While Google’s mission has at all times been to floor high-quality content material, over the previous few years the corporate has labored particularly exhausting to make sure that its search outcomes are additionally persistently correct, credible, and reliable.
Reducing false and deceptive data has been a high precedence for Google since issues over misinformation surfaced throughout the 2016 US presidential election. The search large is investing large sums of cash and mind energy into organizing the ever-increasing quantities of content material on the internet in a manner that prioritizes accuracy and credibility.
In a 30-page whitepaper revealed final yr, Google delineates particularly the way it fights towards unhealthy actors and misinformation throughout Google Search, News, Youtube, Ads, and different Google merchandise.
In this whitepaper, Google explains how Knowledge Panels — a standard natural search function — are a part of its initiative to point out “context and diversity of perspectives to form their own views.” With Knowledge Panel outcomes, Google offers solutions to queries with content material displayed straight in its natural search outcomes (typically with out together with a hyperlink to a corresponding natural consequence), probably eliminating the necessity for customers to click on via to an internet site to seek out a solution to their question. While this function advantages customers by answering their questions much more rapidly, it brings with it the hazard of offering fast solutions that could be deceptive or incorrect.
Another function with this problem is Featured Snippets, the place Google pulls web site content material straight into the search outcomes. Google maintains particular insurance policies for Featured Snippets, prohibiting the show of content material that’s sexually specific, hateful, violent, harmful, or in violation of knowledgeable consensus on civic, medical, scientific, or historic subjects. However, this doesn’t imply the content material included in Featured Snippets is at all times solely correct.
According to information pulled by Dr. Pete Meyers, based mostly on a pattern set of 10,000 key phrases, Google has elevated the frequency with which it shows Featured Snippets as a part of the search outcomes. In the start of 2018, Google displayed Featured Snippets in roughly 12% of search outcomes; in early 2020, that quantity hovers round 16%.
Google has additionally rolled out a number of core algorithm updates up to now two years, with the said purpose of “delivering on [their] mission to present relevant and authoritative content to searchers.” What makes these latest algorithm updates notably fascinating is how a lot E-A-T (experience, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness) seems to be enjoying a job in web site efficiency, notably for YMYL (your cash, your life) web sites.
As a results of Google’s dedication to combating misinformation and pretend information, we may moderately anticipate searchers to agree that Google has improved in its capacity to floor credible and trusted content material. But does the common searcher truly really feel that manner? At Path Interactive, we performed a survey to learn the way customers really feel in regards to the data they encounter in Google’s natural outcomes.
About our survey respondents and methodology
Out of 1,100 respondents, 70% of stay within the United States, 21% in India, and 5% in Europe. 63% of respondents are between the ages of 18 and 35, and 17% are over the age of 46. All respondent information is self-reported.
For all questions involving particular search outcomes or sorts of SERP options, respondents have been supplied with screenshots of these options. For questions associated to ranges of trustworthiness or the extent to which the respondent agreed with the assertion, respondents have been introduced with solutions on a scale of 1-5.
Trustworthiness within the medical, political, monetary, and authorized classes
Given how a lot fluctuation we’ve seen within the YMYL class of Google with latest algorithm updates, we thought it could be fascinating to ask respondents how a lot they belief the medical, political, monetary, and authorized data they discover on Google.
We began by asking respondents in regards to the extent to which they’ve made vital monetary, authorized, or medical choices based mostly on data they present in natural search. The majority (51%) of respondents indicated that they “very frequently” or “often” make vital life choices based mostly on Google data, whereas 39% make vital authorized choices, and 46% make vital medical choices. Only 10-13% of respondents indicated that they by no means make a lot of these vital life choices based mostly on the data they’ve discovered on Google.
As it pertains to medical searches, 72% of customers agree or strongly agree that Google has improved at displaying correct medical outcomes over time.
Breaking down these responses by age, a couple of fascinating patterns emerge:
- The youngest searchers (ages 18-25) are 94% extra probably than the oldest searchers (65+) to strongly consider that Google’s medical outcomes have improved over time.
- 75% of the youngest searchers (ages 18-25) agree or strongly agree that Google has improved in displaying correct medical searches over time, whereas solely 54% of the oldest searchers (65+) really feel the identical manner.
- Searchers ages 46-64 are the probably to disagree that Google’s medical outcomes are bettering over time.
Next, we needed to know if Google’s emphasis on surfacing medical content material from trusted medical publications — comparable to WebMD and the Mayo Clinic — is resonating with its customers. One end result of latest core algorithm updates is that Google’s algorithms seem like deprioritizing content material that contradicts scientific and medical consensus (persistently described as a adverse high quality indicator all through their Search Quality Guidelines).
The majority (66%) of respondents agree that it is rather vital to them that Google surfaces content material from extremely trusted medical web sites. However, 14% indicated they’d quite not see these outcomes, and one other 14% indicated they’d quite see extra numerous outcomes, comparable to content material from pure drugs web sites. These numbers counsel that greater than 1 / 4 of respondents could also be unhappy with Google’s present well being initiatives aimed toward surfacing medical content material from a set of acclaimed companions who assist the scientific consensus.
