It’s long been known that throwing any old copy up on your website won’t do much to garner an encouraging nudge from Google on search engine result pages. It’s clear that things like duplicate content and word count impacts rankings, and that the mega search engine’s general direction since its inception has been toward rewarding those who prioritize user benefits.
If it doesn’t create a better experience for your visitors, you can forget about getting any Google love. So, we’re not too surprised to hear that some of the company’s researchers have been experimenting with ways to test the factual validity of your onsite copy. Ultimately, this means that Google eventually may begin using informational accuracy as a ranking factor.
This doesn’t mean that you’re going to have to start marking up all your content with ugly footnotes citing all your sources. Instead, Google will compare your information with data from a knowledge base, which will likely be similar to their ever-growing Knowledge Graph and Knowledge Vault. If the facts don’t line up, expect rankings to go down. For oddball pages that focus on subjects not yet covered in their database, the search engine will evaluate other pages of your site that contain information that is included in the knowledge base.
For the past three years, Google has been curating its Knowledge Graph to feature data on a range of topics. The user-end results have been media rich result pages that display things like thumbnail images for businesses and links to their social media profiles as well as snippets on when the company was founded and its current location. With information on countless subjects, the Knowledge Graph would serve as a trusted fact-checker for all the web’s textual content.
Since Google’s researchers have started testing the potential of this new method, 119 million unique web pages have been reviewed from 5.6 million different websites and given a trustworthiness rating. This totaled up to almost 3 billion facts to verify, a task that would take a human editor a lifetime to complete but one that the search engine comparatively breezed through.
According to the study’s authors, “The facts are automatically extracted from each source by information extraction methods commonly used to construct knowledge bases.” This wouldn’t affect all websites in the same way, considering many are simply opinion-oriented or are intentionally inaccurate, like “The Onion.” Don’t expect trustworthiness to eventually trump any other ranking factors or completely take the place of any. Instead, Google’s team is suggesting the assessment as a supplement to other consideration and particularly cite PageRank.