Edelman’s 2018 Trust Barometer: Is Search Trustworthy?

March 15, 2018

Google has a new problem, in addition to all of their recent lawsuits and penalty fines.

Edelman released the 2018 edition of their Trust Barometer. One of the casualties of the continued trend of fake news and disinformation is search, as illustrated by the graph below:

Simply put, people don’t trust the search engines as much, because they’re prominently positioning questionable content:

“When fake news threatens real news, the origin of content begins to matter more…trust in social networks and search are declining.”

Take Larry Ellison. If you looked up Larry Ellison today, you would see something like this:

His results are populated largely by news and media content, which in turn is populated by listicles and clickbait headlines.

“Larry Ellison has an insane real estate portfolio”.

“30 Surprising Facts About Billionaire Tycoon Larry Ellison”.

“10 Expensive Things Owned by Oracle Founder Larry Ellison”.

You get the idea. His results are full of that variety of content. What’s conspicuously absent is serious, informative media articles and ownership. Larry Ellison’s Twitter account hovers at the bottom of page one, and that is the only social property ranking on page one.

He also doesn’t have a corporate website ranking despite the fact that he notably co-founded and is CTO of Oracle.

If I had to describe Larry Ellison’s search results, I would call them uninteresting, repetitive, and sensationalist.

What if they looked like this instead?

The results are still somewhat sensationalist. That, however, is more a reflection of Larry Ellison, who’s a sensationalist kind of guy.

But thanks to a better balance of results categories, and an increase in authoritative media results with reasonable headlines, I find myself trusting the search results for Larry Ellison significantly more.

The upshot: With the right content, phrased and titled in the right way, in the right balance, search can be a marketing vehicle that displays credible, interesting information about you, your brand, and your organization.


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