Google changes search algorithms to fight clickbait

Google’s search product displayed on a tablet. (Stock image via Pexels, graphic by The Desk)

Google says it’s rolling out an update to its search engine that should help users avoid clickbaits designed to trick its system.

The update comes as many online publishers are using search engine optimization, or SEO, techniques to help their individual articles rank higher in Google’s search results. The residual traffic from this practice has been proven to lead to increased sales on a website, but often came at the expense of frustrating users who were often presented with a web page that looked nothing like what they were looking for. were waiting.

“Many of us have experienced the frustration of visiting a web page that appears to have what we are looking for, but does not meet our expectations,” said Google spokesman Danny Sullivan. wrote last week. “Content may not have the information you want, or it may not even appear to have been created for, or even by, a person.”

Sullivan said Google has received feedback from users that content designed to mess with its search engine isn’t helpful when those web pages are “designed to attract clicks rather than inform readers.” To combat this, Google says it is changing the way its search engine delivers results to users, with an emphasis on finding original, unique content that is useful. This comes several months after Google changed its product review offering to rely on content developed by people with specific expertise in an area like technology.

“Together, these launches are part of a larger ongoing effort to reduce low-quality content and make it easier to find content that feels authentic and useful in [Google] Research,” Sullivan said.

In the streaming media space, search tweaks could help drive more visitors to websites like The pulpit, fierce video and TechHive, who produce original stories that incorporate extensive research and analysis. This could prove problematic for marketing blogs like The Broadcast and Cord Cutters News, which have used SEO spamming practices in the past with “How to Watch [program] without cable for free on [platform]as part of a larger business strategy to convert readers into paying customers of the streaming services they sell.

Marketing blogs aren’t the only ones who have used SEO tactics to try to fool Google’s search engine: news publishers, including newspapers and TV stations, have also used SEO to drive more traffic to their websites and products in an effort to generate more ad revenue.

Unlike marketing blogs, news outlets are more likely to bounce back from the adverse effects of any changes Google makes to its search engine results. Earlier this year, Toronto Star columnist Navneet Alang wrote that news publishers tend to react to changes made by Google and others by simply modifying their own output to match them.

“It’s kind of a vicious cycle,” Alang said. “Google is relentlessly refining search to try to predict what people want, but in response, entire industries are working to pollute search results by giving people a cheap, counterfeit version of what they want. “

While it may seem like a lost cause, Google has a real reason for making ongoing changes to its search algorithm: Last month, reports surfaced that an internal survey conducted by Google showed younger users were searching for more and more stuff on TikTok instead of its Search Results. Last year, TikTok overtook Google as the most visited domain, ending Google’s two-decade reign as internet king.

Another part of the study showed that many seniors search for products and services on Amazon first. Google said both trends indicate that the user wants a visually-rich search experience that values ​​uniqueness and utility over anything else. The changes announced to its search engine earlier this month certainly seem to indicate that Google is open to receiving and responding to this type of feedback.

Sharon D. Cole