In November 2015 Google completed a major revision to their search quality rating guidelines which is publicly available here.
The search quality rating guidelines describe the type of website that Google is looking 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 have an indirect influence.
According to Google’s quality guidelines, the following makes a high quality website:
High Quality Content
High quality pages are pages that contain “a satisfying amount of high quality main content”.
According to Google, high quality encyclopedia articles should be factual, accurate, clearly written, and comprehensive. High quality shopping content should allow you to find the products you want and to purchase the products easily.
The amount of content necessary for the page to be satisfying depends on the topic and purpose of the page. A high quality page on a broad topic with a lot of available information will have more content than a high quality page on a more narrow topic.
Well Cared For & Maintained
How frequently a website should be updated depends on its purpose. However, all high quality websites are well cared for, maintained, and updated appropriately.
Google encourages the quality raters to poke around: links should work, images should load, content should be added and updated over time; to search for evidence that effort is being made to keep the website up to date and running smoothly.
A Positive Reputation
If a website has a bad reputation, this has a negative influence on the quality of the website. Google says that website raters should check user ratings, BBB ratings, news articles, Wikipedia articles, blog posts, magazine articles, forum discussions, and ratings from independent organizations to judge the reputation of a company.
High Level Of Expertise/Authoritativeness/Trustworthiness
High quality pages and websites need enough expertise to be authoritative and trustworthy on their topic. The term “expert” can be used for websites of all types, including gossip websites, fashion websites, humor websites, etc.
Google explicitly states that they also value “everyday expertise” that is based on life experience. A website should not be penalized for not having formal education or training.
Functional Page Design
Your website should be well-organized and have a functional overall layout. The main content should be prominently displayed and it should be clear what the main content is.
Ads and secondary content should not distract from the main content. It should be clear what parts of the page are ads, either by explicit labeling or simply by page organization or design.
Offer A Satisfying Amount Of Website Information
Do not hide your contact information. Google wants to see ‘About Us’ information, contact or customer service information and, if necessary, information about who is responsible for the content and maintenance of the website.
Keep Your Customers In Mind
Remember, when you focus on providing plenty of helpful information for folks that are a good fit for your products and services, you’ll be well on your way to having a high quality website that ranks well on Google.
Do you have questions about Google’s guidelines? Would you like support for your website? Webb Weavers Consulting based in Ventura, CA can help! Contact Debbie today to schedule a website consultation.