You don’t need to know every detail about how Google ranks its search results. But there are some important concepts you should.
With over 150 pages of evaluation criteria, Google’s Search Quality Information Guide is not the easiest manual to read. Inside it are the guidelines for Google’s page quality evaluators to follow (I love this kind of transparency). If you don’t have the time or patience to read it, then this article should give you a little insight into Google search results.
What Is the Purpose of Your Site?
Google’s page quality analyst considers everything on your website to give it a quality rating. Google considers high quality pages to be based upon their purpose. What is a page’s purpose:
Provide a forum for discussion.
Download software and apps.
The entire website supports the page’s purpose. Same goes for the pages supporting the website content. These build a website’s reputation that comes from credible, independent information, such as news articles, Wiki pages or blogs. Customer reviews and independent organizations, like the Better Business Bureau, also contribute to the reputation. Some are scrutinized more than others, but they do check them all, which is something to consider when using links to credible sources.
Now, what’s in a Reputation?
The acronym E-A-T (Expertise – Authoritativeness – Trustworthiness) plays a major role evaluating reputation. Is the source an expert? Are they an authority on the subject? How trustworthy is this information? All of these are judged on a scale of lowest-to-highest. These are the basis for your reputation and lead to your Google search ratings.
A great example of reputation can be found in an organization, such as the Mayo Clinic, where they offer medical advice. They will have some of the highest quality ratings, because of their expertise and resources. As a matter of fact, anyone in the medical industry who has reputable certifications will get high marks, because they are experts. Their reputation is built on their expertise.
What if you’re not an Expert? You don’t need graduate degrees or certifications to be an expert in your field. Google values your “everyday expertise” to grade the quality of your pages. This makes sense, right? It’s about being a trusted authority.
Authoritative and Trustworthy
Even if you are an expert, Google needs to verify it through credentials and the research cited on the topics reported. These give the expert more authority on the subjects they write about, because their writing is being supported through other trustworthy sources. It confirms the credibility of the writer.
Google also relies heavily upon trustworthiness. Online shopping sites need to be secure in order to be considered as trustworthy. Plus, trustworthiness is also about the writer. Journalistic professionalism and published editorial policies are two criteria for trustworthiness. They also look at the cited sources to see if they are trustworthy. They want to know if the page and the site can be trusted.
Let’s bring it all together
Here are the most important things Google evaluators will look for:
Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness
Content Quality and Amount
Reputation of the source
Low Quality Pages
Google considers websites to have low quality pages when they:
Are not written by an expert.
Are poorly written.
Have distracting ads.
Do not have enough content to support the purpose.
Shocking titles that don’t match the content.
Pages slapped together.
Again, we see purpose at the top. Content needs to describe the purpose of the website right away or else it may suffer the consequences of a low rating. Grammatical errors, poor punctuation, and factual inaccuracies add to low quality content. Too many ads can be distracting, and broken or expired links are confusing.
What Can Small Businesses Do?
Because reputation is a major criteria, small businesses have a huge roadblock. Fortunately, their lack of reputation is not the only consideration for page quality. Small businesses can increase their quality ratings through authoritativeness on what they do. They need to act present themselves as experts in their field and write frequently about the topics they know and love. This requires thoughtful writing about subjects tied to the purpose of the site and to outside authorities on the topics (Here’s some help if you’re not a writer).
Trustworthiness depends upon the features within the site, the content itself and how it’s presented, as well as frequency of updates. Always remember that a trusted source is safe to view and consistent. Any small business website can E – A – T. It just takes time to be considered a quality page for Google. I have seen it work and you can, too. I’d love to hear any questions or comments you may have. Please leave them below or send me an email.
Writer. Editor. Project manager. Researcher. Collaborator. Graduate of the Spalding University Masters in Fine Arts with an emphasis in Fiction. Theory junkie. Avid reader. University of Iowa (BA '97).
Michael's unique ability is to understand and write to the audience for any business application or ghostwriting project. It's his passion for writing that keeps him learning more-and-more every year. He is a member of the Association of Writing Professionals, and fully versed in Associated Press (AP) and American Psychological Association (APA) writing guides.