It has been a couple of years since there was a leak that provided everyone a glimpse into the quality guidelines that Google uses to train its contract employees. The idea is to teach people how to review websites and search results the way that Google wants them reviewed. Based on these human reviews Google can find indicators that provide insight so that it can improve its search results.The fifth version is now floating around the internet, and it looks like there have been some major updates.
If you want to sound in the know as an SEO or internet marketer at work, the primary buzzword that people who have read the guidelines will be saying is EAT. Actually EAT is an acronym. It stands for:
Throughout the 160 pages of the 2014 Google Quality Guidelines, often the advice provided to the contractors reflects Google’s desire to learn how to rank based on the expertise, the authority, and the trustworthiness of the publisher as well as the authors of the websites.
Google’s Quality Indicators
While Google is emphasizing EAT for its contracted reviewers it is kind enough to spell out in more detail additional factors that make up quality sites. These are some of the more important ones:
- Quality sites achieve their purpose well. Sites that display tag lines and mission statement like content, and then live up to those claims will get better rankings
- Primary content should be prominently displayed on each page. This content should be immediately visible when a page loads. Watch out for the pop-up ads. If you have to use them, make it easy to close them
- Provide a “satisfying amount of content”. Not clear what this is beyond the idea of not trying to get by with content that is too thin
- Provide helpful supplementary content that contributes to a good quality experience. Examples might include competitor comparisons, top lists, or quotes from your customers. Important point: Any content on your page outside of the primary purpose should, according to Google “be easy to ignore”
- Make sure to provide contact information. This means contact pages, phone numbers, email addresses, physical addresses all have a part in publishing a quality site
- The site is clearly well cared for with a functional design. You have recent updates clearly stated. A well cared for site also works. Make sure there are no 404’s, and that images and other media all work
Google’s Low-Quality Indicators
Keep in mind as you read these indicators for low quality that Google believes that just having one of these means that your site should get lower search rankings.
- Main content is low-quality or is thin
- Duplicate content or publishing clearly duplicate content from which you have just changed a word here or there
- The author is perceived to not have expertise
- The website has a negative reputation
- The supplementary content overwhelms or is not helpful
- Pages on the site have an unsatisfying amount of information about the site
- Page design is lacking: use of space distracts from main content or makes it hard to engage with main content
- Outdated looking website that feels like you should be hearing “You’ve Got Mail” when you are surfing it.
- Spelling or grammar issues
- If the site make users scroll to get to main content
- Keyword stuffing: using too many words to say simple things
- Repeated insertions of ads. Do not have breaks for ads between every paragraph or two throughout your content
- Pop-up ads are hard or impossible to close
- Slow loading content, or repeated server errors
SEO Action Items to Know
The popularity (good links), user engagement, user reviews, and comments are all indicators of a high quality site. This is where you want to spend your time and money. Find high energy enthusiasts and other experts to talk about your site, your services or products. Increasingly Google is going to find ways to gauge how good the reputation of sites are.
To get the very highest quality rating from Google you will want to maintain a very high level of your main content. It will have to be clear to the visitor that lots of time and effort were put into publishing the site.
It is clear that pages on your website that are asking visitors to spend money must have higher quality standards than pages that do not ask for money.
For pages to continue ranking they will need to have a clearly and easily identified main purpose. Make sure that the main purpose if part of the primary content of the page and well identified in the page title or the H1 header.
Pages will benefit in the rankings from having a new look, with a clean appearance, professional touches, and should have less of a sales feel.
Work to provide content on each page the can be perceived to be helpful and not just pushing commerce. Add top five lists, reviews, tips, or other media that is not specifically asking for money.
Work to find independent sites to vouch for you, your writers, your products, your services, or even your ability to provide good customer support.
Increasingly stating how awesome you are will not be enough. Google will trust how other sites review you more than any content you publish.
This means that online reputation is increasing in importance. If there is negative commentary about your site get rid of it. Pay if you have to.
Review any mentions on any pages throughout Wikipedia and make sure that they are all positive – include facts as much as possible.
For local SEO get 3rd party reviews from local IP relevant websites, or from Google account users.
One last tip: Keep in mind that you do not have to have the best site on the web to do well. It’s like that old joke.
Two men are walking through a forest. Suddenly, they see a tiger in the distance, running towards them. They turn and start running away. But then one of them stops, takes some running shoes from his bag, and starts putting them on.
“What are you doing?” says the other man. “Do you think you will run faster than the tiger with those?”
“I don’t have to run faster than the tiger,” he says. “I just have to run faster than you”.
Do your competitive analysis. Make sure that you are following the guidelines at least as well as the sites you need to beat.