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Can We Trust Google to Show Us Trustworthy Sites? – ReadWrite



Nate Nead

When you conduct a search looking for some specific information, like how the dodo went extinct or when Henry VIII ruled or who starred in Jurassic Park, you tend to trust the results almost immediately. You’ll get a snippet of information in a box or in a featured snippet, probably pulled from a recognizable authority like Wikipedia or IMDB.

But can we really afford to trust Google to show us the most trustworthy sites in its SERPs? And if not, what recourse do we have?

The Importance of Trustworthy Sources

I shouldn’t have to do much explaining on why it’s important to be able to find trustworthy sites. Most of us conduct dozens of searches per day, even if it’s for something small, like looking up the local weather or defining a word we’ve heard for the first time. Getting relevant, factual information can help us go about our day successfully, have better conversations, and look better in front of our peers and colleagues.

On a bigger scale, trustworthy sources provide us a foundation for our shared reality. If someone encounters an untrustworthy news story and believes it to be true, it could influence how they vote in elections – or radicalize them, causing them to affiliate with other like-minded radicals who believe the same false “truth.”

Collectively, it could also lead us down a dark and dangerous path; it’s not hard to imagine a scenario in which a handful of untrustworthy stories result in a butterfly effect-style cascade of events ultimately culminating in an existential threat. For example, a false story could motivate dissidents to commit an attack on a nuclear armed power, who then uses the attack as an excuse to escalate an international conflict.

How Google Works

Let’s pump the brakes on the trustworthy discussion and focus on Google – the centerpiece of this conversation. How exactly does Google work, and how did it become our default indicator of trustworthiness?

Google rose to prominence as the best search engine in the world because it makes users happy. Its entire algorithm is all about providing users with search results that are both relevant and authoritative. The “relevant” side of the equation is easy to understand from a conceptual level; Google tries to provide content topically related to your search. It’s a no-brainer.

But how about the “authoritative” side of the equation?

If Google has 1,000 relevant results to show you, it wants to rank them preferentially in terms of how trustworthy they’re deemed to be. The more trustworthy a site is, the higher it ranks and the more visible it becomes.

Makes sense – but what exactly is that “trustworthiness?”

Much of this trustworthiness is determined by the quality and quantity of links pointing to a website. The more links it has, and the more authoritative those links are, the more trustworthy the site will be, and the higher it will rank.

Google also uses a combination of more than 200 ranking factors to determine rank, including things like:

  •         Content quality. Though we can’t be sure exactly how it works, Google does evaluate the type and quality of content you have on your site. Better content makes a site more trustworthy, allowing it to rank higher.
  •         Website loading speed. Faster-loading websites lend themselves to a better user experience, making them preferred by Google.
  •         Mobile friendliness. Similarly, since most users rely on mobile devices for the majority of their searches, mobile friendly sites get an advantage.
  •         Site security. Secure sites that have been coded and maintained correctly are considered more authoritative and trustworthy as well.

The Issue With Determining Trustworthiness

So what’s the issue?

As far as search algorithms go, Google is on top of the world. We’ve all had repeatedly good experiences finding what we’re searching for – and coming up with correct answers to tough questions.

But the central issue lies with Google propensity to equate links with trustworthiness. The quality and integrity of a site aren’t determined by a set of objective factors, like their research process or their specific credentials, but rather the fact that lots of people on the internet are pointing to it.

What’s to stop a site from artificially generating links to make itself appear more authoritative than it is? What’s to stop a popular yet misleading article from becoming widespread and commonly accepted as fact?

Now, to be fair, Google does have security measures in place to protect against this kind of thing. It employs a very regimented formula to determine whether or not a link is “natural,” thus negating the results of would-be ranking manipulators – but this only goes so far. As long as you’re able to replicate a “natural” link, you can get around this system.

Additionally, Google reserves the right to take manual action against egregious offenders who violate its terms of service – and it’s delisted plenty of sites in the past for spreading fake news and misleading the public.

On top of that, Google is always evolving. It’s constantly looking for ways that people are exploiting the system and finding ways to counter them.

Even so, it’s not hard to see that this system of establishing trustworthiness is flawed.

A Better System?

So is there a better system we can use to determine trustworthiness?

The short answer is no – or at least not right now.

One approach is to designate a single authority to review sources and establish trustworthiness. But no single authority is perfect at this job. We’re all subject to bias, so it’s only a matter of time before this system would throw out some truly legitimate, trustworthy sources while promoting less trustworthy ones, often in pursuit of supporting our own viewpoints and reinforcing our assumptions (or keeping us in power).

