The quality of Google Search is not only controlled by Googlebot, and its algorithmic counterparts; it is also controlled by humans, i.e., Search Quality Evaluators. These special members of Google’s Search Quality Rating Program work on many different types of rating projects such as Page Quality (PQ) and Needs Met (NM). They act as a Google Search user in the locale they are evaluating to ensure the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) return quality results. The new Google Search Quality General Guidelines were released in November 2015, and we’ll provide some insight into what these humans will be looking for when evaluating your website.
It is important to understand these are key factors impacting your organic traffic and ranking within Google Search. And to help you and your business, we’ve broken up the Google Search Quality General Guidelines into a weekly series. In today’s release, we’ll cover these specific areas:
- Part 1: Page Quality Rating Guideline
- What is the Purpose of Your Webpage?
- Can the Evaluator Understand Your Content?
- Can the Evaluator Understand Your Website?
- How Often Do You Maintain Your Website?
- How Good (or Bad) is Your Website’s Reputation?
Are we setting up our businesses for success organically within Google Search? Let’s find out.
Part 1: Page Quality Rating Guideline
For Page Quality (PQ) rating, the evaluators are tasked with a series of questions designed to guide them through the exploration of a landing page and the website associated with the URL they are evaluating. PQ is not one size fits all since websites are not all alike. The goal of the PQ rating is to establish one thing: How well does your landing page achieve its purpose? That is the first thing the evaluator is tasked to do; figure out the purpose of your webpage.
What is the Purpose of Your Webpage?
The Search Quality Evaluator is made aware of these common helpful webpage purposes. It would be wise to keep these in mind as you generate pages for your website:
- Share Information About a Topic
- Share Personal or Social Information
- Share Photos, Videos, or Other Forms of Media
- Express an Opinion or Point of View
- Sell Products or Services
- Allow Users to Post Questions for Other Users to Answer
- Allow Users to Share Files or Download Software
The guidelines go on to explain webpages that could potentially impact the future happiness, health, or wealth of its users. They call them “Your Money or Your Life” or YMYL webpages. Google has very high PQ rating standards for these types of webpages because low quality YMYL webpages have the potential to negatively impact its users’ happiness, health, or wealth. See if your webpage/site falls under this category, and if it does, make sure you provide what you offer and stay on topic with reputable sources:
- Shopping or Financial Transaction Pages
- Financial Information Pages
- Medical Information Pages
- Legal Information Pages
- Other Pages Such As Child Adoption, Car Safety Information, Etc.
Can the Evaluator Understand Your Webpage Content?
Webpage content is then classified into three categories, i.e., Main Content (MC), Supplementary Content (SC), or Advertisements/Monetization (Ads). The Search Quality evaluator will need to be able to distinguish these three different parts of the website in order to understand its purpose. They not only evaluate the webpage itself, they are also instructed to click around and explore the entire website. The Search Quality Evaluators are asked to identify what type of content is behind the tabs and to test out any interactive features within the webpage. How user friendly and informative is your website’s design?
Identifying Your Main Content
Main Content (MC) is considered any part of the webpage that directly assists in achieving its purpose. MC is considered text, images, videos, or other webpage interactive features such as a calculator or games. Even content behind your tabs such as reviews, shipping, and safety information are also considered MC. The content must be user generated content as the evaluator is instructed that a webmaster directly creates and/or controls the content. Here is an example of Main Content on a webpage:
Identifying Your Supplementary Content
Supplementary Content (SC) is different from Main Content as it adds to exceptional user experience more than it would directly help the page achieve its purpose. Navigation links are an excellent example of SC because it sends the user to other valuable pages of your website. Here is an example of Supplementary Content on a webpage:
Identifying Your Advertisements/Monetization
Advertisements/Monetization (Ads) is completely different from Main Content and Supplementary Content because it may not be text, images or video created by you or the webmaster. However, you or the webmaster is responsible for the overall quality of the Ads displayed. Google considers these as a form of Ads:
- Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising
- Cost-Per-Impression Advertising
- Banner Advertising
- Affiliate Programs
- Data Monetization
- Paid Membership Programs
If you do not monetize your website, the evaluator is instructed not to base a high or low quality rating on the absence (or presence) of Ads. Here is an example of Advertisements/Monetization on a webpage:
Identifying All Parts of Your Webpages Together
Let us reiterate all the important elements that create a webpage for evaluation. Main Content (MC) plays a huge role in Page Quality (PQ) as it must directly help the webpage achieve its purpose. Supplementary Content (SC) assists the webpage in improving its purpose. Advertisement/Monetization (Ads) is utilized for the sole purpose of making money off the webpage. Since website maintenance and publishing content costs money, you might want to reconsider using Ad Blockers to continue the trend of receiving valuable content for free.
