Google’s “One True Answer” problem — when featured snippets go bad

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Here we are again. Google’s in hot water because of what I call its “One True Answer” feature, where it especially highlights one search listing over all others as if that’s the very best answer. It’s a problem because sometimes these answers are terribly wrong.

At the end of last month, it was spotted that Google was listing several US presidents as being members of the Ku Klux Klan, even though there’s no conclusive evidence of any of this. This week, Google has featured answers saying that former President Barack Obama is plotting a coup and that Republicans are the same as Nazis

What’s happening in these cases involves a “featured snippet,” where Google has taken on of the 10 web listings it normally displays and put it into a special box, to highlight it as seemingly the best of all the answers, the listing that may fully answer your question.

I’ve taken to calling this Google’s “One True Answer” feature, because that’s effectively what it is to me. Google is expressing so much faith in this answer that it elevates it above all others.

The KKK example last month was kind of a tipping point for me, with Google getting it wrong with One True Answer. This isn’t a new problem. It’s one that has been allowed to fester over time.

[Read the full article on Search Engine Land.]


About The Author

Danny Sullivan is a Founding Editor of Marketing Land. He’s a widely cited authority on search engines and search marketing issues who has covered the space since 1996. Danny also serves as Chief Content Officer for Third Door Media, which publishes Marketing Land and produces the SMX: Search Marketing Expo conference series. He has a personal blog called Daggle (and keeps his disclosures page there). He can be found on Facebook, Google + and microblogs on Twitter as @dannysullivan.


 

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