Last week, we discussed in detail how Google’s Search Quality Evaluators identify content throughout your website, how often it’s maintained, and how to research its reputation. This week, we’re going to dive into how you can earn a High to Highest Page Quality (PQ) rating. Feel free to jump to a section that most interests you or take it all in at once by starting from the top.
- Part 1: Page Quality Rating Guideline (continued…)
- What are the Characteristics of the High Quality Pages?
- Does Your Webpage have a Satisfying Amount of High Quality Main Content?
- Will the Evaluator E-A-T Your Website?
- Does Your Website Have a Positive Reputation?
- How Helpful is Your Supplementary Content?
- How Functional is Your Webpage’s Design?
- Do You Have a Satisfying Amount of Website Information?
- How Well Cared For and Maintained is Your Website?
- What are the Characteristics of the Highest Quality Pages?
- What the Evaluator Considers When Rating Your Website?
What are the Characteristics of the High Quality Pages?
The High Quality (HQ) rating is given to webpages that satisfy and achieve their purpose extremely well. In order to receive a HQ rating, your webpage must contain at least one or more of these characteristics depending on the type of website:
- Your Main Content (MC) must have a satisfying amount of high quality.
- Your webpage and website must be an expert, authority, and trustworthy source for the topic.
- Your website must have a good reputation for the topic.
- Your website must have a satisfying amount of website information.
- Your Supplementary Content (SC) must contribute to a satisfying user experience on the webpage and website.
- Your functional webpage design must allow users to easily focus on your MC and use your SC as desired.
- Your website must be well taken care of and maintained.
Does Your Webpage Have a Satisfying Amount of High Quality Main Content?
Understanding what Google is expecting for a satisfying amount of high quality MC will help you earn a high PQ rating. This is one of the most important considerations when determining your PQ rating. To build webpages like these, the evaluator is under the impression that it takes time, effort, expertise, and skill. The evaluator is instructed to examine the MC for a few minutes before declaring its PQ rating. They are instructed to read the article, watch the video, examine the images, play with the calculator, play the game, and do everything your webpage has to offer. Make sure all the functionality within your website works!
Here are some examples of high quality MC to help you gain a general idea of what Google desires to generate high quality SERPs:
- Encyclopedia articles should be factual, accurate, clearly written, and comprehensive.
- Shopping content should allow the customers to find the products they want to purchase easily.
- Humor content should be entertaining and make the evaluator laugh.
If you are covering a broad topic, the evaluator will expect an abundance of valuable information as opposed to a narrow topic.
Will the Evaluator E-A-T Your Website?
Search Quality Evaluators gobble up websites that have a high level of Expertise-Authoritativeness-Trustworthiness (E-A-T). Google explains that high quality pages have a significant amount of expertise to be authoritative and trustworthy regarding its topic. The webpage itself may even be forums and discussions where a community of experts provides respected viewpoints on certain topics. If you want to receive a high PQ rating then ensure you are covering the topic thoroughly, researching multiple sources from other experts in your niche, and invite those experts to chime in on your topic through some sort of forum. This forum could be on your website, Facebook page, Twitter account, etc. Share the link and start a conversation!
Keep in mind, not all topics have to be as formal as the one mentioned above. If you are a very meticulous person providing helpful reviews on products, restaurants, retail stores, etc.; you are considered an expert on those topics based off your life experience. This “everyday expertise” as Google calls it, will not penalize you, the webpage, or website for not having formal education or training on the topic. When you review your webpage, ask yourself, “What kind of experience or expertise does this page require to achieve its purpose well?”
Does Your Website have a Positive Reputation?
We went into depth on how the evaluator determines your website’s reputation in our first overview of the Google Search Quality Guidelines (Link to our first release and its reputation section). Your reputation plays a significant role when determining your PQ rating. If the evaluator determines your website is Medium Quality, your positive reputation could improve your rating to High Quality. It’s extremely important for you to follow these steps on how to research you website’s or company’s reputation. If you discover issues, correct them immediately.
How Helpful is Your Supplementary Content?
SC also plays a significant role for a High Quality rating within Google Search. The famous “You Might Also Like” product feature on eCommerce websites is considered as helpful as a webpage’s MC. Also featuring other makes and models of the same kind of product is considered very satisfying SC. Google also describes that on a recipe website, if there is a feature present to multiply or divide the ingredients to make the right quantity of food for the user to consider this extremely helpful SC.
And remember, a webpage can still receive a High or even Highest Quality (HQ) rating even if it does not have any SC at all. If you do not have any SC, you’re obviously A-OK, however, ensure you’re at least hitting all the other elements that make a HQ rating.
How Functional is Your Webpage’s Design?
The evaluator is looking for a well-organized, effective use of space, and a functional overall layout in your design. Here is a list of characteristics of functional webpages they will be looking for:
- Your MC must be prominently displayed “front and center.”
- Your MC must be immediately visible when a visitor opens the webpage.
- You must make it clear what your MC actually is through the webpage design, organization of the content, use of space, choice of font, font size, background, etc.
- Ads and SC must not distract from your MC, therefore, they must be easily ignorable and easy to find should the user actually want to use them.
- You must make it clear which parts of the webpage are Ads with explicit labeling or by webpage design and its organization.
The evaluator will not just rate the page on how nice it looks. A webpage can be very functional and serve its purpose without having the good looks. A perfect example is Craigslist. The design is not that appealing, but the functionality and purpose of the website is of high quality.
Do You Have a Satisfying Amount of Website Information?
