While everyone knows about the existence of Google’s Search Quality Raters Guidelines that it has published in a 168-page document, few SEO beginners have had the appetite to go through it and understand what it is all about. As the guidelines are quite important, it calls for a basic primer that covers the scope of the guidelines, how it can affect search, and an explanation of the E-A-T concept so that SEO newbies can use it in their SEO implementations.
Search Quality Raters Guidelines – What Do They Cover?
This is a document that has been prepared by Google to act as a manual for the people it employs to rate websites. They outline the principal conditions and elements raters need to consider and the process of rating websites. For those who may not be in the know, Google hires several thousand people to rate how good or bad websites are according to several parameters. The interesting thing to note is that while the rating of a specific website does not impact its ranking in the search results, they have a larger impact inasmuch the rankings of all websites are affected.
Areas of Focus by Google
As per the guide, Google says that raters work on various rating projects and while the General Guidelines primarily focus on two types of ratings, Page Quality and Needs Met, the basic concepts are also important for other rating tasks.
Requirement Met: Raters essentially evaluate a website, a webpage, or even all the results on the search results page across multiple parameters. Google then aggregates data from multiple raters to make changes in its algorithm to incorporate common signals driving good ranks. The rating is based on both the search query and the result and requires good Page Quality. The interpretation is also important because many queries may have several possible meanings. This means raters need to give more weight to webpages that satisfy higher search intents.
Page Quality: The ratings depend on several factors, all of which are connected. The weight given to each factor is again based on both the type of the query as well as the type of website. The guidelines mention the following important ones:
· Your Money or Your Life (YMYL): These are websites that according to Google can “potentially impact a person’s future happiness, health, financial stability, or safety.” For these websites, raters are instructed to give more weight to E-A-T or Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. Typically, E-A-T websites include sites covering:
News and current events: Includes subjects like business, politics, international events, science and technology, but excludes lifestyle, sport, entertainment, etc. that are not considered as important.
Civics, government, and law: Websites carrying content informing citizens on vital governance and legal information, including public institutions, government agencies, social services, legal issues, etc.
Finance: Information or advice regarding investments, retirement planning, taxes, insurance, banking, loans, as well as websites facilitating the online purchase of financial products or money transfer.
Shopping: Websites with content regarding services or information on the purchase or research on products and services, including online shopping platforms!
Health and safety: Sites carrying information or advice regarding medical issues, hospitals, medicines, emergency preparedness, etc.
People groups: Websites focusing on groups of people getting together on any basis, including gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion, age, disability, interests, nationality, and more.
Other: Websites carrying content related to important aspects of the lives of people or relating to major decisions such as fitness and health, nutrition, education, jobs, housing, etc.
· Content Sections
The Google Guidelines classify website contents into three principal categories:
Main content: This is any part of the webpage that helps it to achieve its principal purpose directly.
Supplemental content: While it may not help directly to achieve the main purpose of the webpage, it contributes significantly to good user experience.
Advertisements: These are content or links to content that are displayed on the webpage for the express purpose of earning money for the website owner.
· Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (E-A-T)
Certainly, among the most discussed sections of the Google Guidelines, it is very important not to mistake E-A-T to be a ranking factor even though it is what all raters look out for to assist them in their rating exercise. According to Searchenginejournal.com, “E-A-T does not represent Google algorithm ranking factors.” Even though E-A-T does not form a part of the Google algorithm directly, the algorithm does align with the principles of E-A-T in the end because raters use it to evaluate websites. This effectively means that E-A-T can be used to guide website design, content creation, and external supporting signals even though it can be specifically optimized for.
Expertise: This refers to the skill of the creator of the content of the page being evaluated, not the entire website. The content creator does not have to be an individual, a school or an institution dealing with the subject is liable to get a high score. For example, the expertise of a medical school on the subject of lung cancer would be rated high while content on the subject of living with the disease from the spouse of a person suffering from it would be more credible. Expertise can be inferred from the importance of the website or the credentials of the author. More than anything else, expertise depends on the context and the ability to address the need to be met with competence.
Authority: The overall authority of the content depends on both the authority of the domain and the content. Generally, this would revolve around external signals like the number and quality of inbound links, citations and brand mentions specifically to both the content and the domain.
Trust: Very similar to an authority, though more specific, trust is again evaluated with a combination of the trust of both the content and the domain. The difference between authority and trust is that authority has more to do with the volume of high-quality references while trust is more focused on specific sites and signals.
Google’s Search Quality Raters Guidelines provide a very useful framework for evaluating the value of websites and well as giving SEOs a peek into how the search algorithm factors in information and feedback in aggregate to deliver search results that are more pertinent and useful in fulfilling the search intent of the user. To know more speak to our expert by clicking- digital marketing agency Auckland.