Google’s search algorithm has been changed over the last year to increasingly reward search results based on how likely you are to click on them, multiple sources tell Business Insider.
As a result, fake news now often outranks accurate reports on higher quality websites.
There is a common misconception that the proliferation of fake news is all Facebook’s fault. Although Facebook does have a fake news problem, Google’s ranking algorithm does not take cues from social shares, likes, or comments when it is determining which result is the most relevant, search experts tell Business Insider. The changes at Google took place separately, experts say, to the fake news problem occurring on Facebook.
The changes to the algorithm now move links up Google’s search results page if Google detects that more people are clicking on them, search experts tell Business Insider.
Joost De Valk, founder of Yoast, a search consultancy that has worked for The Guardian, told Business Insider: “All SEOs [search engine optimisation experts] agree that they include relative click-through rate (CTR) from the search results in their ranking patterns. For a given 10 results page, they would expect a certain CTR for position five, for instance. If you get more clicks than they’d expect, thus a higher CTR, they’ll usually give you a higher ranking and see if you still outperform the other ones,”
Search marketing consultant Rishi Lakhani said: “Though Google doesn’t like to admit it, it does use CTR (click through rate) as a factor. Various tests I and my contemporaries have run indicate that. The hotter the subject line the better the clicks, right?”
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