The evaluator is told to frequently expect websites to have this information:
- About Us
- Contact or Customer Service
- Author or Webmaster or Company/Organization
Once the evaluator determines your webpage’s purpose, a High Quality rating will be given to it if the website provides clear and satisfying information for that purpose. The YMYL pages as described last week demand a high degree of trust and require very satisfying website information. However, non-YMYL websites may require far less website information. For instance, an email address may be sufficient enough for High or even Highest Quality pages.
How Well Cared For and Maintained is Your Website?
News websites are expected to be frequently updated since news happens every day. Medical websites are expected to have their information kept current in line with medical research. Small business websites are not expected to be updated frequently since address and store hours rarely change. If you haven’t guessed it already, the frequency a website should be cared for and maintained depends on its purpose. It’s simple. If you want to earn a High Quality rating make sure you website is well cared for, maintained and updated appropriately.
What are the Characteristics of the Highest Quality Pages?
The Highest Quality pages are extremely satisfying as they achieve their purpose extremely well. The distinction between the two, i.e., High vs. Highest Quality, is determined by the quality of MC, the level of E-A-T, and the website’s positive reputation. Google requires at least one of the following:
- Very High or Highest Quality MC, Demonstrating Expertise, Talent, and/or Skill
- Very High Level of Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (Webpage or Website) on the Topic of the Webpage
- Very Good Reputation (Website or Author) on the Topic of the Webpage.
How Can You Achieve the Highest Quality MC?
Google considers the MC of the webpage to be very high or highest quality when it is created with a high degree of time and effort. Not only that, they are expecting it to include expertise, talent and skill. Very high quality MC is expected to be created by experts, hobbyists, or even people with every day expertise. As a reminder, Google’s standards do depend on the purpose of the page and the type of content. The Highest rating may be justified for webpages with a satisfying or comprehensive amount of very high quality MC.
How Can You Achieve the Highest Quality E-A-T?
Google asks the Search Quality Evaluator 3 questions to help determine the Highest Quality Expertise-Authoritativeness-Trustworthiness (E-A-T):
- Who are the experts?
- What makes a source trustworthy for the topic?
- What makes a website highly authoritative for the topic?
The Highest Quality webpages and websites obviously have a very high level of EAT. It is expected to have formal expertise for topics such as legal, financial, or medical advice. However, expertise may be less formal for humor or recipe websites. An example would be a webpage on expertise involving cooking where you find the webpage on a professional chef’s website.
The evaluators are also told to value life experiences and everyday expertise. The expert sources on some topics may come from ordinary people sharing their experience. A well thought out blog entry on your last vacation explaining the do’s and don’ts for that area could be viewed a Highest Quality.
How Can You Achieve the Highest Quality Reputation?
Let’s be honest. It’s humanly impossible to provide 5 star services to every human being on the planet. Some people have bad days and your reviews will reflect them unfortunately. This is why it is extremely important to monitor your reputation online. In order to receive the Highest Quality for your reputation, Google suggests a website must have prestigious awards or recommendations from known experts or professional societies. Wikipedia is suggested as a source for a good starting point for reputation research. Are you or your business on Wikipedia yet?
If you have a website that is less formal like the humor or recipe websites we mentioned, the evaluator is not going to expect you to have prestigious awards. For topics such as these, popularity, reviews, and user engagement can be used as evidence of your reputation. Is your website well-loved and focused on helping others? Then you may receive the Highest Quality reputation rating.
What the Evaluator Considers When Rating Your Website?
Google has the Search Quality Evaluator consider a few things when evaluating your website:
- If the evaluator is struggling between two ratings, they are instructed to choose the lowest one. If you have High Quality rated MC, and Medium Quality rated SC then your PQ rating would be Medium. This is why it’s important for your website to be designed in such a way it receives a High Quality rating all the way around.
- The evaluator will not consider the country or location of your website when determining the PQ rating. Google’s example is if the evaluator is English (US) speaking, they should use the same PQ standards when evaluating other English language websites such as United Kingdom and Canadian websites. The evaluator should not lower the PQ rating because the webpage location does not match their task location.
- The evaluator is expected to use their best judgement when evaluating other things like PDF files or image files such as PNG or JPEG. Some of the considerations within these guidelines simply will not apply to URLs that are not actual webpages. They will rate those pages, and are instructed to leave a comment as to why the page received this rating.
Google’s Top 3 Page Quality Considerations
Google even mentions the top 3 most important PQ considerations for their evaluators:
- Quality and Quantity of MC
- Level of Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (E-A-T) of the Webpage and Website
- Reputation of the Website
These top 3 considerations are in place to help the evaluator rate your webpages. If you would like to receive a High to Highest Quality rating, ensure your website has evidence to support at least one of those top 3 considerations.
Will Google E-A-T Your Webpage or Website or Both?
E-A-T is determined by the webpage itself, the entire website, or both. When a website has multiple authors, webpage level checks for E-A-T are important because it may be a different author for different pages. Then when it comes to website level checks for E-A-T, Google suggests using this for the following situations:
- All the content within the website is generated by the same person or organization.
- The content within the website is generated by multiple authors or organizations, but the website has very active editorial standards.
- The website’s reputation is extremely positive from experts within the industry basically receiving acknowledgement for its E-A-T.
Time to Get to Work!
Based on the information provided within this week’s and last week’s summary of PQ, it’s time to get to work. Take each section, and rock it out to ensure your website can earn the High or Highest PQ rating. We excluded what Google suggests when evaluating Low to Medium PQ webpages/websites because we want you to focus on what makes them the best.
Next week, we’re going to dive even deeper into the Google Search Quality Guidelines to provide a summary on mobile user needs. Desktop use is shrinking while mobile is taking its place. Is your website mobile friendly, and will it pass Google’s evaluations? We’ll find out!