Last week on the 25th of April Google announced a very important search update called Google Owl. You can find the official announcement here: https://blog.google/products/search/our-latest-quality-improvements-search/
So what exactly is the Google Owl Update?
The Project Owl update is a Google response in combating fake news and offensive content.
Personally, I think it was about time that Google started to do something about fake news and low-quality content. Although the low-quality content has been demoted for years now in Google search I still believe that a lot of crazy and wild accusations somehow still manage to get authority as well as a good ranking position that leads to a lot of organic traffic on a garbage piece of content.
The real problem will be in how Google actually manages to pull this off.
How is Google going to combat fake news?
- Simply by pumping up results and content that it's coming from sources of high authority. This means newspapers and publications with high authority like most of the traditional media. I don't really agree with this actions because there is a very thin line in discrediting independent news agencies and fully trusting traditional media, which is not always right and non-political, in fact, most of the traditional media out there has a political agenda which will distort the truth.
- Will keep updating their quality raters guidelines and also make sure the new algorithm changes are implementing correct results.
- By giving users the option to leave feedback on autocomplete searches, you can comment or make a suggesting if you don't agree with an autocomplete Google is showing you. Google will actually ask you "Which predictions were inappropriate" and also provide you with a list of possible responses like: Hateful; Sexually explicit; Violent or includes dangerous and harmful activity, or Other (you can write your own).
- By giving users the option to also leave feedback and comments on featured snippets. You will have the possibility to submit edits to the feature snippet but also leave a feedback on what exactly do you think with some possible responses like This is helpful; Something is missing; Something is wrong and This isn't useful.
I personally tested this myself for a local brand I'm doing SEO for. The feature snippet featured a certain fruit that had a similar name with the brand I was doing SEO for, but the snippet was in English and I wanted Google to show my brand's Google Business Card instead of the feature snippet thingy. So I asked all of my co-workers to leave a "This isn't useful" feedback and eventually, the snippet disappeared through my Google My Business Card still didn't show up.
In conclusion: I believe Google is making some good steps against fake news and low-quality content but I also believe this new update will make life a living hell for new websites that target content in the political and social spectrum, they'll be discredited from the search results from the very start even if they are the only ones reporting on a certain subject, just because the big news agencies and websites haven't reported on it yet. At least this is what I think will happen after Google Owl algorithm update takes full effect.
We'll just need to wait and see the full effects of this update. I'm very curious how all these "feedback" features can and will be abused by black hat SEOs and what Google is going to do next once this happens.
What do you think about the Google Owl Update? Do you think we have a global problem with fake news that needs to be fixed?
What about the new feedback feature, how abused do you think this feature will be?