Content accuracy has always been a point of contention among SEO experts, webmasters and content strategists. While some firmly believe that content accuracy plays a role in determining page rankings, others are on the opposite side of the camp, stating that accuracy is not a ranking factor.
Recently, this debate cropped up again on Twitter. Danny Sullivan, a veteran journalist who founded Search Engine Land and later joined Alphabet in 2017 as a public liaison for search, was posed this query.
One of Sullivan’s Twitter followers asked him the following question, “How does Google handle content accuracy?” In response, Sullivan tweeted from his personal account saying that Google’s machines are not yet sophisticated to identify the accuracy of the content. Rather, their machines and algorithms rely on signals for topic relevance and authority, to decide the ranking of the content.
Here’s the Twitter reply from Danny Sullivan:
Image via Twitter
Content Authority not be confused with Popularity
In continuation with the conversation on Twitter, Sullivan was further asked whether content authority meant content popularity. He responded, saying that content authority should not be mistaken for popularity, as popularity will have no place for new queries that constitute nearly 15% of Google’s daily search volume. Also, content popularity is too simple a signal, and Google doesn’t rely on it to rank web pages.
The Emphasis on Content Authority by Google
In April 2017, Google announced the launch of Project Owl to improve the quality of search results. This project stressed more on authoritative content that enjoyed better ranking. Additionally, this project allowed users to send their feedback to Google regarding its auto-complete search suggestions and the featured snipped answers that were listed on the first page of search engine rankings.
This was Google’s first step to combat the spread of fake news and misinformation on the internet. In November of 2017, Google, along with Facebook, Twitter, and Bing, agreed to use the trust indicators of The Trust Project to aid the prevention of spreading of misinformation and fake news.
Earlier this month, Google updated its Search Quality Rater Guidelines with an aim to vet out news sources as well as creators of YMYL (Your Money Your Life) content. These guidelines have been modified to allow raters to provide content that has the potential to spread hate, the lowest ratings.
The Debate Continues on Twitter
Sullivan’s reply sparked plenty of replies with some users disagreeing with his answer and some agreeing to it. Some stated that today, machine learning tools could assign levels of accuracy to content. Machine learning can assess the accuracy of almost all content that doesn’t relate to personal experience.
However, others thanked Sullivan for clarifying the issue that content accuracy is not a ranking factor as of now.
What’s the Takeaway?
There’s no doubt that content accuracy plays a crucial role in determining its impact on the end-user. However, content accuracy is not one of the top Google ranking factors. Page authority and relevance are likely the top two signals that Google’s algorithms use to rank content.