As we all know, Google is tight-lipped about their algorithm and ranking factors. They do this to avoid past SEO abuse, which has ranged anywhere from keyword stuffing to the more recent spamming semantic markup.
But since Google has started announcing updates and additions to their core algorithm, it’s about time they start sharing their criteria for quality content. This is why Google’s Search Quality Guidelines was finally released on November 2015 on their webmaster blog. (These guidelines were initially leaked, and eventually released by Google since most of the SEO community had already seen it.)
Looking at the guidelines, it’s clear what matters to Google. First, Google wants to give priority to content that is written with a certain level of expertise. If the content has to do with health or finances, Google requires its Content Quality Graders to take extra care in making sure they are high quality pages.
Second, Google wants to provide the best user experience possible for the people searching on their search engine — which means, they want to direct their users to the websites that will provide them with the best answers.
Use the E-A-T Standard
E-A-T, an acronym for Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness, is what Google looks for in high quality content. This is especially the case for pages that have advice on the following topics:
- Hobbies (Like Sports, the Arts, and Outdoor Activities)
All of these topics require expert writers. If pages with these topics don’t have a certain level of complexity or expertise, Google’s evaluators will deem it low-quality.
An expert writer is not necessarily someone that has studied or worked in a field. It varies based on topic and context. For example, Google considers product/restaurant reviews to be expert content as long as it’s in-depth and helpful. Similarly, they consider certain community forums as high-quality. Quality forums generally have content from users with first hand experience. To make it clear: advice on a specific topic should come from an actual professional, but advice on life experiences can come from someone who has gone through it.
Here are some high-quality content examples Google provides:
Providing the Best User Experience
As we mentioned before, Google wants the best experience for its users. Since we’ve already been given tons of on-page feedback on content size and page speed specifications, we will need to start focusing on other nuances of the user’s experience.
1. Optimize For Device Types
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Google released Mobilegeddon last year, and hit us with a reality check — we had to make sure our websites were up-to-par with different screen sizes, different devices, and connection speeds. Google’s Mobilegeddon removed low-quality mobile results from its search engine. Keep this in mind with new devices that will be released in the future.
2. Avoid Spammy Advertising
Besides the general best practices of making your website load quickly and easy to use, quality raters are also on the hunt for spammy advertising. This includes but is not limited to: popover ads that shift a user’s page down, popup ads that restrict a user’s ability to switch screens, and having more than three ads on any given page.
3. Get Creative with Doorway Pages
If you’re an affiliate marketer, Google will not want to rank your product review unless a user searches for its specific attributes. Instead, they want to rank the product itself — that way, a customer can go straight to checkout or learn more information about the brand.
How Will Google’s Quality Guidelines Change in The Future?
Google’s quality guidelines will evolve with new technology and devices. We’ll just have to wait and see if Google’s Quality Graders will actually be as harsh as they seem in these guidelines.
Make sure to get the nitty-gritty details on Google’s Quality Guidelines in the full 160 page document… which, just so happens to be a PDF document with a terrible mobile experience. We’ll let it slide this time, Google.