranking.

Knowledge, Truth, and Authority

In particular, the new program would rank websites according to their veracity, and sort results based on those rankings. Google is currently ranking pages according to popularity—including factors such as building backlinks, user engagement/signals, social signals, and quality content.

This means if the proposed algorithm will be rolled out, your page will appear higher up in the search results if it’s more truthful. This is bad news for celebrity gossip or conspiracy theory sites, as well as sites containing unsubstantiated information or false claims. This could help in keeping trolls and false information at bay.

Websites that say US President Barack Obama was born in Kenya, for example, will be penalized while sites that correctly say he was born in the US will get a rankings boost.

Content Vetting and Curation

The proposed algorithm works by tapping into Google’s Knowledge Vault—the vast repository of more than 2.8 billion facts pulled from the Internet.

In what looks like a small rollout of the program, Google recently implemented a type of KBT score lite on medical-related searches. Search results now provide medical-related information curated and vetted by real doctors and medical experts. In current events, this means anti-vaxx content will not appear in the top results for “measles”, for instance.

The new algorithm is still in the research phase, as scientists are still addressing numerous issues, including inclusion of new facts on a topic. Critics, however, see this as a step toward Google effectively censoring content it does not approve or is not in line with their beliefs.

If implemented, this means we’re likely to get more out of the quality content we produce. It just leaves us with the question: can you handle the truth?

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