Semalt Expert Explains Google's Reaction To Misinformation

Imagine your friends in a bar telling you that someone you find attractive was checking you out, only for you to approach the person and notice that you have been lied to. Best believe many of us have been in that situation, and it isn't always funny. 

When dealing with websites, it is important to understand how google reacts to misinformation. Will google that a misleading website the same way it will treat a spammy website? We have Google's Danny Sullivan to help answer this question. In the SEO community, there was a rising concern that misleading information in medical search results had harmful consequences to users, which is similar to what spammy content does. If this is true, our concern is why doesn't Google penalize misinformative sites with the same force and intolerance that it uses when punishing spammy websites. Danny Sullivan was more than willing to shed some light on the subject matter. 

Should Misleading information be treated as spam content? 

One of the reasons why google goes full throttle on spam websites is because of its poor user experience. Since misinformation has almost the same effect, it isn't out of proportion to link misinformation and spam contents. Surprisingly, google also links misleading information with spam.

Does google interpret misleading content as spam?

Google considers misleading content as spam because it also harms its user's experience. 

Google's webmaster tool explains that a rich result may be considered spam if it negatively influences the user experience by highlighting misleading or falsified information. For example, having a website with falsified reviews would be considered spam by Google. Any website that claims to offer "this" but when clicked, users discover that it offers "that," is considered spam according to Google's guidelines.

Is there any difference between misleading information and misinformation

Some may argue that there is a difference between misinformation and misleading information, but to clarify, we will be relying on the definition gotten from Mariam-Webster Definitions. 

Misleading: to lead in the wrong direction, or it can be considered as a mistaken action or belief often deliberately. It also means to give a wrong impression and to lead astray. 

Misinformation: a piece of incorrect or misleading information.  

Regardless of your opinion that there may be a difference between these two, in the end, they both have the same result. They leave your website with unfulfilled users as well as a bad user experience. 

Googles algorithm designed to fulfill information needs

Google's documentation on their ranking updates defines that the purpose of this update is to fulfill user's information needs. They want to send searchers to a website they will find interesting hence ensuring that every user has a great user experience. 

The goal of many of Google's ranking changes is to ensure that their searchers find sites that provide excellent user experience and sites to help them fulfill their information needs. 

Sites that provide a great user experience are sites that provide accurate data. This means that once you begin to manipulate the authenticity of the information on your site, you begin to influence the user experience of your site. 

Have you ever heard the word "egregious?" if you haven't, it means shockingly bad. It is an accurate word to describe a website that's packed full of misleading information, especially for sensitive medical-related search queries. 

So why isn't Google tracking these sites the same way it tracks down spam sites if it knows they provide a poor user experience? Since misleading information is as bad or worse than spam, why isn't google punishing these sites equally? After all, they have similar consequences. 

Google's response to misinformation on SERP

Danny Sullivan insists that Google isn't turning a blind eye to sites that provide misleading information. He goes further to assure SEO experts as well as all others who care to know that Google is committed to showing only useful information in its SERPs.

He explains that because something is indexed is different from when something is ranked. Google invests a huge amount of resources in ensuring that they return useful and authoritative information in the ranking. However, in the end, Google's system is still the same. Google's algorithm looks to reward the quality of websites. If a website publishes misleading information, they do not get rewarded because they won't rank well. 

If a website attempts to artificially boost its relevance, they do not get rewarded because they get a manual action and don't rank well. What is most important to Google is that you protect your audience. Providing quality and accurate information comes before chasing link buyers. 

Does Google think your website is spam or misleading?

You may not have known the effects of having spam content or misleading information on your site until you came across this article. So yeah, spam sucks. Is your website experience now dwell rates? Are you sure that your poor conversion rate is a result of your bad website, or is it because your website is spam? 

You must understand that having a poor website can be a mistake, while having a spam website is absolutely deliberate. Chances are you do not know how to build or design a website, so you hired someone who claimed to be an SEO expert to get it done. You probably had to pay some little amount, and you thought you had landed the deal of a century only to realize that your "expert" was a scam. 

Now you are faced with a problem you do not know how to solve. All you do know is that Google hates spam, and you are beginning to think that your website is seen as a scam. Well, here are some quick pointers we use to identify and correct spammy websites.

Qualities of spam or misinformative website

  • They rarely use social media:  

If a website is designed to spam others, their end goal is to improve only their ranking on SERP. A spam website isn't looking to build a relationship with people, so they rarely have any social media presence. So if you want to show that your website is genuine, consider building a strong social media presence. And that is just one of the many benefits of having a social media account for your website. 

  • They over optimize

Google will consider website spam if it over optimizes its keywords. Since all that spam websites care about is ranking, they often overuse keywords. Many times, they use these keywords randomly, and they won't end up making any sense. You will discover that the keywords appear unnaturally word afterword. 

  • Lack of quality content

Spammers do not care about delivering quality content. In fact, most of the content on such websites is not original. You will find that most of the content used have been stolen from other legitimate websites. 

  • Having too many ads

Spammers have the trait of creating webpages with up to 50% of the contents on that page being ads. Remember that spammers are only interested in clicks and getting more money. So, they spend more time featuring ads on their site rather than creating content that actually matters.

Many times, websites may decide to use misleading information because they consider optimizing for SEO more valuable than optimizing their website for user experience. 

How do we ensure that your website is neither spammy nor misleading?

At Semalt, we aim for consistency and quality in our content / websites. This way, we ensure that we deliver a clear value proposition and pay absolute attention to details. We create content with an ideology that they aren't mere words. Our pictures, texts, review, and comments all pass important messages that develop a brand and sell products. We ensure that every detail that gets featured on every webpage is innovative, unique, inspiring, and factual. In the end, everyone who comes across our content is compelled that indeed we provide the information they need. 

Sometimes, spammy or misleading information can be influenced based on the audience type. For example, an SEO expert hopes to learn on NLP, but instead of seeing how NLP works on a search engine, SERP displays the result on NLP for athletes. Now the search user may consider the website to be misleading while, in reality, it simply isn't the website he or she wants. So it is important that we base our optimization efforts on what's best for our target audience.  


It is uncertain whether Google's algorithms are doing what is required in surfacing high-quality information in SERPs. However, if you are worried about how Google treats misinformation, you have every right to be. That is because SEO experts around the world hope that Google elevates how it treats misinformation. This is of particular interest to special industries such as medicine or other very sensitive niches. Having misinformation on websites move freely causes as much damage as spam content. 

Semalt is here to serve you better. As a new website, we can take care of your content creation so that you never have to deal with misleading content on your site. In addition, we can also help the website that has already published misleading content.

Give us a call today.

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