Google first published its search quality rating guidelines to the public in 2013. This is the document used by Search Quality Raters. These are the people who provide feedback to improve Google search. There are regular updates to the search quality rating guidelines. And updates made to the public document when there are significant changes.
In December 2022, Google made significant revisions to these guidelines. This post on Google’s Search Central Blog details all the changes and a link to the public document. One of the most significant changes is adding Experience to the E-A-T acronym. This is now E-E-A-T, short for Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness.
The search quality rating guidelines describe the type of website Google looks for. Human evaluators rate websites based on these guidelines. Then Google compares the human ratings to the ratings of their ranking algorithms. If these ratings do not match, the ranking algorithms might be improved. So while human raters do not determine individual site rankings, they influence them.
Here’s How To Make Sure You Have A Quality Website
According to Google’s search quality guidelines, the following makes a high-quality website:
High-quality pages contain “a satisfying amount of high-quality main content.”
Google looks for different things depending on the type of information. High-quality encyclopedia articles should be factual, accurate, well-written, and comprehensive. High-quality e-commerce content should make it easy to find the products you want. They should also make it easy to buy.
The amount of content needed depends on the page’s topic and purpose. A high-quality page on a broad topic with a lot of available information will have a lot of content. And a more narrow topic will not have as much content.
Well Cared For & Maintained
How often a website should be updated depends on its purpose. All high-quality sites are well cared for, maintained, and updated as needed.
Google encourages quality raters to poke around the website. Raters search for signs that the website is kept up-to-date and running well. All the links should work, and images should load. The content should be added to and updated over time.
A Positive Reputation
A bad reputation has a negative influence on the quality of the website. Google asks website raters to check various review and rating sources. The following help judge a company’s reputation. Ratings by users, BBB, and independent organizations. Articles in the news and magazines, on Wikipedia, blog posts, and forum discussions.
High Level Of Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness (E-E-A-T)
High-quality websites and content need to show enough expertise to be considered trustworthy and an authority on a topic. Google uses the term “expert” for all types of websites. Google also states that they value “everyday expertise” based on real-life experience. A website should not be penalized for not having formal education or training. In December 2022, Google added Experience to expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. Google now wants experience also taken into consideration. Meaning that content is evaluated to consider whether the creator has real-life experience with the topic.
Functional Page Design
Your website should be well-organized and easy-to-use layout. This makes Google happy. More important, it’s helpful to your visitors. The main content should be easy to find. Make sure that the main content is the focus. You don’t want ads and secondary content to distract from the main content. It should be easy to see what elements of the page are ads, either by labeling or page design and layout.
Offer A Satisfying Amount Of Website Information
Ensure your contact information is easily found by visitors. Google wants to see ‘About Us’ and contact or customer service data. Include a phone number, email address, and business address. This is helpful for both Google and your website visitors. Google also likes to see who handles the content and or maintenance of the website.
Keep Your Customers In Mind
Remember to focus on providing plenty of helpful information for your customers. These are the folks that are a good fit for your products and services. By doing this, you’ll be well on your way to having a high-quality website that ranks well on Google.
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Note: this was first published in January 2016. It was after Google’s first big revision to the guidelines in November 2015. It was updated January 2023.