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Fake News and Satire Websites – Is SEO Still Possible in 2017??

If you’ve read some of the more recent posts on this blog you probably know that I’ve worked with a few publishers. This isn’t my main niche but I have indeed broken some interesting news over the last several months:

Can you even optimize for Fake News?

Shortly after I contemplated Will Google Ban Fake News Content from Organic Search Results?, Google announced that they are now actively working against Fake News.

From the article:

Today, in a world where tens of thousands of pages are coming online every minute of every day, there are new ways that people try to game the system. The most high profile of these issues is the phenomenon of “fake news,” where content on the web has contributed to the spread of blatantly misleading, low quality, offensive or downright false information. While this problem is different from issues in the past, our goal remains the same—to provide people with access to relevant information from the most reliable sources available…

So… You can have a well optimized site and a million backlinks, but depending on the content, it may not rank well. If your content is misleading, expect it to perform poorly. If it were your search engine, you’d want it to perform poorly, too. If you have a satire site, it may be ok, however, not many people are searching Google for your articles, especially if they are a little far fetched, so you may need to rely on social traffic, which is tough.

Technical SEO problems

So I was recently hired to do a little consulting for a site with around 27,000 pages of questionable content. This site took a hit during the February 7, 2017 Google algorithm update. There was nothing horrible on there, like saying “essential oils cure AIDS”  or “there was no holocaust”, etc, but the site had some silly stuff on it which the audience enjoyed. I did discover many problems, many of which we were able to remedy fairly easily. Here are a couple of problems that were occurring:

  • Content scraping. A lot of sites were stealing the content! We were able to get a YouTube channel to stop. In other instances, we added more links to internal pages throughout the article, then, when people steal the content and pasted it onto their site, they were linking to the source site several times. I came up with other ideas for DMCA requests and how to force a host to take an entire domain down as well.
  • As placement. Ad placement can affect search placement when Google updates its “quality algorithm”. They ran this around February 7, 2017 and March 7, 2017. If you are a publisher who lost organic traffic on one of those dates, you likely have a “quality” issue. Vague? Yes. There are lots of quality issues a site can have, especially if it has thousands of pages, and ad placement is just one of those factors.
  • Original content issues. If you are curating content, and not producing enough original content, it can negatively impact your site.

Have you seen issues with Fake News websites?

Some Fake News is REALLY fake and shouldn’t be in search results at all. Content which Google describes as “blatantly misleading, low quality, offensive or downright false information” shouldn’t perform well – as time goes on, this type of content will likely perform worse and worse. If this affects a single page or an entire domain remains yet to be seen. It will be interesting to watch this evolve…

What do you think? Is google doing too much to “censorship” certain websites? Should websites that promote blatantly misleading information be completely banned from Google? Have you seen technical problems with news websites?

Len

President at Telapost
I create content and do SEO for law firms, small businesses and companies worldwide. I have been generating traffic online since 1992. I have owned multiple successful companies. I'm an organic eater, nature lover and German Shepherd owner. Feel free to contact me here.

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SEO, Content Marketing, and Social Media Strategy varies drastically depending on which vertical you are in, where you are located, and more. CONTACT ME 919.475.1883