Google has just announced some major changes in its search results to fight the fake news and disturbing material that may be offensive for some people. After knowing the weaknesses in its searches, Google has made some necessary changes. In Project Owl, Google has tried to solve the issues with specific actions. As Google wrote in a post:
“With longer-term effort in mind, today, we are taking the next step toward continuing to surface more high-quality content from the web. This includes improvements in Search ranking, easier ways for people to provide direct feedback and greater transparency around how Search works.”
There are some main highlights of ‘Project Owl’ are:
- a new feedback form for search suggestions, plus formal policies about why suggestions might be removed.
- a new feedback form for “Featured Snippets” answers.
- a new emphasis on authoritative content to improve search quality.
Why is Google making changes?
Today, in a world where tens of thousands of pages are coming online every minute of every day, there are new ways that people try to game the system. The most high profile of these issues is the phenomenon of “fake news,” where content on the web has contributed to the spread of blatantly misleading, low quality, offensive or downright false information.
Needless to say this got a lot of negative media attention. Even though Google does not like interfering with its algorithms—which are supposed to find the most helpful answers to a given topic—the problem became big enough Google decided to take action.
What are the changes in Google Search feature?
The first and biggest change that the company did with ‘Project owl’ was with Google’s auto-complete function where the search engine suggests options to complete your query.
For better search results, Google has incorporated a way by which users can tell about the objectionable content they encounter. This tool comes with a little line that says ‘report inappropriate predictions’. If the users click on it, it will let users tell Google that which content is offensive or inappropriate.
If a user clicks on the line, a box pops up that lets the user tell Google that the predictions are hateful or violent and so on. The other way is telling that if the information boxes contain inaccurate information, users can inform the google to respond whether the information was helpful or they have some problem with it.
The another big change coming to Google is the search engine will start giving more weight to “more authoritative” information. Here is a screenshot the tool in action for when someone asks “why is the sky blue.”
Predictions can be reported as hateful, sexually explicit, violent or including dangerous and harmful activity, plus a catch-all “Other” category. Google stressed that it hopes the feedback will be most useful so that it can make algorithmic changes that improve all search suggestions, rather than a piecemeal approach that deals with problematic suggestions on an individual basis.
Improving ‘Featured Snippets’ answers
Moreover, Google is also making ways to improve its search quality in order to attack problematic Featured Snippets. Improved search quality will help Google show more authoritative content for more obscure and infrequent queries. This could be a big change that may eventually better search results than ever.
These proposed changes are the improvised version of the existing one and introduced to make users aware about their helpfulness. Google hopes that they could bring down the peril of fake news and disturbing content. This hopefully will work to solve Google’s search quality issues in this area.
And few more words…
One thing to watch is which websites will be the winners and losers in all these changes. As Google is so big and its search results are such an important source of traffic, so its algorithm changes can bring about a huge change for certain sites. In the case of one of Google’s last major updates, known as Panda, many websites discovered they had been downgraded unexpectedly—causing them to lose readers and audience dollars. Watch to see if this happens again with Project Owl.