Google’s approach, essentially decentralizing the trustworthiness evaluation process, is a good alternative. But it can be manipulated by sufficiently motivated individuals and groups – plus, the general consensus on a given topic isn’t always what’s correct.

We’re going to run into these problems no matter what kind of trust-evaluating system we come up with in these two models.

The Solutions

So if there isn’t much space for a “better” solution at this point, but we can’t trust Google to always provide us with trustworthy sources, what are the solutions?

  •         Identify your own trustworthy sources. As consumers, it’s our responsibility to do our own independent research and find our own trustworthy sources. By looking at a wide berth of different stories, reviewing credentials and accolades, and trusting recommendations from people we respect, we can select examples of publications that can always (or at least mostly) be trusted. Then, when we find them in Google search results, even if they’re multiple ranks from the top, we can make them our personal top choice.
  •         Review multiple entries. Google displays multiple pages in its SERPs for a reason; it’s to give us more information to explore. You shouldn’t assume that the top result is the “best” result, either in terms of relevance or authority. Instead, review multiple sources for each of your queries, and phrase your queries in different ways to eliminate potential sources of bias.
  •         Use multiple search engines. While you’re at it, consider using multiple search engines to do your research. Google is universally revered, but it’s not the only game in town. DuckDuckGo, Bing, and a growing roster of competitors each have their own advantages when it comes to search – and in some cases, they may be able to connect you to more trustworthy sources.
  •         Recognize your own uncertainty. Finally, and most importantly, acknowledge your own uncertainty. The truth is often murky and complicated – not something that can be answered in a single sentence. Take everything you read on the internet with a grain of salt – even if it’s Google’s top recommendation.

Google may have its issues, but it’s still (arguably) the best internet search tool we’ve got – and there’s no doubt that searching the web is an important function for all of us. Scrutinize your own sense of authority and trust on the internet, even when you’re dealing with so-called “authoritative” sources and don’t invest too heavily in stories or facts you haven’t verified. 


Nate Nead

Nate Nead is the CEO & Managing Member of Nead, LLC, a consulting company that provides strategic advisory services across multiple disciplines including finance, marketing and software development. For over a decade Nate had provided strategic guidance on M&A, capital procurement, technology and marketing solutions for some of the most well-known online brands. He and his team advise Fortune 500 and SMB clients alike. The team is based in Seattle, Washington; El Paso, Texas and West Palm Beach, Florida.


Fintech Kennek raises $12.5M seed round to digitize lending



Google eyed for $2 billion Anthropic deal after major Amazon play

London-based fintech startup Kennek has raised $12.5 million in seed funding to expand its lending operating system.

According to an Oct. 10 report, the round was led by HV Capital and included participation from Dutch Founders Fund, AlbionVC, FFVC, Plug & Play Ventures, and Syndicate One. Kennek offers software-as-a-service tools to help non-bank lenders streamline their operations using open banking, open finance, and payments.

The platform aims to automate time-consuming manual tasks and consolidate fragmented data to simplify lending. Xavier De Pauw, founder of Kennek said:

“Until kennek, lenders had to devote countless hours to menial operational tasks and deal with jumbled and hard-coded data – which makes every other part of lending a headache. As former lenders ourselves, we lived and breathed these frustrations, and built kennek to make them a thing of the past.”

The company said the latest funding round was oversubscribed and closed quickly despite the challenging fundraising environment. The new capital will be used to expand Kennek’s engineering team and strengthen its market position in the UK while exploring expansion into other European markets. Barbod Namini, Partner at lead investor HV Capital, commented on the investment:

“Kennek has developed an ambitious and genuinely unique proposition which we think can be the foundation of the entire alternative lending space. […] It is a complicated market and a solution that brings together all information and stakeholders onto a single platform is highly compelling for both lenders & the ecosystem as a whole.”

The fintech lending space has grown rapidly in recent years, but many lenders still rely on legacy systems and manual processes that limit efficiency and scalability. Kennek aims to leverage open banking and data integration to provide lenders with a more streamlined, automated lending experience.

The seed funding will allow the London-based startup to continue developing its platform and expanding its team to meet demand from non-bank lenders looking to digitize operations. Kennek’s focus on the UK and Europe also comes amid rising adoption of open banking and open finance in the regions.

Featured Image Credit: Photo from; Thank you!

Radek Zielinski

Radek Zielinski is an experienced technology and financial journalist with a passion for cybersecurity and futurology.

