First of all, what is the Google “Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines” and why is it so important to web design and SEO?
One little known fact about Google is that they employ an army of over 10,000 Search Quality Evaluators that manually check the quality of Google’s organic search engine results.
These independent contractors are not highly trained engineers – in most cases, they are ordinary people and consumers – just like you and me.
In order to train these search quality evaluators, Google provides (and updates) a detailed handbook that explains in simple terms what it’s looking on a website and web page in order to determine the quality of results.
In other words, it’s the mission of these evaluators to manually check if their ranking algorithms are delivery the accuracy and quality of results that they are intended to.
Think about that for a minute.
Once I read the update to this document, I immediately re-designed this website to meet the new guidelines. My traffic and conversion rates exploded.
– Phil Singleton
If the goal is to improve your site’s visibility and SEO in order to grow your business, doesn’t it make sense to understand what criteria Google values the most and to tailor your website to leverage it?
What (and where) is the Google Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines Handbook?
This 160-page handbook is a summary of the criteria that Google’s contract evaluators use to assess the quality of its search results. It’s a little different from how Google understands how a page uses SEO tactics to leverage SERP position. It’s more about the criteria that these evaluators apply to determine the overall “quality” and ultimately user experience of a page.
Why Does it Matter?
This set of guidelines helps us to understand what it is the Google algorithms are looking for, which can help you modify your content to address their priorities. The higher quality your page, according to Google, the greater the chance that you’ll be more highly ranked. The takeaway here is that you are better off, for a number of reasons, to write for your visitors than you are to write for search engines.
Does Your Site Have Google’s E-A-T?
Google’s in-house evaluators place a great deal of importance on how reputable a site is. After all, if the name of the game is providing the best in user experience, wouldn’t they want to direct users to sites with solid reputation?
To break that down- how do they qualify a “good” reputation? They rely on the acronym EAT (Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness). For one thing, they are looking for sites with information from known industry experts. Have you been able to establish yourself as an authority or an expert on your given subject? Do you link back to other recognizable experts? They also assess whether or not a site is deemed trustworthy.
To determine this, evaluators rely on things like BBB ratings and customer reviews. If a company receives consistently low BBB ratings and bad customer reviews, this is a major flag for the trust component.
Does Your Website Meet Google’s Quality Standards?
Again, Google’s focus is to ensure that users have a good experience. Part of that has to do with the quality of the site. Are pages thoughtfully laid out and graphically appealing? Are there sensible headings and sub-menus? Are supplemental resources supportive to the brand or to enhance the user experience or are they distracting? Is there an opportunity for clients to share feedback or interact with each other? Is the site entertaining or informative? Are there different forms of media for visitors to access? Are visitors able to download items?
Google frowns upon sites that are keyword stuffed or filled with spammy content, which lowers the quality for the user.
Some other things that Google likes are having an About Us page and proper website maintenance.
Is You Site Mobile Friendly?
Given that so many users are accessing sites via mobile devices, Google places emphasis and value on whether or not a site is mobile-friendly. How well does your site meet mobile needs? Google assess how satisfied a mobile user would be after using your site and ranks your site accordingly.
Your Money or Your Life
Your Money or Your Life (YMYL) are lifestyle pages (i.e., shopping or financial, medical and legal pages). Google ranks this very highly because of what’s at stake if a user were to get bad information on any of these topics. Safety and security are paramount in this group as well.
Google has high expectations for this page group. To create quality pages in this group, you need to make good use of the criteria used to establish trust and good reputation we referred to earlier.