One of the many tasks of an SEO is predicting the future of search and how this will have an impact on your website – if you don’t consider future changes then you are only lining yourself up for troubles in the way of ranking drops or even penalisation. Part of this comes with staying up to date with the latest Google News (great source @ http://insidesearch.blogspot.co.uk) but occasionally the community is given a wonderful insight into the search giant through document leaks, and the latest comes with version 5 of the Google Search Quality Guidelines, 2014.
If you are unfamiliar with how the Google algorithm updates are processed it can be difficult to see how this is big news. The Search Quality Guidelines are used by the human raters to evaluate the search results based on a number of factors such as relevance and usefulness. This is done prior to any algorithm updates being rolled out, so often an update will be made in a test-bed situation where the human raters will evaluate the results and can report back on whether the algorithm update made the expected improvements – assuming it passes the test then it will get rolled out to live search queries.
Knowing what Google is looking for as a quality result, we can then use this information as part of our optimisation to ensure all aspects are being covered. The majority of points covered in the PDF will be standard knowledge for most SEOs, but here are a few takeaways to keep in mind as a business owner –
E-A-T or Expertise, Authority & Trust
This is one of the biggest points of the latest guidelines and suggests that sites lacking in expertise can lose overall trust and authority. This theory has been common knowledge with many experts but Google has gone on to give some examples;
High quality pages and websites need enough expertise to be authoritative and trustworthy on their topic. Keep in mind that there are “expert” websites of all types, even gossip websites, fashion websites, humor websites, forum and Q&A pages, etc. In fact, some types of information are found almost exclusively on forums and discussions, where community of experts can provide valuable perspectives on specific topics.
• High quality medical advice should come from people or organizations with appropriate medical expertise or accreditation. High quality medical advice or information should be written or produced in a professional style and should be edited, reviewed, and updated on a regular basis.
• High quality financial advice, legal advice, tax advice, etc., should come from expert sources and be maintained and updated.
• High quality advice pages on topics such as home remodeling (which can cost thousands of dollars) or advice on parenting issues (which can impact the future happiness of a family) should also come from “expert” sources which users can trust.
• High quality pages on hobbies, such as photography or learning to play a guitar, also require expertise.
Now thats not to start saying that only those with industry accreditations or educational merits can write on the subject, Google actually goes on to say that life experience can make you an “expert” in the field so its not just for those with training or formal education in the field.
Page Level vs. Domain Level Checks
As part of the E.A.T evaluation, the checks can be carried out on the domain as a whole or on a per-page basis. Certain elements of the site will differ depending on what page is being viewed. Because of this things like main content, supporting content and page design are page level checks (as stated in a previous guidebook) but there are also elements which Google uses to evaluate the site as a whole and these can differ when evaluating user-generated content (including sites like YouTube).
Website level checks for E-A-T are important in the following situations:
• All content on the website is produced by the same person or organization. An example is a medical website which is produced by a reputable physician group.
• The content of the website is produced by different authors or organizations, but the website has very active editorial standards. An example of this is a science journal with very high standards for publication.
• The website has an extremely positive reputation from experts in the topic of the website, i.e., the website is acknowledged to be one of the most expert, authoritative, or trustworthy sources on the topic.
So depending on the type of site you run and the content you generate there may only be a few areas you need to focus on improving, but one of them is definitely Authority…which is echoed in a later part about positive reputation.
Positive Reputation and Page Level Ratings
Reputation has been mentioned in previous guideline publications but the latest takes this to a new level and helps clarify it slightly. Basically during the evaluation a page can be assigned a rating from Lowest to Highest – obviously the aim is to get the first page results all showing a High or Highest rating.
In the previous version of guidelines it was stated that “positive reputation from a consensus of experts” would help distinguish between two High quality pages and help give an overall PQ score as Highest. This version actually goes on a little further and states that even a Medium quality page could receive an overall PQ score of High if it has the necessary positive reputation from industry experts.
Gaining a positive reputation can differ depending on the industry you are in, but the guidelines do state that a very positive reputation can be gained through prestigious awards or recommendations from known experts or professional societies in your niche. On those areas where less formal expertise is required then other determining factors will include popularity, user engagement and user reviews.
If you are looking for a full copy of the guidelines then you can download it here – Google Search Quality Guidelines v5.0