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Fortune 500’s race for generative AI breakthroughs



Deanna Ritchie

As excitement around generative AI grows, Fortune 500 companies, including Goldman Sachs, are carefully examining the possible applications of this technology. A recent survey of U.S. executives indicated that 60% believe generative AI will substantially impact their businesses in the long term. However, they anticipate a one to two-year timeframe before implementing their initial solutions. This optimism stems from the potential of generative AI to revolutionize various aspects of businesses, from enhancing customer experiences to optimizing internal processes. In the short term, companies will likely focus on pilot projects and experimentation, gradually integrating generative AI into their operations as they witness its positive influence on efficiency and profitability.

Goldman Sachs’ Cautious Approach to Implementing Generative AI

In a recent interview, Goldman Sachs CIO Marco Argenti revealed that the firm has not yet implemented any generative AI use cases. Instead, the company focuses on experimentation and setting high standards before adopting the technology. Argenti recognized the desire for outcomes in areas like developer and operational efficiency but emphasized ensuring precision before putting experimental AI use cases into production.

According to Argenti, striking the right balance between driving innovation and maintaining accuracy is crucial for successfully integrating generative AI within the firm. Goldman Sachs intends to continue exploring this emerging technology’s potential benefits and applications while diligently assessing risks to ensure it meets the company’s stringent quality standards.

One possible application for Goldman Sachs is in software development, where the company has observed a 20-40% productivity increase during its trials. The goal is for 1,000 developers to utilize generative AI tools by year’s end. However, Argenti emphasized that a well-defined expectation of return on investment is necessary before fully integrating generative AI into production.

To achieve this, the company plans to implement a systematic and strategic approach to adopting generative AI, ensuring that it complements and enhances the skills of its developers. Additionally, Goldman Sachs intends to evaluate the long-term impact of generative AI on their software development processes and the overall quality of the applications being developed.

Goldman Sachs’ approach to AI implementation goes beyond merely executing models. The firm has created a platform encompassing technical, legal, and compliance assessments to filter out improper content and keep track of all interactions. This comprehensive system ensures seamless integration of artificial intelligence in operations while adhering to regulatory standards and maintaining client confidentiality. Moreover, the platform continuously improves and adapts its algorithms, allowing Goldman Sachs to stay at the forefront of technology and offer its clients the most efficient and secure services.

Featured Image Credit: Photo by Google DeepMind; Pexels; Thank you!

Deanna Ritchie

Managing Editor at ReadWrite

Deanna is the Managing Editor at ReadWrite. Previously she worked as the Editor in Chief for Startup Grind and has over 20+ years of experience in content management and content development.

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UK seizes web3 opportunity simplifying crypto regulations



Deanna Ritchie

As Web3 companies increasingly consider leaving the United States due to regulatory ambiguity, the United Kingdom must simplify its cryptocurrency regulations to attract these businesses. The conservative think tank Policy Exchange recently released a report detailing ten suggestions for improving Web3 regulation in the country. Among the recommendations are reducing liability for token holders in decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) and encouraging the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to adopt alternative Know Your Customer (KYC) methodologies, such as digital identities and blockchain analytics tools. These suggestions aim to position the UK as a hub for Web3 innovation and attract blockchain-based businesses looking for a more conducive regulatory environment.

Streamlining Cryptocurrency Regulations for Innovation

To make it easier for emerging Web3 companies to navigate existing legal frameworks and contribute to the UK’s digital economy growth, the government must streamline cryptocurrency regulations and adopt forward-looking approaches. By making the regulatory landscape clear and straightforward, the UK can create an environment that fosters innovation, growth, and competitiveness in the global fintech industry.

The Policy Exchange report also recommends not weakening self-hosted wallets or treating proof-of-stake (PoS) services as financial services. This approach aims to protect the fundamental principles of decentralization and user autonomy while strongly emphasizing security and regulatory compliance. By doing so, the UK can nurture an environment that encourages innovation and the continued growth of blockchain technology.

Despite recent strict measures by UK authorities, such as His Majesty’s Treasury and the FCA, toward the digital assets sector, the proposed changes in the Policy Exchange report strive to make the UK a more attractive location for Web3 enterprises. By adopting these suggestions, the UK can demonstrate its commitment to fostering innovation in the rapidly evolving blockchain and cryptocurrency industries while ensuring a robust and transparent regulatory environment.

The ongoing uncertainty surrounding cryptocurrency regulations in various countries has prompted Web3 companies to explore alternative jurisdictions with more precise legal frameworks. As the United States grapples with regulatory ambiguity, the United Kingdom can position itself as a hub for Web3 innovation by simplifying and streamlining its cryptocurrency regulations.

Featured Image Credit: Photo by Jonathan Borba; Pexels; Thank you!

Deanna Ritchie

Managing Editor at ReadWrite

Deanna is the Managing Editor at ReadWrite. Previously she worked as the Editor in Chief for Startup Grind and has over 20+ years of experience in content management and content development.

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