Unveiling the Google Owl Update

Google Owl

On Tuesday, 25 April 2017, Google introduced its latest update called the Project Owl for curbing fake news and combating hate speech which tends to pollute its search results. Project Owl presents two innovative ways to consumers for reporting the perceived issues in Google search results. Google has also sought professional assistance from humans in an endeavor to come up with more effective and reliable information.

Why is Google making these changes?

Google has lately been blamed and lambasted for search results that demonstrate false, outrageous and offensive information on specific topics. For example, Google glaringly displayed links leading to pro-Nazi websites while responding to search queries regarding the holocaust. Moreover, when phrases about women were being typed, Google would come up with suggestions such as “Why women are so dumb?”

Undoubtedly, this triggered tremendous amount of negative attention and chiding from the media. Google actually is not comfortable with the idea of interfering with the algorithms that are intended towards finding the most effective answers to any given topic. However, the issue was getting out of hand, so Google took appropriate action.

The Human Touch

Google is now depending on human teams to compel algorithms to display more reliable information. It has recently sought the help of human evaluators who will be assessing Google search results’ quality by coming up with feedback on its numerous experiments. These ratings will not be determining individual page rankings.  Google said that they will actually assist them in accumulating information regarding the quality and authenticity of their results and identifying areas that require improvement.

In March, Google’s Search Quality Rater Guidelines were updated to provide more comprehensive instances of poor-quality web pages for raters to flag accordingly and that would include uncorroborated conspiracy theories, misrepresentative information, unanticipated offensive results, etc.

This is Google’s endeavor towards showcasing authoritative web pages and demoting poor-quality content. It has empowered its users with the ability to directly flag any content that come in Featured Snippets and Autocomplete predictions.

These cutting-edge feedback mechanisms will be included in precisely labeled categories for you to directly communicate with Google and inform them if content is unhelpful or sensitive.

How to report fake news to Google

Project Owl allows its users two ways of communicating and reporting any issues relating to the search results. Google has been successful in integrating a novel way that lets you directly connect with Google and inform them when you come across wrong or objectionable content. This advanced tool comes equipped with a clear instruction ‘Report Inappropriate Predictions’.

Report fake news to Google

Once the user decides to click on this particular line, s/he will go to a window pop up which enables them to inform Google if the predictions are hateful, or violent, and the like.

Another way of letting Google know is if there is inaccurate details in the information boxes. The major change that was integrated into the Owl Algorithm is that Google will henceforth; give more credibility and importance to truly authoritative content.

What does it mean for your SEO?

The other Google algorithms (most notably RankBrain, Panda and Penguin) have huge reaching impact and redefine how Google determines the quality of on-page content and links to a website.  The Owl algorithm on the other hand specifically penalizes sites with fake news and effects searchers more than webmasters.

Facebook and other social media sites are also taking similar steps to remove fake news from their results and one way to improve SEO is to align your SEO and social media strategies.


Project Owl is a significant measure taken by Google to address the issue of offensive content and fake news. However, it is actually too early to come to a definite conclusion that the update has actually succeeded. The Project Owl could be hurting numerous popular websites. We need to wait and watch how all this is going to affect the search results’ quality with time.


Evans Walsh is a freelance content writer. He has written many good and informative articles on all manner of categories - technology, health, fashion, beauty, education, travel etc. He loves to share his knowledge and experience with his friends and colleagues.