Did you know that the Earth is really Sicilian-pizza-pie-shaped with pepperoni-shaped land masses wedged on top? It’s true because it’s on the internet. I read it on www.RealNewsForRealz.com.

Look, it says it right there. The Earth is shaped like a Sicilian pizza pie.

Open any social media site, read any newspaper or rummage through online forums and you will most certainly find the concept of “fake news” circling the outlets. The popular phrase was made famous during the recent political campaign and it’s no surprise that Google is jumping on the “fake news” bandwagon as well.

Ben Gomes, vice president of engineering for Google Search describes fake news as,” content on the web that has contributed to the spread of blatantly misleading, low quality, offensive or downright false information.“ To combat the spread of this fake news and return higher quality search results to its users, Google announced a new search initiative called “Project Owl.”

Project Owl involves a three-part approach:

  1. New feedback form for Autocomplete search suggestions
  2. New feedback form for “Featured Snippets” answers
  3. Improvements in search quality for “authoritative content”

Let’s take a look at each one in more detail:

Feedback form for autocomplete search suggestions

You will notice Google’s Autocomplete feature when you type a query in the search box. Inside this box, Google offers several suggestions on what you may want to search for.

Since Google’s autocomplete suggestions hail from popular searches, there may be times when autocomplete returns back offensive or misleading information. This is what Google is trying to fix with Project Owl.

To that end, Google implemented a form allowing users to offer feedback on which autocomplete predictions are inappropriate:

To see the form, simply click on the text “Report inappropriate predictions.”

Google will gather this feedback and review the data to devise a solution. The search giant won’t automatically remove the data from one suggestion, but if there is an overwhelming amount of feedback, it may pull a particular suggestion from the search results until it can get reviewed in more detail. The goal is to collect enough data so that it can improve search for its users over time.

New feedback form for Featured Snippets

Have you ever seen the answer boxes at the top of Google’s search results? These are featured snippets. Featured snippets show up as an elevated search result and outlined in a box to show emphasis.

Google has come under scrutiny for publishing featured snippet answers that are problematic or incorrect. Guardian.com published an article about this problematic content and showed Google’s snippet suggestion to the query “are women evil.”

You will cringe just reading this:

To prevent this type of content from ranking in the search results, Google is asking for specific feedback by updating its Featured Snippet form with new options:

Similar to the autocomplete form, Google hopes to gather enough data so it can make more effective decisions on what content is problematic or inappropriate for its users.

Improvements in search quality for “authoritative content”

Google wants to place more emphasis on authoritative content for infrequent searches to further improve its suggestions and snippets. The search engine began this effort back in December and will continue by instructing its search quality raters to flag any offensive or inappropriate content. Google’s goal is to rank high-quality authoritative content higher and prevent non-authoritative content from ranking. The process will take time but the search engine is dedicated to fixing the problem and improving its results.

What This Means For Content Marketers

For the people who churn out high quantities of low-quality, non-researched, content, their success may be short-lived. But, for value-driven content marketers, these improvements are a step in the right direction. It’s no secret that publishing high-quality content is paramount to business success. But, now, Google will be working for us to ensure that this content is more readily available in the search results to the people who want to see it.

Are you producing the type of high-quality content Google will want to rank highly in its search results? If not, or you don’t know how to, we can help. Try us out for free and get custom content ideas, one Google-loving content piece that is yours to use forever, a traffic-driving promotion program and more. No obligation or commitment required.