How Google’s AI Fact-Checker Scours Banking Websites

Banks and credit unions don't run media sites, but they are an important component in the web's content base. The urge to verify what online publishers put out has spawned new tools like Google's fact checking function, now in beta. Making your financial institution website more approachable to Google's artificial-intelligence-based fact-checker can make it more authoritative, putting conforming institutions in a good place with search engines.

In an era of increased scrutiny of “facts” and “fake news,” some media websites have implemented what’s called a “fact checker.” Fact checkers verify the claim that an article or web page is making with external resources like other articles, PDFs, or web-documented evidence.

Now, Google is starting to deploy fact checkers on certain search engine results pages (SERPs).

Some fact-checking organizations, like PolitiFact, will manually verify claims. However, much of the new generation of fact checking is powered by artificial intelligence. With so much content being published across the web every day — and “fake news” a pernicious problem in the media industry — expect these AI-enabled fact checkers to become even more common.

So how might they affect your financial business?

Fact checkers only work insofar as they can link to reliable sources of information. Google’s fact checker appears to use not just website content for validation but topical relevancy (sitewide content), topical authority (sitewide links), and, most importantly, backlinks.

If your financial institution is investing in SEO, chances are you’re already focused on these three things. That means your site may be well on the way to serving as a validation source.

How to Get on Google’s Fact-Checking Radar

In addition to following standard SEO best practices, there are two specific steps you can take to serve as a source of validation and gain additional exposure on the SERP.

Optimize your content strategy for the news cycle. If you want to serve as a resource for validating what’s going on in the news, you must be able to create content quickly.

Is that to say that you want to be an authority for everything newsworthy? No, of course not. But it’s important to recognize what people are talking about in the finance space and consider how your institution can be part of the conversation.

Your content doesn’t always need to be news-oriented. For example, one claim that a fact checker might seek to verify is “Are banks doing away with physical locations?”

In this case, a bank could simply enhance its Locations page with a sentence like “Bank X has 5,000 locations nationwide and we’re adding more every year.” If Bank X’s website has strong authority and relevance for location-related searches, there is a good chance it will serve as the validation source for that particular query.

One quick-and-dirty approach to staying abreast of the news is Google Trends. Trends helps you identify not only what topics are trending but how Google’s search volume changes over time. Google Trends, combined with Google Alerts or a similar tool, can keep you on top of the news cycle.

Add schema markup to your content to highlight it as a source of validation. Even more important than relevance, from a fact checkers’ perspective is the technical side of things. Across your blog, resource section and insights section — anywhere you think you have information that can validate media claims — you should be prepared to add markup language (i.e., schema).

What you must do is use the markup to surround your authoritative content. Keeping with the bank example, if one of your credit cards has a competitive rate, you might publish a table that shows different cards’ interest rates, then wrap the table in the markup tag.

Using this tag alerts search engines that your content may be used as a source of validation. What kinds of content are appropriate for ? Anything that can answer a search user’s query in an authoritative way. Some examples:

  • Does Bank X have the lowest mortgage rates?
  • Are 401ks better than Roth IRAs?
  • Is it smart to get a personal loan to secure a down payment for a house?
  • Is it true that I can get a home loan with bad credit?
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Schema Will Rule in the Artificial Intelligence Age

Google’s fact checker has been in beta for some time and is only now coming into wide use. That means we don’t always know precisely what triggers a site to get selected as a validation source. Yet the key ranking factors mentioned above — relevance, authority and links — are likely to be important to the fact checker.

What’s most essential, though, is schema. Consider when and how you can deploy the markup on both your product pages (which can address branded queries) and your educational pages (for more general queries about your vertical).

Overall, it’s becoming more and more apparent that schema is how AI will interpret data as evidenced by voice search and SERP snippets; Google typically favors schema-tagged content for both result types.

As such, if your goal is to own more of the SERP for your target keywords — and it should — schema will be absolutely critical. Combine this technical best practice with topical content and you’ll be well positioned to win with fact checkers.

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