March 9, 2015

Liar, Liar, Ranks on Fire! How Truth Affects Google Search Rankings

Photo via CNN.com



























By Justin H.

Have you ever felt like the Internet is a little too much like high school? Search engines have undoubtedly always had their favorite websites, but Google is putting its foot down. No longer will those bullies be able to coast on good looks and popularity, while the smart, quiet types get pushed around!


Instead of continuing to rank websites based on backlinks, the amount of time users spend on them, or even social media prowess, Google wants to go back to the basics: cold, hard facts.
Although still in its developmental stages, Google is considering a massive change in how it ranks websites. According to RT.com, they want to shift towards truthfulness, as opposed to ranking higher due to the aforementioned factors.

A report was just released detailing search results based upon how factual websites are. This is the foundation on which Google plans to build its new search ranking methods. Since sites currently rank based upon how often a page gets linked to, it is readily apparent that fake or false information has had an easier time ascending up the ranks.

RT.com also pointed out how trust scores would be comprised using a “Knowledge Vault,” which will serve as a database of universally understood facts. The vault currently contains 2.8 billion Google “facts.” Any weak information, contradictory statements, or flat-out lies will now begin to negatively impact a site’s search ranking.

Fears


The fallout of Google implementing these methods would be interesting and uncertain. Would freedom of speech be affected? Could this can of worms give less value to public opinions?

Fox News fears that this could be the “first step towards Google playing God” by censoring anything it doesn’t like. They also pointed out how Google has taken its own firm stances on controversial topics such as immigration reform and climate change. Could this lead them to suppress sites and message boards that do not agree with their beliefs?

It could also be an issue that the Knowledge Vault will be something also entirely made up by Google. Granted they are one of the largest and most successful companies in the world, but no single group can be omniscient, even if it does know 2.8 billion facts.

The Verdict


On the positive side, Google could be onto something here. Their vast knowledge could be used alongside others to beat down propaganda and other false info. Keep in mind that this knowledge vault and truthfulness rankings are still very much in their fetal stages, but are nonetheless fascinating.

As long as Google doesn’t use this Knowledge Vault to stand on top of the Empire State Building and pound its chest in fact-hoarding triumph, it could certainly do some good. Drastic change is sure to scare many people, but if the search engine giant figures out a way to reward truthfulness without compromising integrity and freedom of speech, they could revolutionize the process of search rankings for the better.


Does Google have something substantial here, or are they simply on a power trip? Would you prefer sites to be ranked on truthfulness? Let us know in the comment section below!

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