Anchors, commentators, and even sociologists all agree on one thing: fake news is a growing phenomenon, and one with real-world consequences. In the span of a few months, it’s gone from being an obscure topic to one that Facebook and the other leading social media platforms have promised to fight directly.
The discussion about fake news is currently focusing on the social side of things. However, we expect it will have huge repercussions in the area of search engine optimization in the near future. After all, Google could be considered the world’s biggest library and news outlet all in one. Plus, the company’s directors have prioritized author tags, authority indicators, and topical relevance in past search algorithm updates.
It’s not a big reach, then, to expect fake news will change the art of search engine optimization forever. Below, we are going to make three predictions. They certainly aren’t ironclad now, but do represent rational outcomes that would follow the trends we are seeing now. Let’s take each of the three, one by one…
Citations Are Going to Mean More
Google already takes some notice of citations within articles and webpages. Specifically, the more verifiable information you have (especially if you’re trying to back up a big claim or controversial point), the easier it is for you to be a credible source of information. It’s not hard to imagine that Google will update its algorithm in the coming months to make these citations count for even more, especially if the outgoing links are pointed at trustworthy resources.
Some Content Producers Will be Trusted (and Others Won’t)
Speaking of trust, it’s easy to envision a scenario in which some content producers are going to enjoy a better reputation than others. Those that build up a track record of producing original, high-quality pieces of content that are shared and commented on will likely be given more leeway when it comes to attracting search engine traffic. On the other hand, content producers who are simply re-hashing old ideas or spouting unverifiable claims might discover that it’s tougher than ever to earn a top search engine spot.
We’ll See Companies and Websites Being Blacklisted on Google
The natural result of all of this, of course, is that some companies are going to be blacklisted from Google for spreading misinformation. In the same way that you could find yourself disappearing from the search rankings for overusing keywords or abusing inbound links, posting something that is proven to be false could cause the world’s largest search engine to give you the cold shoulder. It’s difficult to say how long it will take before this starts occurring, but you can bet marketers will begin paying more attention to the truth in their messaging shortly after.
Fake news, like link spamming or negative SEO, is just the latest example of people using the web the wrong way. And like those past incidents and abuses, you can bet it will result in a new set of rules for everybody.