Google has recently published a PDF with guidelines for raters who evaluate and rate websites for Google. We know that Google takes the help of raters to evaluate websites, but I have not seen such a detailed guideline before. This is extremely useful for webmasters who want to ensure that their website conforms to overall quality guidelines. Even though there does not seem to be an impact the SERPS since the results are used to optimise the existing algorithm, I would say it will impact rankings because Google’s objective is to use this information to provide the most relevant search results to its searchers at the fastest possible time.
I personally found the Google raters guideline extremely informative and useful, especially from the SEO point of view. I am summarising some of the key guidelines that I found to be the most important:
1.Your Money Your Life pages (YMYL):
There is a distinction in how Google asks the raters to rate certain sites. For instance, Google defines sites that have the ability to impact health, wellness and financial stability of the end user as “Your Money Your Life (YMYL)” pages . Some of the examples of these sites are Financial Planners, Medical, Legal, and shopping sites. For these pages, the evaluation process is based on high E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritative and Trustworthy). For example, if you are a financial planner providing financial services to your customers, your website will be expected to meet the highest level of E-A-T since it has to do with people’s money and security. Whereas a site which is a hobby site may not be evaluated on such a high level because it is not put up by an expert but is based upon an individual’s interest. Google has specified a requirement of a higher E-A-T for corporate, well-known establishments, and entities since the quality of these websites should be higher than an amateur website.
2. E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritative, and Trustworthy):
The raters are asked to evaluate web pages based on Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness of pages that are selling expert advice. Such sites need to provide not only high quality main content, there needs to be enough information and credentials on the webpage that establishes them as experts in their domain. Providing an “About us” page with contact details, industry affiliations, reviews, list of customers, any other information that can establish their credibility is an absolute must. E-A-T is important for all web pages but the highest importance is given to Your Money Your Life (YMYL)” pages.
3. Webpage design:
The interface must be user-friendly with ease of navigation and clearly demarcated areas for Ads so that the Ads do not interfere with the main content of the page. Annoying pop ups, Ads, and anything else that distracts the user away from the main content or the objective of the page, therefore making it not so trustworthy, can earn a site low ratings.
4. Mobile Friendly:
It is completely official, mobile friendliness is an absolute must. In fact, the guideline mentions clearly that this document has been updated since user behaviour has changed a lot in the last few years. More and more people today are accessing the internet from their mobile devices, and therefore mobile-friendliness is an absolute must today.
5. Finding answers:
The other factor that is coming through very clearly from this guideline is, does the landing page provide the answer? Do the searchers find what they are looking for in the landing page itself? The objective of a landing page should be to provide the answer in the landing page. The searcher should not have to go to any other page for the answer that they are looking for.
This is one of the key best practices of SEO (Search Engine Optimization). The importance of making every web page relevant, in terms of the content, title, and topic, cannot be undermined. Highly relevant and informative content supported by apt web page titles, and images, enabling the end users find what they are looking for instantly and fast is the key requirement today.
Many of my earlier posts highlight the key result areas that a website owner should consider focusing upon in order to not only ensure traffic but traffic that will convert, and these are explicitly mentioned in the Google raters guideline PDF as well. You may find some of my below-mentioned articles very helpful and relevant:
With the detailed search quality rater guideline now available, it is the perfect opportunity to carry out an unbiased evaluation of a website based on the guidelines set by Google. Not only will it work as a website audit in terms of the functionality and quality of a web site/ web page, it will pinpoint areas that require improvement. It is indeed worthwhile to spend some time going through the guidelines. There is a ton of information that a webmaster can use. The objective from Google’s perspective is to improve the search results based on the evaluation of the raters. And from the webmasters perspective this guideline is a source for improving and bench marking their website and web pages to the high quality guidelines set by Google.