Google has completely rewritten their guidelines for manual rating of websites. This document was accidentally leaked. In this post we do our best to breakdown this massive document into an easily digestible post. The information, although general, is very valuable for determining what is needed to be successful in search engine optimization.
EAT is a New Concept to Live by
The rating guide focuses heavily on the Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness. When a manual reviewer feels the website does not live up to these expectations, they get a low score. When they do, they get a high score. In this same section Google warns about websites that have contributed content such as article submission sites, forums or guest blogs. Google only wants to see user generated content that offers a high level of expertise.
While EAT (Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness) is important, Google does stress that there are many different kinds of experts, and this ranges from industry to industry. Google asks that rates take into account YMYL principals.
It should be noted that a large part of these manual reviewers’ jobs is to analyze the knowledge graph. This shows that Google is placing more emphasis on this content. In this section, Google mentions Title Link Result Blocks (TLRB) and No Title Link Result Blocks (NTRB). This is the concept that some of the Knowledge Graph returns direct answers to questions, while other portions do not.
In the Google guidelines it mentions that quality raters should ding websites that have too many low quality ads. We already know there is a page layout algorithm that looks at this, but now, there are also manual reviewers.
Extra Supplementary Content
This point is really interesting. While previously Google reviewers would just look at the content on the page, now they are being asked to look at the supplementary content as well, or the links and references the page provides. If the supplementary content is low quality that is an issue but if they website links and references high quality content, it can mean a ranking boost.
Google talks about bad page design, and states, that pages which try to squeeze extra conversions and advertising clicks based on poor design should get a low rating. As we know, good design and usability is very important for search rankings.
Questions and Answers, but no Answer
Google wants to see websites that actually answer the questions of their users, by an expert. Quality raters are looking for websites that respond to questions and offer expertise.
Inline Advertising Can be an Issue
Inline advertising is the practice of sneaking ads into content. This can be blog posts, social media posts, web pages, etc. Google doesn’t like this as they feel it is deceptive.
Google Hates Affiliates
Website Reputation Matters
Google stresses that websites cannot get a high rating if they have a poor reputation. So think about that for a moment, if you have a negative review that means you will not rank as highly. Google even goes so far as to say that when there is evidence of foul play, such as fraud or malicious acts, they should provide the website with the lower rating possible.
No More Spam and Cloaking
Mentions of spam and cloaking have been removed from this quality rating guide.
Low Quality Pages and Lack of Purpose
In the past, Google would allow low quality pages when there was no content to take their place. Now, Google is stating they would rather see no content at all. Also, when a quality rater finds a page that is just spun gibberish, that page is to get the lowest ranking possible.
Hidden Text is Off the Grid
Hidden text used to be on this list, but now it is gone. I guess the Google algorithm has this handled now.
About us and Contact Info
Google now wants to see about us and contact information on all websites to be considered authoritative.
These new quality rating guidelines are pretty clear. Google wants legitimate, active, well designed websites to rank. The factors they have laid out in their new quality guidelines for the manual review team are clear. When it is all said and done, focus on EAT or your Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness. Furthermore, if you are an ecommerce website, make sure you have your merchant guidelines in order.
- Google Rewrites Quality Rating Guide – What SEOs Need to Know, Jennifer Slegg. July 9, 2013. The SEM Post
- Google Trusted Stores Merchant Guidelines, Google. August 21, 3013
- Hit By Panda and Confused About Low-Quality Content? Run This Google Analytics Report Now, Glenn Gabe. December 18, 2013
- How Usability, User Experience and Content Affect Search Engine Rankings, Rand Fishkin. MOZ. 2014