With all of the changes that happen on a regular basis in the digital marketing field, one constant is the importance for your website to rank high within the search engine’s organic results areas.
At times organic ranking can seem like smoke and mirrors. Part of the problem is that there has never been a document created by the search engines that tell you, specifically, what to do to get top rankings. There are some things that we know for sure that come from guidelines that are offered by the search engines. First, we know that in Google’s case, there are over 200 criteria that impact their algorithm.
Of all of those criteria, we know that the quality of the information on your website pages is essential. Google considers the content to be representative of the “quality” of a website. In fact, Google feels that quality is so important that they have developed guidelines for a website’s quality.
Search Quality Raters
Search Quality Raters are people that Google contracts with all over the world (over 10,000 people). Google tells us that these raters assist Google in evaluating websites. All of these raters are given guidelines to follow when they are determining the quality of a website.
As you can imagine, the guidelines for this determination of quality can be quite extensive. In fact, the document containing these guidelines is 168 pages long.
Rest assured that we have no interest in covering every word of this document. Instead, our goal, today, is to review how these guidelines and the quality that they’re designed to score will have an impact on your ability to drive traffic to your website and consequently improve your business.
Google tells us that these quality guidelines “cover the most common forms of deceptive or manipulative behavior…”. The basic tenants of a “quality” website are:
- Create the content of your website for the people coming to your website, not for the search engines.
- Don’t use deceptive tactics to try to “game the system”.
- Just like your brand, make your website stand out. Use your Unique Value Proposition to differentiate your website from your competitors.
But, let’s get back to these quality raters. What is it that they are looking for when/if they visit your site?
There is an acronym that these raters use when they are looking at a website page for quality. The acronym is E-A-T. It stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. Let’s unpack this to examine what they mean for the content that you put on the pages of your website.
How much of an expert are you on the topic that is on your website page? Does the content on your website page demonstrate your expertise? It’s important to demonstrate your knowledge and experience on the topic that your website pages are talking about.
Expertise is judged only on the content of a page. It is not judged within the context of the entire website.
This is important for a good quality score, but it is also important to get the people that are visiting your website to “take action” on what they are reading. It’s important to note that the primary purpose of a website is to improve your business. Search engine rankings are simply a tool to use to make that happen.
Unlike Expertise, Authoritativeness looks at the content on a page within your website, just like Expertise, but then it also looks at the full context of the domain that the page is in.
This means that Authoritativeness is judged based on things like backlinks to both your website and an individual website page. It will most likely include things like the link quality of those backlinks, as well.
Like the Authoritativeness portion of quality, Trust is a combination of a page within a website in addition to the entire domain of the website.
To determine trustworthiness Google’s quality raters will look for signs of a good brand reputation for your company. Some of the things that Google directs their quality raters to look for in determining trustworthiness are sources of reputation information or reviews such as Yelp, BBB, Google Shopping, Amazon, etc.
Again, this, including trustworthiness information within your website, will not only help with the quality of your site as it pertains to your search engine rankings but more importantly, it will significantly increase the odds of getting visitors to your website to “take action” and improve your business.
If your website is a low-quality site you are never going to see the results from your online efforts that you should be receiving for two reasons:
- your not going to show up in the search results, so you’re not going to get traffic to your site
- the people that do stumble upon your website are not going to “take action” because they either can’t understand your brand or they won’t trust you so they’ll just leave your site.
Unfortunately, too often, the content of a website is a second thought, coming behind the looks of the site. The content of your site is the single most crucial element to your website and needs to be a primary focus of your online effort.