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:
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:
…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.
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.
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:
…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.
Interesting read! It seems that in the big scheme of thing, nothing much has changed. Google is still trying to differentiate the most quality content from the pack.
If a business has an eye on profitability in the long run, they should be employing best-practice from the start. Actively trying to dupe the system may find you short term gains, however, in the long run your likely to get found out, have to revisit your site setup/structure (among other things) and consiquently incure the associated costs… Better to fix things as early as possible.
Yes, someone trying to game the system WILL be caught eventually. The time, money and effort it would take to try and undo the damage wouldn’t be worth it; one may as well get a new domain and start from scratch.
Thank you for sharing, Kieran!
Awesome sauce. I’ve find myself educating new clients too often. Your article fills the bill in several ways.
The final point is particularly apt in my field. So many clients want keyword stuffing! What they need is great copy or content. As Guy Kawasaki pointed out so succinctly, “Write.Good. Shit.”
Unless the words on a site rivet the reader in place,visitors will go elsewhere to buy or learn. The minute they see that a piece was written to satisfy an algorithm and not them–and it’s easy to do because the cadence and rhythm (the musicality)of a piece can go ka-flooey with keyword stuffing as often as not–it’s “Bye-bye, buster!” And they won’t come back later to see if a site got any better.
Absolutely, Kris! Thank you for sharing.
Good article. When I was new to the whole seo thing, the guys I were working for were obsessed with keyword stuffing and I remember thinking it was insulting to the reader and people would see through it. Now here we are!
Those are people living in the SEO dinosaur age! Thanks for sharing, Simon!