Google became the most popular search engine in the world by providing higher quality search results when people were searching online. Rather than rely solely on keywords and traffic, Google’s algorithm takes into consideration the quality of the content that’s indexed for the search engine. Google recently updated its quality guidelines for websites, and marketers should pay attention to the changes that were made.
Determining the quality of content isn’t something that can be done entirely by computers and algorithms. Google uses human reviewers to ensure the pages that rank high in search results provide useful information. To make the process more uniform, Google has Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines, which reviewers use to judge content. Last week, Google updated these guidelines for the first time in nearly a year.
The updated search evaluator tools showed that Google considers “E-A-T” (Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness) to be a part of page quality. When decided what is high-quality content and what isn’t, Google relies on “E-A-T” to judge the material. It shows that websites that are regularly posting content with poor accuracy will see their search ranking lowered as a result.
Similarly, expertise and authoritativeness aren’t something that a website can easily create. Content from an experienced professional in a field will rank higher than something written by an amateur. And news from reputable journalism outlets will rank higher than the average blogger. Continually posting accurate information about your field will help your website improve its expertise and authoritativeness.
In the guidelines, Google uses Visa as an example. The guide states, “Visa is a credit card company with high E-A-T that offers services for credit cards, banking, etc. and has a good reputation. High+ to Highest is the appropriate rating.”
This example shows that there are many ratings, and even large brands are guaranteed to get the highest ranking. The flipside is that the multiple rankings mean there’s more wiggle room for average sites.
Google updated the guidelines to remind website owners not to abuse interstitial ads and banners. It’s fine to have a popup banner or interstitial page, but these elements shouldn’t prevent people from seeing the content they found in search. The Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines were updated to warn advertisers and marketers that their interstitial pages or ads don’t limit a user’s ability to get to a page’s main content. This issue affects websites and apps.
When abused, Google considers this tactic to be distracting. It can be frustrating for someone to find something in the search results, only for them to wade through several more pages and popups before they can view the content. Sites with pages that have distracting ads will find their content ranking lower than it would otherwise.
Though there weren’t many changes, and the changes that were made reflect pre-existing guidelines, having these rules updated is helpful for SEO marketers. It’s vital to remember that Google is considering multiple things when grading the quality of the content.
For more recent SEO guidance from Google, read this article on how the search giant feels about SEO contests.