The Internet is wonderful and terrible at the same time. When we need to research information, products, and more, we go to the Internet immediately. The terrible part? Trustworthy content on the Internet competes with content full of rumor, crazy conspiracy theories, and even downright lies for our attention. When asked about their trust of web content, 65% of more than 1600 respondents in our Content + Credibility Study said the content was “hit or miss” or altogether “unreliable.”

future of SEO

Google Tackles the Content Credibility Problem

Google has taken notice of this growing content credibility problem. What is the search engine giant doing about it? Researching methods to check facts noted in content and, then, penalize content that has incorrect facts (aka lies). By penalize, I mean Google would prioritize truthful content over content with lies in search results. Now, Google has steadily added indicators of content quality and credibility ever since its Panda release in 2011. For example, if many sites link to your content, that is one indicator people find the content useful. But, this is the first time Google would actually fact check. A few sites do fact check and correct rumors, such as FactCheck.org and Snopes, but no site has the power to penalize content with false facts. Only search engines a la Google can do that.

How serious is Google about this fact checking stuff? Very.

Google is actively researching its approach, as The New Scientist was first to report. In fact, researchers at Google published a scientific paper explaining how they’re using Knowledge Graph to automate checking facts and judging content credibility.

So, it’s not a matter of if Google will add fact checking to its search algorithm but when. Can you start preparing? Yes. More importantly, you can use this inevitable change to Google’s search algorithm to justify resources for your content strategy.

3 Opportunities to Prepare for Google’s Fact Checking

Let’s review three key ways to both prepare for Google’s algorithm change and, at the same time, advance your content strategy.

1. Clean up your content to get rid of outdated facts.

The last thing you want is to have facts in old content muck up Google’s assessment of your content. So, use Google’s impending changes as an excuse to have your organization update its content. Institute an archiving strategy, as well. For insights related to content archiving, see Don’t Let Outdated SEO Advice “Bumble” Your Content Archiving Strategy.

2. Get quality, credible content down to a science.

The basics of quality and credibility are no longer an option for your organization’s content if you want customers or other people to find it. For example,

  • Cite references for your facts when appropriate.
  • Give clear dates and make the source or author of your content clear. Here’s a quick reminder of why dates are important.
  • Does your website contain high-quality content? Find out with our Content Quality Checklist.

Also, don’t miss these resources:

3. Evaluate the effectiveness of your content monthly.

Don’t wait to see what happens to your content’s search performance when Google releases its fact checking component. Start evaluating the effectiveness of your organization’s content now—and continue to do it on a monthly basis. This regular assessment can help you not only identify content that isn’t likely to “play well” with Google but also gather evidence for what content works and what doesn’t.

How?

Tools can help. For example, we developed ContentWRX, a content evaluation platform that automatically assesses content effectiveness each month. Among its features, ContentWRX provides a breakdown of your content’s impact in these six dimensions:

  • Discovery (by search, social, and other means)
  • Polish
  • Accuracy
  • Usefulness
  • Relevance
  • Influence

The discovery, accuracy, and polish dimensions are particularly pertinent to Google’s impending fact checks.

Other tools that can help include:

  • Site quality tools such as SiteImprove.
  • Search engine optimization tools such as Moz.

When Google releases fact checking in its algorithm, Google will provide an explanation that should give clues to even more specific tactics you can use. But by taking advantage of these three opportunities now, you will not simply survive the future of SEO, you will garner the resources you need to thrive in it.

The Author

Colleen Jones is the author of The Content Advantage and founder of Content Science, a growing content intelligence and strategy company based in Atlanta GA. Content Science owns Content Science Review, Content Science Academy, and the content effectiveness software ContentWRX.  She also is the former Head of Content at Mailchimp. Colleen regularly consults with executives and practitioners to improve their strategy and processes for content.

Follow Colleen on Twitter at @leenjones or on LinkedIn.

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