In our last blog post about SEO, we discussed some things to think about when choosing an agency to handle your website optimization. Since then, Google has released the full Search Quality Rater’s Guidelines.
This 160-page PDF is used to help Google Search Quality Raters figure out how to rate the search results they are given to test. It is important to understand these raters have no affect on the ranking of the sites they assess. Instead, the guidelines are supposed to show what types of sites Google wants their algorithms to rank the highest.
Even though the Guidelines are thorough and meant for Raters, there are a few key rules everyone with a website will benefit from knowing.
Expertise / Authoritativeness / Trustworthiness.
How does your site show you are an expert in your field or topic? Does it portray authority? Is it trustworthy? These are all important factors users consider while browsing through websites.
Ultimately, E-A-T comes down to content. Having quality content will help users trust your expertise and authority. Easy ways to show expertise are by adding biographies or “About” pages for either the company and employees or whoever is writing the content. Another option is to go through your site and either update old content or create new content.
Though this is not new to Google overall, it is new to the Rater’s Guidelines. Back in August, we said non-responsive sites were not necessarily being punished for not being mobile-friendly. However, that has changed. According to Moz Blog, Google tells their raters to rate any page that is not mobile-friendly at the lowest rating. Additionally, as of October 2015, more than half of Google searches happened on mobile. Think about it: How many times have you grabbed your phone to Google a question? It’s convenient and instantaneous, much easier than finding a computer to use.
This section is entirely new to the Rater’s Guidelines and it focuses on how well the search result meets the search query. There are five ratings:
- Fully Meets
- Highly Meets
- Moderately Meets
- Slightly Meets
- Fails to Meet
According to The SEM Post, Google Webmaster Trends Analyst Gary Illyes has been saying people need to look at their websites from the perspective of “how many visitors have I helped today?” instead of “how many visitors did I get?”
This is the highest score possible and means the site provides “the complete and perfect response or answer” so the searcher does not need to look at other results. This rating goes to queries that are asking a specific question and looking for an exact answer. Because of this, a site may not rate at Fully Meets because the user was not specific enough.
This rating is given when the search results are a “good fit” for the search, but do not go as far as Fully Meets. Usually, the user can still get the answer they are looking for from these results.
These results are usually “helpful for many users or very helpful for some users.” While these results are generally good, the content could use some help. It may not be up-to-date or thorough. The sites may also have low a E-A-T score.
This rating goes to results with low-quality content. The site may be too broad for the user’s query or lack authority and trustworthiness altogether.
Fails to Meet
And finally, the lowest rating. This rating goes to any and all websites that are not mobile-friendly. It is also given to sites with inadequate, irrelevant or obsolete content. These sites are considered not helpful for most users.
Remember, it is important to optimize your site so users can find the information you have to offer as a resource. While high site traffic may look good, it does not mean anything if users are not staying on your website because it does not have useful content.
Make sure to create expertise, authority and trust (E-A-T) on your site by adding information about who is contributing to the site and where the information is coming from. If a search engine does not trust your content then neither will a user.
Finally, keep in mind that even if you do all of the above and have a site that isn’t mobile-friendly, you’re site is still going to receive the lowest rating.