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Google’s newest algorithm change is all set to improve the quality of search results by hitting problematic content and fake news hard. Although the search engine giant states that the name Project Owl is completely random, the idea behind the owl is that it’s the symbol of wisdom and bringing wisdom back into online searches looks wholly appropriate.

Project Owl is also an important venture in terms of organic search engine optimization.

In Google’s own words, here’s what they had to say:

“It’s become very apparent that a small set of queries in our daily traffic (around 0.25 percent), have been returning offensive or clearly misleading content, which is not what people are looking for. To help prevent the spread of such content for this subset of queries, we’ve improved our evaluation methods and made algorithmic updates to surface more authoritative content.”

On the 25th of April, Google announced its latest quality enhancement for search- some major changes created to combat fake news and hate speech that has been polluting the search results lately. This update gives users new ways to report problems in search results.

The new update sees the launch of:

  • Official policies outlining why suggestions could be removed
  • A new feedback form for search suggestions from users
  • An emphasis on authoritative content to perk up the quality of search results
  • A new feedback form for ‘Featured Snippets’ answers

Why Google is making changes to its algorithm

Google has lately been under a lot of fire for search results which link back to fake news. Usually it’s content where people completely make things up involving myths, rumors and conspiracies. Some content even includes offensive or shocking information and this posed a new content dilemma for Google.

Because of this, Google received a lot of negative media attention and it turned into a dreaded public relations nightmare that Google decided to take drastic action. And this is the first time Google has published reasons why something might be removed. These procedures focus on non-legal reasons why Google may do away with suggestions.

The new ways in which users can report problems

Auto complete

Google’s auto compete feature has seen the biggest changes. This is where Google puts forward options to complete your query as your type in the search box.

With the recent update, there is now a way to tell Google if you see something you don’t like. The tool comes with a little line which says ‘report inappropriate predictions’. When the link is clicked, a box will appear that lets you tell Google if the suggestions are hateful, violent, sexually explicit or anything including harmful or dangerous activity as well as an ‘other’ category with a comment box.

Featured Snippets

Users can also report problems through information boxes that Google supplies on its main page.

When does the new Project Owl update come into effect?

The changes will be introduced gradually but users should be able to see them now.

How does Google come to a decision on what is ‘authoritative’?

For a number of months now Google has been paying human ‘raters’ to review and improve their search results. While these raters can’t change the search results directly, their reports help train algorithms to get rid of fake news.

What does the Project Owl update mean for organic search?

The new algorithm update is all set to improve Google users’ browsing experience. The main aim of the update seems to be able to show more trustworthy pages and relegate low-quality content. The update will also see an upgrade in featured snippet answers as well, which are used within Google Assistant for voice search too.

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