Remember when Al Gore famously said he “created the internet?”
See him saying it here at about 50 seconds into the video:
Who knows his intent. Maybe he just got caught up in the moment and lost track of what he was saying.
Regardless, it was a factually inaccurate statement.
When you consider search, Google wants to remove as much factually inaccurate content from its results as possible.
Google employs hundreds of people to manually review websites and rate the content as good, bad, spam, or useful. No one knows the precise impact their ratings have on Google’s search algorithm. But we do know their opinion gets factored into algorithm updates.
Google gives its evaluators nearly 160 pages of guidelines to shape their decision-making.
And one of the latest changes involves demoting “factually inaccurate content.”
How Does Google Understand Factually Inaccurate Content?
As you know, there are many opinions on nearly every topic out there. Facts disagree.
Sometimes, it’s not so obvious. And, of course, you don’t want to find yourself in the trap of unintentionally angering Google.
First, check out this example from page 10 of Google’s evaluation guidelines:
“Christopher Columbus was born in 1951 in Sydney, Australia.”
I’m no history buff…but that sounds factually inaccurate to me.
And it is. However, in this case, teachers set up this website for elementary school students to practice their fact-checking skills. You find this out as your read their other pages.
While factually inaccurate, the site serves a “helpful and beneficial purpose.” So, it’s not going to get docked in Google’s search rankings.
In example two, take a look at humor website OM NOM NOM NOM:
You see a mouth drawn on a drier. Again, technically that’s factually inaccurate.
…But remember this is a humor website. So Google once again says this site has “a helpful or beneficial purpose.”
It provides value (humor) to its audience. It’s not attempting to deceive them in any way.
Google Doesn’t Like This Kind of Content
Google offers search evaluators this example of “Low-Quality Content:”
Right away, it has a couple obvious grammar errors. And while you can’t see it in this screenshot, later on, it says an “endless amount of nuclear power can be found in the different ocean across the world.”
That’s not really the case. The article does say uranium can be found in abundant quantities throughout the ocean. But saying we have an endless amount of nuclear power available in our oceans is something else altogether. And the article offers nothing to substantiate that claim.
Clearly, not much effort or thought was put into this content. So, it gets docked by search evaluators.
How Useful Is Your Content?
Google’s not asking search evaluators to pull anything tricky here. Nothing sounds unreasonable.
Basically, if you’re going to publish on the web, keep what you say factually accurate. Make sure you have perfect spelling and grammar (a typo here and there isn’t anything to worry about).
But above all, be useful. Make sure your readers can take something from your content and put it into action, or make a more informed decision with it.
Yes, it really is that simple.