Google has been considering a new search ranking algorithm that factors in trustworthiness, according to a report released by the company this past winter. This concept was recently fleshed out in a June 30 column on Forbes.com by contributor Daniel Newman.
From an internet defamation and defamation removal perspective, this potential new way of Google ranking content makes for an interesting discussion. Certainly at first glance, implementing a search ranking algorithm that factors in truth and accuracy would seem to be a welcome move for businesses and professionals being harmed online.
It is no secret that there is an abundance of false and misleading information on the internet. This certainly includes the increasing amount of harmful content that bad actors are creating and publishing with the express goal of harming particular people or entities – well-documented on the Internet Defamation Removal Attorneys blog.
When it comes to false and defamatory content, little harm will occur if the public at large cannot easily find it. However, false and defamatory statements can and often do rank highly in search results, including on Google, and the resulting reputational harm can be significant and oftentimes irreparable.
As previously discussed, Ripoff Report – for example – has a high domain authority, meaning the individual postings from the website tend to rank highly in search results. For many businesses and professionals, false and inaccurate Ripoff Report complaints rank among theor top few search results, right up there with official company websites, social media accounts and profiles, and other legitimate information. Naturally, this can provide credibility and legitimacy to a false report.
Thus, when the average Internet user (who might be a prospective customer/client or business partner, for example) researches a particular party and stumbles upon high-ranking false content, all it takes is just a few seconds for them to form a false impression based on the inaccurate information. After all, studies have shown that consumers are increasingly trusting the information found in search results.
Accordingly, many companies and professionals that have been victimized by false content on the internet — including defamatory websites — are losing business daily. Therefore, if Google does perfect and opts to roll out an algorithm that favors websites with more trustworthy information and data, parties negatively affected by false and inaccurate content should benefit.
Given the ease with which disgruntled parties and other bad actors can spread damaging content on the internet today, this looks to be a step in the right direction as far as limiting the effects of such behavior and protecting businesses and individuals.