Marketers, take note: be cautious about how accurately you present information on the web. It can soon influence your rankings.
A team of Google researchers recently published a paper on a new kind of way search engines will be able to evaluate the quality of web content for ranking purposes. They named this new factor Knowledge-Based Trust (KBT) and it aims to determine the trustworthiness of a piece of content by comparing it to Google’s Knowledge Vault – an enormous database of facts that the search engine has automatically gathered over the past few years.
How it works:
Historically, Google and other search engines have ranked websites mainly based on the popularity of their content (i.e. the relevancy, number and quality of links pointing to the site) and browsing history. However, these signals only tell how attractive the content is, not necessarily how accurate. The article provides an example about how gossip websites are hugely popular but useless when it comes to fact accuracy, contrasting them to less popular sites that are far more reliable with their accurate information. By relying on the Knowledge Vault, the KBT will be able to determine how trustworthy a site is and reward it for being so.
It is unknown when and how Google will implement this ranking factor and how much weight it will give it within the overall ranking algorithm. It is expected that this algorithm will only enhance the existing one, not replace it completely, as Google will still need to rely on popularity signals in the future.
Nevertheless, it is great news for new websites and specialist sites that have less links and shares, as they will likely have a better chance for good visibility now if they follow a strategy that supports content accuracy and truthfulness.
So what does this mean for marketers and content writers? The process of researching facts and determining the accuracy of information will be key. Sites with fewer false facts will be promoted in search engines and those filled with incorrect information or rumors will be penalized. Citations and references to reliable sources that are already considered trustworthy by Google will become important.
Additionally, keeping content fresh will also become critical. Facts change over time, so the act of updating old and outdated pieces of content needs to be taken into consideration when creating your content strategy.
This update shouldn’t come as a surprise to SEO and content specialists. They understand that the underlying principle of optimization is not about following and adjusting strategies for specific ranking algorithm updates, but rather aiming higher to provide real value for web users in the long term. Only when this becomes your ultimate goal will things fall neatly into place.