Customer/client reviews can be considered MC or SC, therefore the evaluator is instructed to identify the MC and the Ads for an accurate determination of the SC. Here is an example of all three webpage elements together:
Can the Evaluator Understand Your Website?
Page Quality (PQ) is not just based on the webpage itself. PQ also considers the website the webpage belongs to as the Search Quality Evaluator is instructed to research information about it, too. They are instructed to review the reputation of the website from outside, independent sources to discover any disagreements. They are instructed to lean towards the independent source while evaluating the PQ. How is your website’s online reputation, and is it up to snuff?
Can the Evaluator Easily Access Your Homepage?
Everything about a website can usually be found on the homepage. If the evaluator is given one of your URLs to evaluate, how easily can they access the homepage? Does your logo click to the homepage? Do you have a navigation tab called “Home” that leads to the homepage? In our case, our logo is clickable to the homepage since our homepage has everything about Cyberlicious, Inc.
Who’s Responsible for Your Website and Who Created the Content?
Your website must have a clear understanding of who it belongs to, and who creates the content as the evaluator is asked:
- Who is responsible for the website, i.e., what individual, company, business, foundation, etc.?
- Who created the content on the page being evaluated, i.e., what individual, company, business, foundation, etc.?
You can ensure your website meets these criteria by having a “contact us” or “about us” webpage. Keep in mind an individual is not considered responsible for the content on a company website even though many individuals contribute to creating and maintaining the content. If this is the case, the company or organization is deemed responsible for maintaining the website while the evaluator is instructed to look for authors or creators of the webpage(s). An example of this is your Facebook business page. Facebook is not actually responsible nor do they control the content posted to your business page.
Obviously, if you are a single blogger and maintain your own website, the “who” would be you. Create a page about you and the intensions for your website to ensure the Search Quality Evaluators know you are responsible. If you allow Guest blogging just ensure your authors are well indicated within the article they publish. If you publish syndicated or licensed content, the evaluators are instructed to consider the website the content is published responsible even though it was not created by the website owner. This is why it is wise to moderate all content added to your website including forum discussions.
How Descriptive is Your About, Contact, or Customer Service Information?
The types and amount of contact information required depends on the type of website. If you are a store, bank, credit card company, etc. it is extremely important to have customer service information. Your customers need a way to ask questions or request assistance for any problems they are experiencing. If you own a shopping website it’s highly recommended to include store policies on payments, exchanges, and returns. The evaluators are instructed to be a detective, and if they do not find any of this information, your website could be hit with a low PQ rating. Use your best judgement as this information is not required unless your website is the type this information should reside.
How Often Do You Maintain Your Website?
The Search Quality evaluator is instructed to “poke around” the website to ensure it’s maintained for all web browsers. As these browsers update to new versions, your website needs to be maintained to ensure everything renders correctly. They will test to ensure your links still work, images load properly, and content is added and updated over time. The evaluator will use caution when relying on dates as they are instructed to find evidence that shows your website is current and running smoothly.
The types of updates required will rely heavily on the type of website. News websites will obviously update more frequently. Informational websites may not change as often, but if the information itself changes then the website needs to be updated to reflect this new information. If your information is outdated, it would most likely lead to a low PQ rating.
How Good (or Bad) is Your Website’s Reputation?
