Google Sets New Standards: Violate Them at Your Own Risk!
Many believe there are too many websites for Google to actually “eyeball” their site – they would be wrong. Google has a team who looks at websites and decides what rank they deserve. This is known as Page Rank. Well, Google is tightening the noose on websites once again and has set new standards – and you best be careful, violate them at your own risk.
Google has a guide they provide this team, which dictates HOW they rank your site. It’s titled Google’s Search Quality Evaluation Guideline. While it’s pretty extensive (160 pages long) I wish to touch on a few of the important points which will decide the success of your site, SEO-wise (Search Engine Optimization). The points I share here address on-page SEO, what you do to make sure Google’s happy with your website; not off-page SEO, other strategies used to try and push a website up the rankings.
So let’s take a look at:
- User Experience
- Expert Writers (E.A.T.)
- Your Money Your Life (YMYL) Pages
- Keyword Stuffing
First, the Aesthetics
As I am fond of saying, if your website doesn’t pass the smell test (I know, bad metaphor), it will not be effective. In other words, if the user experience isn’t satisfying:
- The site is well balanced
- Clean and attractive design
- Easy to navigate
- Colors used well
- Images well-chosen and have impact
- Site is responsive and adjusts for tablets and smartphones
- The right balance of information in plain view
- Additional information hidden in plain view for easy access
…your visitor will just move on. Google knows this as well and has made it a criterion in your page rank (page 20 in the guide). This includes ensuring your content is high-quality, original (no scraping off other’s content) and abundant.
You want to make sure your website looks darn good, provides a pleasing experience and makes people WANT to not only be there, but read the information provided.
From Verified Authorship to Expert Writer (E.A.T.)
The first step in ratcheting up quality by Google occurred a few years ago with their “Verified Authorship” program. In essence, since they have Google-Plus and your account issues you a 21-digit ID, by having one embed it on their blog and website, when one posted their blog to Google-Plus, the dots were connected. They could tell, with relative accuracy, who wrote the article. Then they raised the standards on the quality of the articles. Matt Cutts wrote in Google’s blog that an article had to be at the level of what one would submit to a magazine.
Now they’ve created a new standard called E.A.T. (because they will eat your lunch if you don’t meet the standard), which stands for Expertise/Authoritativeness/Trustworthiness. You can find this in section 4.3, page 21 of the guide. In a nutshell, what this means is that a website will be ranked by whether or not the author of the content qualifies as an expert in the topic.
This does not mean that everyone must hold some sort of certification in whatever they do (for the YMYL pages, it does – more on this later). It simply means they can write on the topic from a position of authority. For example, I have a friend who chairs a non-profit organization for special-needs children, called Mr. Strong Foundation. Michelle is NOT a medical professional; however, she’s lived with her special-needs son, and has had to learn the processes of acquiring and providing for him. Therefore, Michelle may not be an expert on autism or cerebral palsy, but she is an expert on being a caretaker for a special-needs child.
So ensuring that whatever qualifies you for what you’re promoting is made apparent in the “About” page will be crucial. Testimonials and reviews supporting your proficiency would be a big boost.
Your Money, Your Life (YMYL)
Google has a higher categorization for pages which affect one’s quality of life. Therefore, if the advice given is of a legal, medical, health, beauty, technical (or any other category that provides a quality-of-life service), or sells something—separates one from his or her money—it falls under the Your Money Your Life (YMYL) criterion (section 2.3, page 9 in the guide).
On these sites or pages, Google applies a very high standard of E.A.T. Not only must the author be considered a verifiable expert, but he or she must constantly update the content as new information becomes available. Failure to do so will earn the lowest-quality ranking.
This is where I still have people living in the past. I get many clients who insist on writing content based on keywords and trying to use the keyword as often as possible. While this tactic worked in the past, it won’t today.
Now, this doesn’t mean you don’t add your keywords to your header along with your meta-description (which is the proper way); however, writing an article or content with the intent of using a set of words repeatedly will not only lose you readers, but makes Google stigmatize you with the lowest ranking possible (section 7.4.2, page 43 in the guide).
The best practice is to write an article with an intended message and let it flow naturally. If you write for the audience, delivering the best information and quality possible, not only will your readers reward you, but so will Google.
So remember your website is your marketing hub. No matter what you do for promotion, everyone eventually lands on it to make a buying a decision. Therefore, if your website controls so much:
- Your message and branding
- Is your store front to the world
- Captures the identity of your visitors, so you can build a marketing database you own
- And decides whether Google helps or hurts your efforts
…make sure you do it right. Time is going to pass regardless; so why not get something FROM it, by doing it properly, rather than just getting through it.
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