Google’s Quality Rater Guidelines (link to December 5, 2019 updates) give us insight into what Google views as SEO quality. It’s what actual Google employees use to “rate” sites like yours.
Google hires these “quality raters” to participate in experiments before algorithm updates are rolled out to the general public. These are real users who evaluate the quality of search results to see whether the algorithm is doing a good job.
The guidelines are an excellent resource for marketers to better understand how Google defines quality. For example, in July 2018 the Guidelines were updated to prioritize blogs with a high level of expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness (E-A-T). To reflect this, author bios became a way to demonstrate high-quality content to the search engine.
“Your Money, Your Life” (YMYL) pages in the financial, legal and healthcare industries could negatively affect a person’s happiness, income or life. So (as the Quality Rater Guidelines dictate) if Google’s raters find such pages to be low quality, inaccurate or misleading, they won’t rank as well as they did before those updates. That’s why the Quality Rater Guidelines are especially worth checking out if you’re in these industries.
Today, Andrei Prakharevich at SEO PowerSuite published 8 SEO Tips Inspired by the Quality Rater Guidelines. In his words, you can “future-proof your content by studying the QRG, identifying upcoming algorithm updates, and adjusting your SEO strategy accordingly.”
Quality Rater Guidelines to Keep In Mind
Andrei says it best: “Quality Raters Guidelines are a great source of ideas for what future ranking factors may look like and what we can do to prepare for them today.”
Here are a few of those potential future ranking factors and what you can do today.
Google’s raters are instructed to look for reviews, news articles, business directories, Wikipedia posts, and other sources of information to see if your business is legit.
Encourage your customers to leave Google My Business reviews. Maintain high ratings by handling negative reviews quickly.
Build trust by having transparent policies and making sure you have all appropriate customer service pages: about us, contact us, support, FAQs, terms & conditions, delivery/return policies and editorial policies.
Keep your site users engaged via comments and reviews. Users will be more inclined to trust a website when they see other users being engaged via meaningful comments and reviews.
Have a “byline” (author name) on each article and link it to an author profile, complete with a photo, job title, a social link, a bio, and a list of other articles written by the same person. If author expertise ever becomes an official ranking factor, you can take advantage of it by using Schema markup to tag your authors.
Quality raters will penalize sites with ads that are considered misleading and ads with shocking titles and graphic images. Be sure to avoid pop-ups that are difficult to close, ads that interrupt the main content, and ads that are too big.
Other things that may incur a penalty include signs of abandonment such as broken links, broken images, 4xx resources, orphan pages, and faulty redirects.
Updated Google My Business Listings
Raters are instructed to give lower quality ratings to listings without correct business hours or that are missing contact details.