Google Responds To Criticism Over Forums At Top Of Search Results

Google’s discussions and forums carousel in search results has sparked concern among SEO professionals, who worry that the prominence of forum content could lead to misinformation and scams.

Google’s Search Liaison, Danny Sullivan, has acknowledged the issue and stated that feedback has been passed along for further evaluation.

Sullivan also addressed the broader concern regarding forum content, noting that while some may dislike it, many users appreciate and actively seek it out.

This article explores the implications of the new carousel and its potential opportunities and challenges.

Concerns Raised Regarding Forum Content In Search Results

The introduction of the discussions and forums carousel has made some question Google’s commitment to surfacing reliable information.

Lily Ray, a prominent figure in the SEO community, raised this issue on Twitter, stating, “Isn’t this a bit dangerous for Google?”

She pointed out that Reddit, in particular, has been “overtaken by affiliate spam and scammers.”

Google’s Response

In response, Sullivan explained that the carousel “appears automatically if the systems think it might be relevant and useful.”

However, some users pushed back on this explanation.

Twitter user @sc_kkw argued, “If they actively seek it out, let them. It’s much easier for a user to type ‘Reddit’ at the end of their search than it is for someone who doesn’t want forum answers to sift through and find a reputable website now.”

Sullivan maintained that the goal is to show relevant content, whether from forums, blogs, or websites.

He provides an example of a personal search experience where forum results quickly solved an issue with smart window blinds, demonstrating the potential value of this content.

Potential Improvements On The Way?

Sullivan assured Ray that her concern had been understood and passed on to the search team.

He outlined potential improvements, such as adjusting the frequency of forum content for specific queries or adding disclaimers to clarify that forum participants may not be medical professionals.

Why SEJ Cares

The inclusion of the discussions and forums carousel in search results, particularly for YMYL queries, has implications for both users and publishers:

  1. User trust: If forum content containing misinformation or scams appears prominently in search results, it could erode user trust in Google’s ability to provide reliable information.
  2. Discouraged publishers: SEO professionals and creators who have invested time and resources into creating high-quality, authoritative content may feel discouraged if forum content consistently outranks their work.
  3. Public health and well-being: The spread of misinformation through forum content could potentially harm users who rely on search results for accurate medical information.

How This Can Help You

Despite the concerns raised, the inclusion of forum content in search results can present opportunities, such as:

  1. Identify content gaps: Analyzing the questions and discussions in forum results can help you identify gaps in your content and create targeted, authoritative resources to address user needs.
  2. Engage with the community: Participating in relevant forums and providing helpful, accurate information can help establish your brand as a trustworthy authority in your niche, potentially increasing visibility and traffic.
  3. Adapt your content strategy: Consider incorporating user-generated content, such as expert interviews or case studies, to provide firsthand experiences and perspectives that users find valuable in forum discussions.

In Summary

Google’s discussions and forums carousel in search results has raised concerns among SEO professionals. Google acknowledged the feedback and is considering potential improvements.

This development presents challenges and opportunities for SEO professionals to identify content gaps, engage with the community, and adapt content strategies to serve users’ needs better.

Featured Image: pathdoc/Shutterstock

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