Knowledge-Based Trust. Why everything you know about SEO is about to change.

Over the years, Google has worked at improving search results by updating their algorithms. The most recent from Google being the Penguin Update.

In the past — and currently — optimizing a website was predominantly divided into two parts; On-Page optimization, and Off-Page optimization. With Off-Page SEO playing the most important role — getting quality links directed at your web pages. In the simplest terms, Google would count each link pointed at your website as a vote of confidence. Thereby increasing the ranking potential for a web page.

Then, as social media became more popular, links via social media sharing began playing a larger role in the search ranking algorythms.

Well, all of that is about to change.

Knowledge-Based Trust (KBT)

An article published February 12, 2015 on the Cornell University Library website by a Google research team, proposes that Knowledge-Based Trust — the correctness of factual information provided by the source, should be used to determine the quality of web sources.

You can download and read the entire 12-page PDF here.

A source that has few false facts is considered to be trustworthy. The facts are automatically extracted from each source by information extraction methods commonly used to construct knowledge bases.

Which means, websites that Google deems to have contradictory information would be ranked lower in search results.


So, how could this newly prosed ranking system effect SEO?

Well, placing the topic of how fact checking would take place aside. I think it’s a great idea — but don’t think it’s a universal solution because not all website content can be fact-checked.

A few examples:

Food websites. Their content revolves around cooking and recipes which basically comes down to techniques, ingredients, and personal taste. If you do search for chocolate chip cookie recipe, you’ll see around 5.6 Million search results. Is any one of those recipes more factual than another?

Opinion based articles/blogs: When it comes to opinion, it’s pretty tough to verify a person’s personal thoughts and beliefs. The exception is if an opinion is based on some sort of “factual” information that’s been deemed incorrect. Another such example is this article. The beginning portion is factual and linked to sources. However, everything below “Implications” is my personal opinion.

News sites: You might initially think news sources would be the primary sites that Knowledge-Based Trust would be the most beneficial. However, news has become a “what’s happening right now” event. So when a story is breaking, there are no verified sources to fact check against. If there was a way to do so, FOX News would be out of business (sorry, could’t resist taking the shot). It would only be after the story has come and gone that facts could be verified and pages given ranking factors.


As I stated above, I think this is a game changer to SEO. It will significantly change the way we approach SEO and, hopefully, increase the relaibilty of ranked web pages and how they’re ranked in the search results.

That said, in order for Knowledge-Based Trust to be the most effective in ranking web pages, it will need to become part of the algorythm process and not in-lieu of it.

What are your thoughts? How do you see KBT playing out in SEO?

Please post your thoughts and comments below. Thanks!