Your website’s reputation is based on the experience of real users. It could also be based on the opinion of experts in the topic of your website. Of course the people working on your website have no problem raving about how great it is; however, outside, independent sources are the bread and butter of your PQ rating. As mentioned in the “Can the Evaluator Understand Your Website?” section, if the independent sources disagree with your website, the evaluator is instructed to trust the outside sources which leads to a low PQ rating. They will not only research the reputation of your website, but also the reputation of your company, organization or other entity. Therefore, reputation research will apply to your website and your business.
How Is Reputation Research Conducted for Your Website?
The Search Quality Evaluator is going to research what real users and experts have to say about your website or the information in it. They will look for references, reviews, recommendations by experts, news articles, and other credible information. For ecommerce websites, they will look for user ratings. If there are a large number of positive user ratings, it’s evidence to them that the store has a very high positive reputation. For publishing or service provider websites, they are most likely to look for journalistic or service awards the company has earned. If there is a high level of authoritativeness or expertise required, they are instructed to find what experts have to say. Professional societies are a place they will look for recommendations from expert sources regarding your authoritative website.
What Sources are Used for Reputation Information?
The evaluator will look for information written by a human being, not machine-compiled information or statistics. These sources named in the Google Search Quality General Guidelines 2015 should be utilized to build your brand’s reputation to assist in earning a high Page Quality rating:
- News Articles
- Wikipedia Articles
- Blog Posts
- Magazine Articles
- Forum Discussions
- Rating from Independent Organizations
- Independent, Credible Sources
Information can also be found on your website that is not related to its reputation. If you have a webpage that displays Internet traffic, this information does not provide any evidence whether the reputation is negative or positive. They will ignore this information as it’s not helpful for the PQ rating.
How Can You Search for Your Reputation Information?
If you would like to quickly research the reputation of your website, type these commands into Google Search:
Cyberlicious, Inc. -site:cyberliciousinc.com is a search for our company excluding webpages from www.cyberliciousinc.com.
“cyberliciousinc.com” -site:cyberliciousinc.com is a search for our domain excluding webpages from www.cyberliciousinc.com.
YourCompanyName reviews -site:YourDomain.com
Cyberlicious, Inc. reviews -site:cyberliciousinc.com is a search for reviews on Cyberlicious, Inc.
“YourDomain.com” reviews -site:YourDomain.com
“cyberliciousinc.com” reviews -site:cyberliciousinc.com is a search for reviews on our domain excluding webpages from www.cyberliciousinc.com.
Cyberlicious, Inc. site:bbb.org is a search on a specific website for information on Cyberlicious, Inc. In this case, we searched the Better Business Bureau’s (BBB’s) website.
cyberliciousinc.com site:bbb.org is a search on a specific website for information on www.cyberliciousinc.com. In this case, we searched the Better Business Bureau’s (BBB’s) website.
The evaluator is told if they find high ratings on the Better Business Bureau (BBB) website, it could be due to very little information on the business itself not because of a positive reputation. However, if they find low ratings on the BBB, it means the company or website they are evaluating may have some unresolved customer complaints. This would definitely lead to a low PQ rating. When you run any of these commands, look for articles, reviews, forum posts, discussions, and other things written by people about your website or company. Go try those commands yourself, and see what everyone says about you and your business.
What Happens When No Reputation Information is Found?
If the evaluator does not find any reputation information on your website or company, it is not an indicator for a negative or even positive reputation. If you are a small, local business or community organization, they understand you may have a small web presence. Therefore, your business’s lack of online reputation is not considered an indication for a low PQ.
What’s Up Next for the Google Search Quality General Guidelines?
While you evaluate your main content, supplementary content and ad placement/relevance, we’ll be working on the week 2 release of our in-depth look at the Google Search Quality General Guidelines. We’ll explain what Google considers High to Highest Page Quality (PQ) ratings, and whether Google Search will E-A-T your website. That is, does it have Expertise-Authoritativeness-Trustworthiness? You’ll find out!