What Businesses Need to Know About Google Quality Rating GuidelinesEric Merlin
If you have ever wondered how to interpret Google’s ranking algorithm, you are not alone. If you’re a business struggling to get ranked on search engines, knowing how they rank content can be invaluable.
While in the past, many struggled blindly to find their way up the Google search ladder, something changed in 2015. They released Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines which were intended to help their human evaluators judge the quality of content which they were looking at.
How Google Quality Rating Guidelines Can Help You
The document which was released ended up helping many website owners by giving them a better idea of what Google deems to be a high (or low) quality website. The extremely lengthy guide is extremely in-depth, and as with everything Google – is constantly being improved.
A major revision in 2019 saw big changes, however. Quality evaluators today are asked to review not only a website’s E-A-T but also the content creators’ E-A-T too. This means that not only is your content important, but who writes it is as well. This is especially true or sites with YMYL content.
Website Quality Matters
Before we dive into content quality, I’d also like to bring your attention to a related topic. Aside from content, Google also places a degree of importance on how well a website performs as part of its search rankings.
Always ensure that you meet their performance standards by hosting your business website with a reputable web hosting company. If you’re unsure of how well your current host is performing you can use a monitoring tool to easily keep an eye on it.
Understanding E-A-T and YMYL
E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness), also referred to as page quality, are the three pillars that help you optimise your Google search rankings.
A YMYL (Your Money or Your Life) website is a site that contains content that could affect someone’s health, happiness, safety or financial security.
Together, they form the basis of how you can work with Google to improve your search rankings by improving the quality of your business website. Remember that the Google Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines are the same reference point that Google’s human search evaluators use.
These are the people who manually evaluate pages to help Google see how well its search ranking algorithms are working.
E-A-T Builds Trust
Caption: As mentioned in the guideline section 3.1, E-A-T is one of the factors determining Page Quality.
As mentioned, E-A-T is the main elements that help you demonstrate the quality of your content. The logic is that high-quality content is appreciated and thus, deemed trustworthy by Google. Each of the elements of E-A-T needs to be catered for specifically.
Expertise is demonstrated by having content that expresses extensive knowledge in a certain field. However, possessing knowledge alone is not going to optimise your web page ranking on Google.
You need to also tailor content in order to engage your audience. The answer to how this is done isn’t simple, but some general directions you can consider include;
- Know your audience. Through a close understanding of the audience you are targeting, you will be able to stay focused on the content they want and need.
- Build comprehensive content as this will offer in-depth looks into specifics and can prove useful to readers.
- Use your content to answer questions that users have.
The short answer is simple: create content that offers real value to your audience.
Authoritativeness occurs when your content is known to be reputable and credible. In layman’s terms, your content needs to be strong enough to make you the ‘go-to’ guy when people are looking for something that you specialize in.
To build the authoritativeness of your content, try to:
- Link to other relevant and authoritative websites.
- Foster relationships and get recognized by other authoritative websites.
Tip: When Google talks about links, it is about building your domain’s authority. Google wants websites who have already gained authority to recommend your website.
- Make use of social media as these are also sources of authority. If your content or site is constantly shared by social media platforms, it is also another sign of authority.
- Language matters, so if you feel that your skills in this are weak, try to use a grammar checker to help you improve.
Trustworthiness is judged by having content that contains accurate and honest information. While expertise and authority are factors that can boost your webpage’s rankings, trustworthiness (actually, the lack thereof) can easily tank your rankings.
Some ways you can promote trustworthiness on your site are:
- If you are sharing information obtained externally on your web pages, ensure that citations are properly included.
- Always have a clear way that users can communicate with the site owner, even if it only via a contact form or link.
YMYL Sites Impact Lives
Caption: Google gives a rundown of YMYL topics in the guideline section 2.3.
YMYL content is the type of information that, if presented inaccurately, could directly impact your readers in significant ways. Google feels that content which affects a person’s health, happiness, safety or financial security are critical and needs to be monitored closely.
Because of this, it has stringent policies on YMYL sites and content. If you create any kind of content that can be detrimental for your users, there will be strict consequences.
Examples of YMYL subject matters include:
News and current events on topics like politics, science, business and technology
- Government, law, and civics-related topics
- Financial advice on investment, banking, loans, etc.
- Shopping information, such as the purchase of goods and services
- Health and safety regulation, such as information on drugs, hospitals, etc.
- Information on demographics of people, such as people of a particular race, social group, age group, nationality, etc.
The problem is that there are many grey areas when it comes to YMYL content and that is why quality evaluators are encouraged to use their discretion. This, combined with the sensitive nature of YMYL content means that you need to be especially careful when covering these topics.
Note: Unless your E-A-T ratings are high, it is very unlikely that you will be able to rank well for content created under this umbrella.
Avoid Creating Low-Quality Content
By now you should be getting the gist of the idea. Google likes quality content that helps people. Anything which does not meet this objective well is considered as low quality. Low-quality pages lack certain attributes such as having inadequate E-A-T levels
Caption: An example quoted in the guideline. The page has the lowest quality with no evidence of E-A-T. It appears with no attempt to help users but only to make money.
There are other factors though, which can contribute to low page quality levels. Some of these include;
1. Excessive Use of Distracting Ads
Google expects ads to be visible but some sites take it to the extreme and these can be very distracting. Pages which have ads that distract from the main content may be given low-quality ratings.
Aside from accurate content, user experience is also important and any use of advertising needs to be able to complement the content, and not distract from it. Keep your main content the focus of everything you do, since that is what most of your readers are there for.
Some of the ways you can do this while still maintaining commercial value are to link text to sales pages where necessary. Keep the purpose of each page distinct.
2. Content Which is Lacking in Bulk
Some low-quality pages are deemed unsatisfying because they have a small amount of main content for the purpose which the page was built for. For instance, imagine a dictionary that offers only a handful of word definitions, or an encyclopedia article just a single paragraph long.
To resolve this, ensure that you have enough material for your web page to successfully serve its purpose. Focus on building content which addresses a subject and contains enough supporting content to reinforce your objective.
Matching Your Customers’ Intent
Perhaps the most important thing you need to be able to do (aside from creating quality content) is to match user intent. This refers to the objective of users when performing search queries.
Google places a great deal of emphasis on how well your content fits user intent in order to show them the best results possible. To improve your content, focus on fitting one of these types of intent:
- Navigational – When a user is attempting to find a web page
- Informational – For those seeking information
- Transactional – For users who want are ready to make a purchase
Identifying user intent for search queries serve as a critical aspect for curating content for specific target groups.
Both E-A-T and YMYL are important concepts to understand when you’re trying to get your content to rank. For businesses, the bar is set especially high since oftentimes you will be facing stiff competition.
The Google Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines simply serves as a reference for Google’s human search evaluators – the people who rate how well Google algorithm is doing its job. It gives an insight into what Google looks for in a high-performing webpage – which your web page should strive towards achieving.
While it is impossible to condense the guidelines into a single post, this article should help by highlighting what the key areas to look out for are. As a wrap-up, just keep in mind one vital factor and you should naturally be able to meet those guidelines.
If you stay focused on genuinely wanting to help your potential customers solve a problem, then you should be able to organically rank well.