Google on penalizing misinformation- should Google penalize the misinformation the same way it does for spam? One of the members of the SEO community shared the fact that misinformation is harmful and bad for the users as spam content. Google’s Danny Sullivan offered an explanation.


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Misleading Information Should Be Treated Like Spam?

Member of the search marketing community, Joe Hall stated a question of misinformation in the search engine results within the context of a bad user experience and compared it to spam. Out of so many reasons, the one reason Google cracks on spam is due to the poor user experience.

Google Considers Misleading Information As Spam

Google’s Webmaster Guidelines consider misleading information as spam for the reason that it harms the user experience.

Statement By Google

A rich result may be considered spam if it harms the user experience by highlighting falsified or misleading information. For example, a rich result promoting a travel package as an Event or displaying fabricated Reviews would be considered spam.

Google’s Algorithm Framed To Fulfill Information Needs

The reason why Google wants to send users to the websites is that to complete their information needs is due to the reason that it is a “great user experience.”

Google’s Statement About Their Algorithms

The goal of many of our ranking changes is to help searchers find sites that provide a great user experience and fulfill their information needs.

A site that provides quality information provides a great user experience then it is not right to say that websites that provide misleading information provide a bad user experience. So, if it’s true that misleading information provides a poor user experience then why isn’t Google tackling these sites in the same way they take down spam sites?

Statement By Joe Hall

If you are found to spread misinformation about COVID19 vaccines… Then you shouldn’t be in Google’s index at all. It’s time that G puts it’s money where its mouth is in regards to content quality.

Further then Joe tweeted out about the futility of the algorithm like E-A-T for countering with misinformation and the difference between how Google treats misinformation and spam:

Forget Core Quality Updates, YMYL, and EAT, just kick them out of the index. Sick of seeing Google put the hammer down for things like buying links… But consistently turns a blind eye to content that causes real harm to people.

Google’s Response To Misinformation Issue In SERPs

Google’s Danny Sullivan affirmed that Google is not blind when it comes to misinformation and shows the commitment of Google by displaying useful information in the SERPs.

Joe Hall Statement

Bottom line, protecting your user’s life/health should take a higher precedence than punishing link buyers.

Response By Danny Sullivan

It already does. You are choosing to deliberately focus on the fact that we take manual action on *some* things in *addition to* automated protections to make it seem like our existing ranking systems are somehow not trying to show the best and most useful info we can.

It seems like you equate manual action in the case of some spam attempts as somehow like we’re not working across all pages all the time to fight both spam and misinformation. We are.

Joe Hall then again asked why the misleading websites are not getting penalized the same way as spam is:

To which Danny gave an explanation that the task of reviewing millions of the misleading sites manually:

There are millions of pages with misinformation out there. We can’t manually review all existing pages, somehow judge them & also review every new page that’s created for topics that are entirely new. The best way to deal with that is how we do, a focus on quality ranking…

Remember the whole 15% of queries are new thing. That’s a big deal. Some new story breaks, uncertain info flows, misinfo flows along with authority info that flows. Our systems have to deal with this within seconds. Seconds. Over thousands+ pages that quickly emerge…

After that Danny also commented that automated systems do more work against spam than manual actions.

Statement By Danny

Yes, we will take manual actions in addition to the automated stuff, but that’s a tiny amount and also something where a manual approach can work, because it’s pretty clear to us what’s spam or not.


It is not sure whether the algorithms of Google are doing a satisfactory job of countering out the high-quality content in the search results. But again the objection that Google must work on how it considers misinformation is a valid one.

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