The Ultimate Guide to Google’s Search Quality Guidelines (Part 2)

The first post in our Ultimate Guide to Google’s Search Quality Guidelines covered the basics of the Search Quality Guidelines. In Part 2, Dustin and I are taking a deep dive into the methods you can use to establish Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness (E-A-T) in your main content.

So let’s get right into it…

Part 2: Page Quality Rating Guidelines

Understanding the Website

Now that you understand the different parts of the page, we can move on to understanding how each page fits into the website as a whole. Here are the most important factors to evaluate:

  • Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness
  • Main Content Quality and Amount
  • Information about who is responsible for the website
  • Website Reputation

Before we go into detail about each of the above sections, it’s important to note that most of the information we’re looking for should be found on one of the following pages:

  • Home Page
  • About Us Page
  • Contact Us Page
  • Customer Service Page

Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness

One major change in the updated Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines  released by Google on July 20, 2018 was that high “E-A-T” had replaced all previous references to high “quality.” In other words, we now have a quantifiable way to measure “quality.”

Quality =  Expertise + Authoritativeness + Trustworthiness

Here’s an excerpt from the Guidelines (we’ve added the emphasis):

“Remember that the first step of PQ rating is to understand the true purpose of the page. Websites or pages without some sort of beneficial purpose, including pages that are created with no attempt to help users, or pages that potentially spread hate, cause harm, or misinform or deceive users, should receive the Lowest rating.

For all other pages that have a beneficial purpose, the amount of expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness (E-A-T) is very important. Please consider:

● The expertise of the creator of the MC.
● The authoritativeness of the creator of the MC, the MC itself, and the website.
● The trustworthiness of the creator of the MC, the MC itself, and the website.”

Now that Google has told us exactly what they’re looking for, how do we evaluate the E-A-T of a website?

We’ll start with the content author.

Some of the questions to ask are: Who wrote the content? What are their credentials? Do they need special training or experience to write about this subject?

Keep in mind that the standards were already very high for YMYL (Your Money or Your Life) pages and the updated Guidelines have gone a step further and spelled out exactly what they’re looking for.

Another excerpt from the Guidelines:

●”High E-A-T medical advice should be written or produced by people or organizations with appropriate medical expertise or accreditation. High E-A-T medical advice or information should be written or produced in a professional style and should be edited, reviewed, and updated on a regular basis.

High E-A-T news articles should be produced with journalistic professionalism—they should contain factually accurate content presented in a way that helps users achieve a better understanding of events. High E-A-T news sources typically have published established editorial policies and robust review processes ( example 1 , example 2 ).

High E-A-T information pages on scientific topics should be produced by people or organizations with appropriate scientific expertise and represent well-established scientific consensus on issues where such consensus exists.

High E-A-T financial advice, legal advice, tax advice, etc., should come from trustworthy sources and be maintained and updated regularly.

High E-A-T advice pages on topics such as home remodeling (which can cost thousands of dollars and impact your living situation) or advice on parenting issues (which can impact the future happiness of a family) should also come from “expert” or experienced sources that users can trust.

High E-A-T pages on hobbies, such as photography or learning to play a guitar, also require expertise.”

What about subject areas outside of YMYL?

This can be anything from organic gardening to African dance and so much more. Here, the topics don’t require as much credentialed expertise. According to Google, “the standard for expertise depends on the topic of the page.” 

So what qualifies as “expertise” in these areas?

Google says:

“Some topics require less formal expertise. Many people write extremely detailed, helpful reviews of products or restaurants. Many people share tips and life experiences on forums, blogs, etc. These ordinary people may be considered experts in topics where they have life experience. If it seems as if the person creating the content has the type and amount of life experience to make him or her an “expert” on the topic, we will value this “everyday expertise” and not penalize the person/webpage/website for not having “formal” education or training in the field.”

Main Content Quality and Amount

Next we’ll move on to evaluating content for both quantity and amount. And, surprise… surprise… We’re circling right back to E-A-T!

Here are the most important characteristics of high quality content:

  • The content achieves the purpose of the web page. It is clearly written, satisfies the visitor and includes a descriptive title.
  • The amount of content on the page is dependent on the complexity of the subject. Remember, the content needs to “satisfy” the visitor.
  • Creating this content will have a significant amount of time, effort, expertise, talent or skill.
  • Must be factually accurate (and depending on the subject matter, is agreed upon by other experts). This does not apply to humor or satire pages.
  • Content can include: text, audio, video, calculators, games, shopping carts, etc. All elements of the page should be functioning as designed.
  • The content creator and the website should both have a positive reputation.

Here are some examples of pages that Google considers to have high quality Main Content (MC):

Siberian  Husky Information  Page

Kitchen  Stand Mixer Shopping  Page  Note:  Some of  the Main Content  is behind links on the  page (“item details,” “item  specifications,” “guest reviews,”  etc.).

Movie  Review Page

Information about who is responsible for the website

Just as we’ve seen in the previous sections, keep in mind that the standards for the person or organization that’s responsible for a website are higher for YMYL sites than they are for other types of sites.

YMYL pages should provide enough information about the content author(s) for site visitors to evaluate their credentials and trustworthiness. These pages also need to contain contact info for the site owner or customer service department. 

For sites that are not considered YMYL, the standards are not as high. However, at the very least there should be a contact form or email address for the site owner. 

Website Reputation

The final factor in evaluating a web page is the site’s reputation according to outside sources.

This can include sites like Yelp, the Better Business Bureau, Google Shopping and Amazon, since Google regards these sites as reputable review sites.  Google also considers customer reviews (not generated by the target website), news and magazine articles, Wikipedia mentions, forum posts and even independent rating organizations. For sites that are not considered YMYL, user engagement, popularity and reviews can be used as a measure of reputation.

So if your site has a negative review online, don’t worry, that doesn’t mean you can’t qualify as a high quality site. The reason for the negative review will be taken into consideration (some things are beyond your control!) as well as your online response to the review. Also, make sure that you mention prestigious awards or recommendations from known experts or professional societies on your pages if you have it.

Examples of Highest Quality Pages

So what does Google consider the highest quality pages? What are their choices for the best of the best?

The first criteria is that the highest quality pages serve a beneficial purpose and there is no question that they achieve that purpose through the quality and quantity of main content, the very positive reputation of both the content creator and website owner, and a very high level of E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness).

Very High Quality Page Examples
News SiteInformational Site
Government SiteTechnical Site
Financial SiteMedical Site
Entertainment SiteShopping
Video SiteSocial Media Profile

Until Next Time

E-A-T is a huge subject and has become one of the most important ranking factors. So take this information seriously and apply it wherever you can.  In the next installment, we’ll go even deeper into E-A-T, high quality vs low quality content and more. Stay tuned!

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