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May 18, 2015

I’m Often Asked, Do People Really Believe Everything They Read on the Web?

And yes, sometimes they do. You may say that’s great; we have a good brand, high levels of customer service and we want the world to know. Unfortunately, search engines don’t currently distinguish the truth from hearsay which means untruthful, negative content can rank more highly in search engine results than accurate content. To understand…

And yes, sometimes they do. You may say that’s great; we have a good brand, high levels of customer service and we want the world to know. Unfortunately, search engines don’t currently distinguish the truth from hearsay which means untruthful, negative content can rank more highly in search engine results than accurate content.

To understand how this can happen, we need to understand the algorithm that Google is currently using to determine the order of search results. Search engines assume that the more popular a site, page or document, the more valuable the information it contains must be.

Unfortunately, popular doesn’t always mean correct, take for example celebrity gossip websites.

To determine a site’s popularity and therefore relevance, search engines use mathematical equations called algorithms to sort the wheat from the chaff (relevance), and then to rank the wheat in order of quality (popularity).

I’m sure you’d agree that when a reputation is at risk, anything which helps to separate the truth from untruth and help it to rise to the top, is a welcome development. Internet search results are vitally important for anyone wanting to build a strong image online. How a business or a brand is profiled on page one, in particular, can make or break a business.

At Igniyte, where I’m a Managing Partner, we work with clients globally, helping them to deal with any issues that they may be facing online. Common issues include defamation, unsubstantiated reviews or forum posts, trolling and bad press. We also support customers to build and maintain a positive profile, which is essential for any individual or business wishing to build a robust brand online.

And Google believes it may have the answer. In a recent research paper – Knowledge Based Trust – Google has announced its intention to implement such a filter. An algorithm they are calling ‘Knowledge Based Truth’ which will be able to sort and rank pages based on the accuracy of content.

And Google isn’t the only company that understands accurate content is key to the future of the web. According to RT.news, “The news comes at a time when app developers are working on ways to verify all kinds of online content including – mailboxes, webpages, and applications – by cross-referencing online information with aggregates like PolitiFact, FactCheck.org, and Snopes.”

How will it work?

Although still under development, we do know that Google’s ‘truth algorithm’ can’t and won’t just rely on third-party signals such as links. According to a New Scientist report, it will also search for facts and check them for accuracy against “Google’s Knowledge Vault, a collection of 2.8 billion facts extracted from the internet.”

It’s by this process of searching for facts and cross-referencing them against those stored in the ‘knowledge vault database’, that Google believes it can determine the accuracy and give each page a ‘truth score’.

Of course, it’s not going to be simple or without problems. The algorithm searches for three factors it calls “knowledge triples” consisting of a subject, a predicate, and an object. A subject is a “real-world entity” such as people, places or things. A predicate describes an attribute of that entity. An object is “an entity, a string, a numerical value, or a date.” Those three attributes together form a fact. An example of a triple is: The sun is hot.

Pages with a high proportion of false claims would be bumped down in the search results allowing accurate content to rise to the top.

Working to improve quality and relevance of content across the web

Changes to Google’s latest algorithm help users find more ‘mobile friendly’ content. Other recent releases Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird, all reward high quality, fresh content and improved user experience. An ethos I strongly support.

Knowledge Based Trust is yet another update that supports my belief that to build a strong positive reputation – an online presence updated with regular, quality content is and will continue to be key.

If you would like to find out more about how online reputation management can help you to promote you or your business online please contact me on +44 (0) 203 542 8689 or email simon@igniyte.co.uk.

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