Search engines deliver page results based on the ranking of your page content. Each website is rated by Search Quality Evaluators (SEQ) to ensure that the content is valuable, trustworthy, and authoritative. Evaluators or Raters are real people that have been assigned the task of rating websites, using two main factors; Page Quality (PQ) and Needs Met (NM). As of 2017, the guidelines are 160 pages long, and you should understand how these guidelines affect your website’s current rating. This post will provide a high-level review of Google’s Quality Rating Guidelines.
Main Content and Supplementary Content
A Page Quality rating will determine how well each page of your website achieves the purpose or intent. The content of each page should help users find what they are searching for when they submit a search through a browser. If the website delivers content in a deceptive manner and attempts to harm the user, the page will receive a low score. The Main Content (MC) of a page can help achieve the purpose, and can include; News, article, shopping, video, currency calculator, blog post, search engine homepage and a blank page for user login.
Supplementary Content (SC) is considered part of the user experience, but may not provide the level of information or detail of Main Content. Supplementary Content can be navigational links that direct a user to another part of the website.
Advertising is a way for the website owner/company to monetize the website through ad networks that post pay-per-click (PPC) ads or Cost Per Impression (CPM) advertising, Affiliate programs, sponsored links, or display ads. According to Google, “ads may contribute to a good user experience.” However, the presence of ads does not contribute to a High or Low rating.
Website ownership should point to the person or company that maintains the website. Companies in the Business-to-Consumer (B2C) and Business-to-Business (B2B) space want you to know who they are, and what they offer in the way of product, service, or solution. Companies may have published content that is copyrighted or trademarked that they want to protect because they have invested money in these legal marks. The company may also have content that is licensed or syndicated, which indicates their named partners. Legitimate companies will include an About Us page that tells the story of their brand, their success and even list their current leadership. Beyond the Contact Us page, a website will have the email address for sales, service, or billing. A local phone number, as well as a toll-free number, will also be listed in the contact section.
It is unlikely that you would post negative reviews, bad customer experiences or negative product ratings on your website for everyone to see. While every company will experience an unhappy customer at some point in time, you don’t want the world to know that story, and you don’t give digital space for people to dog-pile on those stories. Website reputation and authority are derived from other online sources. Raters will look for independent reviews, published articles, recommendation and references to find out what your customers have to say about your company in these forums. The information they locate will apply to your overall website rating.
Factors that Impact your Page Quality Rating
Google Raters consider four different components of your website when assigning a rating.
- Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness: Website content for physicians, lawyers, legal, finance should be written by experts in their respective fields, and the content should be appropriate for each audience. The information should be trustworthy, reputable and will likely have references. High-quality content should contain expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness to help users arrive at a better understanding of the topic.
- Main Content Quality and Amount: Google uses a formula called Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness (E-A-T ) to determine Main Content. For the Main Content to be considered high quality, the information should require time, effort, expertise and talent/skill. If the Main Content does not provide user value, in helping to make a decision, the quality rating will be impacted. Main Content is not opinion-based, it is factual and accurate.
- Website Information/information about who is responsible for the website: Raters should have a clear understanding of who is responsible for managing the website. They will also review areas of your website such as customer service to ensure that your customers can get help when they need it. The website should have obvious links to direct users to that information.
- Website Reputation: A high-quality rating cannot be achieved through a negative reputation. You can control the content on your website, but make sure to monitor social media channels and other websites where users can post negative information. If you don’t follow-up with these customers, you cannot change their perception of your company. In fact, executives should set up a Google Alert that will notify you by email every time your company is mentioned
A Low Rating can be avoided if you invest in your Main Content. A page that does not have enough information or the right elements to help a person can result in a lower rating. Other factors that lead to Low-Quality ratings include;
- Lack of expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness will result in a low rating. If you hire writers, you must verify their sources and references before you publish the content on your site. You also need to check the content for plagiarism. Do not scrape content from other websites.
- Disruptive or distractive advertising. Ads that float over the Main Content are difficult to close and scroll the page as the user consumes content. Prominent ads within Supplementary Content that redirect users to highly monetized pages will result in a Low Rating. Ads that use click-bait headlines in the form of exaggerated titles, images or text can also be considered fake news. Users will only fall for this a few times before they discover they have been deceived and the content is misleading. Deception will result in a low rating and a loss in website traffic.
- Misleading titles that direct users to monetized sites and don’t provide the experience or information the user is trying to find.
- Insufficient or inaccurate information demonstrates the lack of expertise and authority.
- A negative reputation
- Low-Quality Main Content will cause the page to receive a Low-Quality
Improve Your Website and Your Company’s Reputation
It is important to understand how each of these areas can affect the rating of every page within your website. Applying this knowledge will improve the user experience of your website visitors and provide them with the type of information they need. Your website’s reputation stretches beyond the content that you produce, so make it a practice to read and respond to customer reviews that are published on other websites. High-quality content is exactly what your users are searching for, so this is a good time to review each page at the Main Content and Supplementary Content levels. Also, review your ads and their placement to ensure they aren’t disrupting the user experience.
Contact us if you need help to improve website content and reputation.
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