Google is also setting new rules encouraging its "raters" - the 10,000-plus staff that assess search results - to flag web pages that host hoaxes, conspiracy theories and what the company calls "low-quality" content.
Ensuring that fake news doesn't surface in search requires "more structural" changes to the way search works, including tweaks to the algorithm that determines which search results appear on top, Google said in a blog post announcing the changes Tuesday.
Google is even going to give users more power to spot and report sketchy content. Users can click on the feedback link to provide feedback about a particular autocomplete suggestion or Featured Snippet that they believe is sketchy. Some back-of-the-envelope math suggests that users could be seeing as many as 7.5 million misleading results every day. Google's had some problems in the past with sites manipulating how they appear on results. As Search Engine Land founding editor Danny Sullivan wrote recently, search results may not actually be any worse than they used to be, but people increasingly see them as problematic.
Google will also update its "Search Quality Rate Guidelines", which are used by human evaluators of Google's search engine results. However, if you searched using one of Google's voice assistant or smart home products and a snippet was returned, the context of the other results on a web page is missing and the service would read the snippet aloud as if that was the one true answer.
'Search can always be improved, ' Google Search's engineering vice president Ben Gomes said.
Google is seeking to be more transparent about its search practices, as well, and how its algorithms can deliver outlandish results. Google tweaked autocomplete suggestions a year ago, shortly after it became aware of the problem so things like this wouldn't happen.
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"I'm not ready to say he's 100 percent, so as long he's not 100 percent, we've got to be cautious and make the right decision".
Google also has reprogrammed a popular feature to omit derogatory suggestions from its automated recommendations of search requests. "This can sometimes lead to results that are unexpected, inaccurate or offensive".
To fight the fake news problem, Google is asking for feedback from users.
Google's second tool "Ranking Changes" is for ranking pages on content. As such, Google promises it will get better at filtering out fake news in weeks and months to come.
As for feedback, Google is now making it easier for individual users to offer up feedback about offensive or inaccurate content appearing in its Autocomplete and Featured Snippets features.
Gomes added an interesting fact at the end.