Google’s been a dominating force in the search engine market for nearly two decades. Learn how Google identifies quality content and how to create high-performing content that aligns with Google's guidelines.
To Google, Quality is The Real King
To some, “content is king.” To Google, “quality content is king”.
Google’s been a dominating force in the search engine market for nearly two decades. With over 80% of the market share, it’s clearly the search engine of choice for the majority of the world. Long gone are the days of asking jeeves or trying to remember how to spell yahooligans.
One hang up that search engines have faced is how to generate revenue as a platform free to users. Google turned to monetizing their product through ads but this decision meant they needed to secure a steady stream of searchers to make ads worthwhile to the companies purchasing them. This meant prioritizing high quality standards for the content they serve to ensure a steady stream of users on the platform.
If the quality of the information available begins to suffer, a search engine loses users. It’s no longer viewed as the source of truth where any question can be answered accurately. The importance of not losing visitors becomes evident when you consider the $224 billion Google generated in 2022 from ads alone.
To some, “content is king.” To Google, “quality content is king”.
How Google Identifies Quality Content
Through the years, Google’s made several successful efforts to maintain the high standard that retains its users. In 2003, Google implemented the first major algorithm to crack down on the spammy methods marketers and businesses were using to generate clicks to their sites. Ever since, those wanting to rank highly on Google have needed keep up with the latest algorithm updates to ensure their content is considered “quality”.
Essentially, the algorithm created “rules” that help Google sort through the billions and billions of webpages it indexes. These rules help Google sort webpages efficiently by allowing its algorithm to search for certain quality signals when crawling a site. Collectively, the signals are known as ranking factors and there are over 200 of them (that we know of).
If these signals aren’t found or are lacking in some way, Google hesitates to give a website the top spot on its search engine results pages. Ranking a site lower than a site owner had hoped is Google’s way of saying “this content is not good enough”.
Alongside its automated efforts, Google employs a team of auditors known as “search raters” who manually rank sites. Their job is to visit a site and give it a grade according to certain criteria outlined in the Search Quality Raters Guidelines.
The manual ranking process is meant to replicate the experience a typical user would have when visiting a site. Google added this human element in an effort to understand which changes make search more useful. It’s worth noting that Google claims the information collected through this process isn’t directly used when making changes to its ranking factors.
E-A-T: A Guideline for Creating Quality Content
The same guidelines used by these manual raters when scoring sites can be used by content strategists to improve the quality of the content they’re creating. One notable guideline is Expertise, Authoritativeness, & Trustworthiness or E-A-T.
E-A-T outlines a few key criteria that improve a site visitor's trust in the information presented:
The expertise of the creator.
The authoritativeness of the creator and the website itself.
The trustworthiness of the creator.
These guidelines are important to consider for all types of sites. However, Google has been known to crack down harder on websites that impact a person’s health or wallet. Websites with financial or medical advice should be especially weary of offering content that does not follow E-A-T guidelines.
3 Tips for Creating High E-A-T Content
So how exactly can a site ensure its content is adhering to E-A-T guidelines? A good foundation can be achieved by following 3 straightforward tips.
Site visitors want to know that they can trust the information they’re reading. Being transparent with the level of expertise a company or particular author has with a certain topic can generate trust.
Here’s a few practical places on a website to convey expertise:
Author bios that convey the writer’s experience or expertise
Author titles or certifications in bylines (Dr., D.O., CFP, etc.) if applicable
Citing reliable sources when presenting important information
Clearly communicating a point goes a long way when establishing expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. A poorly written piece of content does more than confuse a reader. It also instills a sense of distrust.
If a reader struggles to understand the direction or purpose of an article, their opinion of the author, and the site as a whole, will be negatively impacted.
Here’s a few ways to communicate effectively:
Using informative, logical heading structure throughout an article
Writing sentences that are clear and utilize proper grammar
Providing simple explanations when presenting complex information
More often than not, simply being a good writer can establish trust with a reader.
Information is constantly changing. In the financial industry, for example, legislation or a volatile economy can affect the accuracy of an article written just a few months ago. Some information is “evergreen” (meaning it stays relevant and accurate for longer periods of time). Highly topical information, such as news, may change more frequently.
It’s important to create a governance system for the content on a website to prevent your readers from digesting outdated information. Inaccurate information immediately creates a sense of distrust. A reader is left to assume the author or company offering the content is negligent and possibly no longer an expert in the area they’re writing about.
Here’s a few ways to convey trust:
Reviewing and updating important articles monthly or quarterly
Updating the date of publication after making edits to the content
Adding a disclaimer at the top of an article that explains why the information presented is no longer relevant
Updating cited sources/links throughout the article that are no longer live or relevant
Create Quality Content You’d Want to Consume
Guidelines and criteria provide us with tangible strategies we can use when creating content. But sometimes, we get so caught up in following the guidelines to appease Google that we lose sight of the most important reader of our content: real humans.
Instead of creating content for the sake of following the rules, create content that serves the needs and wishes of the reader seeking the information you have. Make sure that their experience reading the article leaves them feeling satisfied, informed, and delighted by the content you shared. Keeping that point in mind while you strategize or write will ensure you adhere to E-A-T guidelines with little effort.
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