14th March 2017
SEO and Fake News: Sharing and Not Caring
Many sites and individuals have manipulated users into clicking and sharing their manufactured content for personal gain. How does this relate to your website SEO and what will happen to those who abuse it?
“Alternative Facts” and “Fake News” get clicks. When you scroll through your Facebook feed, after you’ve laughed at the many, many cat videos and examined what the guy who sat three rows behind you, 6th form Biology, class of 2000 had for lunch on Tuesday (egg AND onion, what a combo) what is left to grab your already waning attention? Jeremy Corbyn’s latest speech about the train timetables, an informative article detailing the changes to parking regulations outside the local Primary School or the “revelation” that your guitar hero, Kurt Cobain predicted the rise of one DT to the oval office? Eugh, the first two have paragraphs and direct quotes, photographs and other journalistic stuff. The Cobain one is just a picture of him smoking a cigarette with a quote. I mean, he definitely must have said it, its written on the picture in that hideous, bold, solid outline font so its got to be true? Right?
And with that, the perpetrator has their share.
One of the many areas which can improve the ranking of your website is backlinks and shares. This should be achieved through high quality, relevant content written with the user in mind or eloquent, informative and engaging blog articles (hint, hint, cough *gestures towards screen*). The aim should always be to enhance your brand reputation, rely on the user, trust your clients as they will in turn translate their belief in your company into revenue and traffic. But with every honest endeavour which requires work, patience and knowledge there is always an alternative or “quick fix”. A shortcut to the traffic and shares you crave. Why bother with writing post after post, painstakingly researching, tirelessly learning and garnering the knowledge you can pass on to a wider audience when you could just make something up.
The end goal of all advertising is to engage the potential client and if you can do so through dishonest means well there are plenty of people out there who will jump on this particular bandwagon. I am of course not trying to claim that the only agenda behind “Fake News” is to improve search results, there are obviously many sites and individuals out there with much more sinister aims but it is to be assumed that eventually these sites will be penalised for spreading salacious content and it will ultimately result in a negative effect to search rankings.
Basically the point is be trustworthy. A recent article in the guardian by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, when talking about misinformation on the internet he says,
“Today, most people find news and information on the web through just a handful of social media sites and search engines. These sites make more money when we click on the links they show us. And they choose what to show us based on algorithms that learn from our personal data that they are constantly harvesting. The net result is that these sites show us content they think we’ll click on – meaning that misinformation, or fake news, which is surprising, shocking, or designed to appeal to our biases, can spread like wildfire. And through the use of data science and armies of bots, those with bad intentions can game the system to spread misinformation for financial or political gain.”
When the Daddy of the internet sees it all grown up he doesn’t want his child being led astray by the rough boys from the next street over. The clicks and shares on these stories give them credence but eventually that short-term gain will be punished with long term loss. In conclusion, be honest with your content, have faith in your brand and be prepared to put in the time and gain the trust and respect your company needs to reach its potential. And never trust anything with an ugly font.
Improving the SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) on your website or following SEO best practices are the cornerstone of driving traffic to your website. Every business owner with an online presence does it because it is the most important facet of your advertising on the worldwide web. The principles and techniques behind good SEO are many and your web developer will always guide you through the process and help you keep as far ahead as possible. When best practices are followed the results will translate into a high search rank and in turn should drive sales, clients and visitors to your website.
Further reading on this topic from The Drum: Why Fake News is a Bigger Problem for Google than Facebook