A high-profile and sensitive subject like COVID-19 has warranted an extensive response from Google to improve the access and quality of information for prevention efforts. The COVID response reflects other changes that Google has implemented to improve access to factual and high-quality information for all search engine users, which emphasizes the need for accurate and useful SEO content.
COVID Summary and Google Search Updates
The coronavirus or COVID-19 is one of the most pressing international health crises in recent memory. News of widespread contagion from Wuhan, China has followed with extensive prevention guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization (WHO). Locally, schools (both primary and secondary/university institutions) and businesses have announced indefinite closures to protect citizens from a potential outbreak.
A high-profile and sensitive subject like COVID-19 has led the search engine giant to make significant changes including setting up an incident response team that provides 24-hour updates from the WHO. Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Google and Alphabet, explained that search engine users will expect to see featured SOS messages, direct YouTube users to WHO, and protect users from extensive misinformation about the virus. Per Pichai:
Our Trust and Safety team has been working around the clock and across the globe to safeguard our users from phishing, conspiracy theories, malware and misinformation, and we are constantly on the lookout for new threats,” Pichai said. “On YouTube, we are working to quickly remove any content that claims to prevent the coronavirus in place of seeking medical treatment. On Google Ads we are blocking all ads capitalizing on the coronavirus, and we’ve blocked tens of thousands of ads over the last six weeks. We are also helping WHO and government organizations run PSA ads. Google Play also prohibits developers from capitalizing on sensitive events, and our long-standing content policies strictly prohibit apps that feature medical or health-related content or functionalities that are misleading or potentially harmful.
The latest changes from Google aim to quell misinformation and ensure that users can get the most relevant and factual information about the coronavirus.
Search engine query quality: a continuing trend
The changes from Google come as no surprise to most search engine experts since the company has rolled out extensive algorithmic updates for users. However, the latest spark in coronavirus awareness heavily emphasizes key Google Search improvements that impact content writing effectiveness and SEO as a whole.
Verified fact checks are used to rank articles, pages, and content and are a large part of Google’s quality control efforts. Content that can pass stringent fact checks and use authoritative resources are more likely to outrank less detailed articles.
Context-specific SEO and content improvements are another major rollouts from Google in the form of BERT. The BERT updates to Google’s search engine algorithms allow users to find language-specific information based on the context of a search. This means that natural language can help users identify more accurate information. For example, BERT allows search engines to pull out specific details from pages and content that have natural and clean copy.
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