We requested survey respondents about Symptom Cards, wherein data associated to medical signs or particular medical circumstances is surfaced straight throughout the search outcomes.
Examples of Symptom Cards. Source: https://blog.google/products/search/im-feeling-yucky-searching-for-symptoms/
Our query aimed to collect how a lot searchers felt the content material inside Symptom Cards might be trusted.
The overwhelming majority (76%) of respondents indicated they belief or strongly belief the content material inside Symptom Cards.
When trying on the responses by age, youthful searchers as soon as once more reveal that they’re much extra probably than older searchers to strongly belief the medical content material discovered inside Google. In truth, the youngest bracket of searchers (ages 18-25) are 138% extra probably than the oldest searchers (65+) to strongly belief the medical content material present in Symptom Cards.
News and political searches
The majority of respondents (61%) agree or strongly agree that Google has improved at displaying high-quality, reliable information and political content material over time. Only 13% disagree or strongly disagree with this assertion.
Breaking the identical query down by age reveals fascinating tendencies:
- The majority (67%) of the youngest searchers (ages 18-25) agree that the standard of Google’s information and political content material has improved over time, whereas the bulk (61%) of the oldest age group (65+) solely considerably agrees or disagrees.
- The youngest searchers (ages 18-25) are 250% extra probably than the oldest searchers to strongly agree that the standard of reports and political content material on Google is bettering over time.
Given Google’s emphasis on combating misinformation in its search outcomes, we additionally needed to ask respondents in regards to the extent to which they really feel they nonetheless encounter harmful or extremely untrustworthy data on Google.
Interestingly, the overwhelming majority of respondents (70%) really feel that they’ve encountered misinformation on Google at the least typically, though 29% point out they not often or by no means see misinformation within the outcomes.
Segmenting the responses by age teams reveals a transparent sample that the older the searcher, the extra probably they’re to point that they’ve seen misinformation in Google’s search outcomes. In truth, the oldest searchers (65+) are 138% extra probably than the youngest searchers (18-25) to say they’ve encountered misinformation on Google both typically or very steadily.
Throughout the responses to all questions associated to YMYL subjects comparable to well being, politics, and information, a constant sample emerged that the youngest searchers seem to have extra belief within the content material Google shows for these queries, and that older searchers are extra skeptical.
This aligns with our findings from an identical survey we performed final yr, which discovered that youthful searchers have been extra prone to take a lot of the content material displayed straight within the SERP at face worth, whereas older searchers have been extra prone to browse deeper into the natural outcomes to seek out solutions to their queries.
This data is alarming, particularly given one other query we posed asking in regards to the extent to which searchers consider the data they discover on Google influences their political beliefs and outlook on the world.
The query revealed some fascinating tendencies associated to the oldest searchers: based on the outcomes, the oldest searchers (65+) are 450% extra probably than the youngest searchers to strongly disagree that data they discover on Google influences their worldview.
However, the oldest searchers are additionally probably to agree with this assertion; 11% of respondents ages 65+ strongly agree that Google data influences their worldview. On each ends of the spectrum, the oldest searchers seem to carry stronger opinions in regards to the extent to which Google influences their political beliefs and outlook than respondents from different age brackets.
Featured Snippets and the Knowledge Graph
We additionally needed to grasp the extent to which respondents discovered the content material contained inside Featured Snippets to be reliable, and to section these responses by age brackets. As with the opposite scale-based questions, respondents have been requested to point how a lot they trusted these options on a scale of 1-5 (Likert scale).
According to the outcomes, the youngest searchers (ages 18-25) are 100% extra probably than the oldest searchers (ages 65+) to seek out the content material inside Featured Snippets to be very reliable. This aligns with an identical discovery we present in our survey from final yr: “The youngest searchers (13–18) are 220 percent more likely than the oldest searchers (70–100) to consider their question answered without clicking on the snippet (or any) result.”
For Knowledge Graph outcomes, the outcomes are much less conclusive when segmented by age. 95% of respondents throughout all age teams discover the Knowledge Panel outcomes to be at the least “trustworthy.”
Conclusion: Young customers belief search outcomes greater than older customers
In basic, nearly all of survey respondents seem to belief the data they discover on Google — each when it comes to the outcomes themselves, in addition to the content material they discover inside SERP options such because the Knowledge Panel and Featured Snippets. However, there nonetheless seems to be a small subset of searchers who’re dissatisfied with Google’s outcomes. This subset consists of largely older searchers who seem like extra skeptical about taking Google’s data at face worth, particularly for YMYL queries.
Across nearly all survey questions, there’s a clear sample that the youngest searchers are inclined to belief the data they discover on Google extra so than the older respondents. This aligns with an identical survey we performed final yr, which indicated that youthful searchers have been extra prone to settle for the content material in Featured Snippets and Knowledge Panels without having to click on on further outcomes on Google.
It is unclear whether or not youthful searchers belief data from Google extra as a result of the data itself has improved, or as a result of they’re usually extra trusting of knowledge they discover on-line. These outcomes may additionally be as a consequence of older searchers not having grown up with the flexibility to depend on web serps to reply their questions. Either manner, the outcomes elevate an fascinating query about the way forward for data on-line: will searchers grow to be much less skeptical of on-line data over time?