By Jenny Lewin
Google released their General Guidelines on November 12, 2015. And in case you haven’t yet sifted through the long 160-page document, luckily we have you covered.
This is a big deal because it is the first time that the entire Guideline document has been released to the public. A few years ago, 43 pages of the document were released online, but this is the first time that we’ve been able to review the entire document.
The General Guidelines are split up into four major parts: Page Quality Rating Guideline, Understanding Mobile User Needs, Needs Met Rating Guideline, and Using the Evaluation Platform. Each part goes in depth on what a Quality Checker should be looking for while reviewing search queries and websites.
You’re probably wondering, “What is a Quality Checker?” These are search quality raters. They are external people that Google hires to look at and review the quality of what comes up in search. Sounds like your dream job, right?
Their main job is to make sure that the quality of Google’s search engine results are relevant to what the user is looking to accomplish, learn, find, etc.
And as a search marketing professional, it is nice to know that Google has outside people checking the quality of these search results, otherwise, Google’s algorithm could be inaccurate. The benefit of this document release is clear as day: by Google releasing the guidelines that these Quality Checkers follow when evaluating search engine results, we have that much more information on what to do and what not to do when helping our law firm clients have success online.
While this was released in November, our team has taken the time to thoroughly review the document. Below are five GNGF-recommended practices reaffirmed by the Google General Guidelines.
Create High Quality Content
YMYL is an acronym that Quality Checkers use that stands for: Your Money Your Life. It is what they call pages on a website that provide information to readers.
These types of pages include those with legal information, in addition to pages discussing topics like health and wellness, financial information, shopping, and more.
A Quality Checker will look at these pages and decide whether or not they adhere to Google’s guidelines for quality content.
It’s important for these pages to include high quality content because the site’s users will most likely be using that information to directly affect their health or wealth.
What this means for attorneys is that they need to have quality content on their site. Does your site contain relevant information that someone would be searching for? Does it achieve its overall purpose?
A Quality Checker will see if your website content is relevant and useful in regards to certain keywords and search queries. Keeping your site up to date with relevant, useful information will help you pass with flying colors.
Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness
EAT stands for: Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. What this acronym does is help a Quality Checker rate the website as a whole. This is more of a general rating of if it is doing what it is supposed to.
Are you an expert in this subject matter? Do you have a good reputation based on your recommendations, reviews, or other content written about you? Should your readers trust what you have posted on your site? Why? These are all questions that the Quality Checkers want you to consider.
Location, Location, Location
As the guidelines point out, every search query has a task language and a task location. This means that the same query entered from different locations may have a different meaning. For example, in some states a drinking and driving offense is called a DUI. In others, it is termed an OVI. This means that if you are trying to optimize for a certain location, it is crucial that you use the colloquial, location-appropriate term.
Also, when it comes to mobile search, especially for law firms, many people are searching with an Explicit Location, meaning they typed in “personal injury lawyer Dallas” to specify where they need something. The guidelines also mentioned interpretations, as many users will type in the same query, although they could’ve meant a number of
Needs Met Rating
There are several different options for the Needs Met Rating, including the following: Fully Meets, Highly Meets, Moderately Meets, Slightly Meets, and Fails to Meet. These different ratings are given to each query, depending on how specific or broad the query was. For example, typing in “john” would most likely not come up with significant or relevant information for what you are looking to achieve. Typing in “John Mulaney” would be a more specific query, and hopefully, the results and landing pages will be relevant to the comedian. Queries receive these ratings depending on how specific they are to what the user is searching for.
Avoid Spammy Pages
As the guidelines also discuss, low quality pages don’t just refer to design, but to whether or not there is a purpose to it.
A low quality page can be detrimental to your website. One example of a low quality page is one that allows “phishing.” To “phish” is to, essentially, steal someone’s information, like his or her social security number or credit card information. Another type of low quality page would be a deceptive page, which tricks users instead of bringing them quality, relevant content. Finally, we have lack of purpose pages. These pages are rated the lowest because there is no real purpose behind why they exist. This is one practice to avoid.
Reading these guidelines reaffirmed a lot of information that we already knew. Providing quality content, a local strategy and so on; these are practices we already follow. It gives us more confidence that we are providing quality service and strategy to all of our clients.
Learn more about Google’s Search Quality Rating Guidelines by downloading a copy for yourself.