Page Quality Rating Guidelines
The word ‘search’ has long become synonymous with navigating the Internet. With Google alone processing over 8.5 billion queries daily, maximum efficiency is required to direct users toward the most relevant content possible.
To aid in this process, Google hires Search Quality Raters to provide feedback on selected pages and enhance the search experience. When evaluating a page, Quality Raters rely on the Google Quality Rater Guidelines.
The Google Quality Guidelines serve as a comprehensive resource outlining the criteria for assessing the quality of web pages and the overall user experience. These guidelines provide insights into factors such as relevance, expertise, and trustworthiness, helping website owners and content creators understand what Google considers important for delivering high-quality search results.
The higher the quality of the page, the more likely it will satisfy users referred by Google. By familiarizing yourself with the document’s key highlights, you can potentially enhance the search profile of your web pages.
How overall page quality rating is calculated
Google uses page quality ratings to achieve specific purposes. The key objective is to understand a web page’s intent and assess whether it could have any negative impact on readers.
The rating follows a sliding scale that distinctly identifies nine levels of page quality, from lowest to highest. Raters will assign overall page ratings based on several factors.
What constitutes high-quality pages?
The most desirable rating for web pages is high-quality. These pages comprehensively meet the needs of their audience. While your objectives may vary, you should aim to create extremely satisfying content.
High-quality pages have a clear purpose, whether it’s sharing an opinion, entertaining, or selling a product. For most pages, you can gauge the quality of the main content by considering the level of effort, originality, and talent, or skill invested in its creation.
In addition to content, other elements contribute to the final rating, including:
- Page structure and design
- Reputation and authority of the website
- Social indicators
To learn how to align your content with your users’ expectations, read our complete guide on SEO for blogs.
What constitutes medium-quality pages?
Web pages that don’t meet the stipulated guidelines for a high-quality rating but still meet primary objectives are considered medium-quality. A medium-quality page can have its rating revised if further improvements are made.
What constitutes low-quality pages?
Considering the key factors that determine high-quality pages, much of the opposite holds true for low-quality pages.
The lowest quality pages spread hate, incite violence, lie and deceive, or spread negativity. However, it’s essential to note that it’s possible for a web page to have a low-quality rating even if it has no potential negative impact.
There are many reasons for this, one being that the main content fails to deliver sufficient value to the intended audience. For example, content lacking in-depth coverage isn’t considered satisfying.
Some other reasons include:
- Page titles are designed for excessive impact (e.g., clickbait).
- Inability to clearly demonstrate E-E-A-T.
- Excessive volume or poor placement of distractions, such as ads.
- Poor reputation or lack of information about the content creators.
What raters inspect and why
High-quality web pages have distinct characteristics that are considered desirable by Google. Web pages generally need to be well-structured, serve a clear purpose, display elements of authority and trust, and exercise caution in distinct areas.
These requirements can be condensed into five distinct areas of assessment:
- Purpose of page creation
- Content elements
- Your Money or Your Life (YMYL)
- E-E-A-T rating
- Website reputation
It’s most generally understood that Google prefers to send users to relevant and helpful content. It steers users clear of harmful pages, including pages that incite hate or display deceitful content.
Purpose of page creation
Everybody does things for a reason. When users perform searches, they have specific goals or objectives in mind. This could be anything from finding information and seeking answers to looking for solutions. No matter what the goal may be, aligning your content with user intent is key to providing valuable and relevant information.
Understanding user needs and intent is also crucial for creating high-quality content on your webpages. Users come from diverse backgrounds with varying characteristics, including age, gender, race, religion, and political affiliations. By considering this diversity, you can create content that resonates with a wide range of users and addresses their specific needs and interests.
It’s also important to consider the user’s locale, including language and region. Different regions may have unique preferences, cultural nuances, and language variations that should be considered when creating content. Additionally, user location, such as a city or state, can provide more relevance to content that matches the specific needs of users in that area.
The same applies to web pages; they exist for a reason. If you browse Google, you’ll come across a wealth of information that helps to resolve the many issues or problems shared by people worldwide. The value that can be gained from web pages stems from their ability to contain beneficial information. This is why it’s important to know which sources Google considers reputable when assessing a website’s reputation.
Google rewards web pages that:
- Educate: For instance, tech websites share tutorials to guide users in resolving problems and addressing similar needs.
- Allow expression of opinion: Forums often provide an outlet for communities to express views, helping to gauge sentiment and understand needs and wants.
- Inform: News websites offer valid and authentic updates about current events.
- Support transactions: Ecommerce is a booming industry, and web pages that focus on selling products/services are becoming more popular.
Google assesses how well a web page achieves its purpose. If you fail at this, your page will automatically receive a low rating. On the other hand, if your web page succeeds at serving a clear beneficial purpose, you will rank higher.
No matter the nature of your site, always be clear and precise about what you want to achieve, ensuring your goals doubly benefit your users.
There are three different types of content:
- Main content
- Supplementary content
- Ad content
Getting to know all three and learning how to optimize for each type is crucial, as Google places heavy emphasis on content alone.
Let’s dive right in!
This is the core content of a web page, serving the page’s purpose and drawing the most scrutiny from Google. This is the portion of the site that the webmaster directly controls, so Google expects it to be of high quality.
According to The State of Content Marketing and SEO in 2023 Survey, 63% of SEO professionals and marketers say that content quality is the most important on-page ranking factor. They also say it is the most effective search engine optimization tactic. On-page optimization involves both the content and HTML source code of a page, which can be optimized, while off-page optimization deals with links and other external information.
This means that you must put in a lot of effort. Focus on improving your main content to ensure it remains consistently relevant and regularly updated.
Google is always looking for relevant and high-quality content that caters to the needs of site visitors. As an expert in your field, be sure to convey your expertise clearly on your pages. Achieve this by having consistently high-quality and accurate information that is always updated. Visitors will naturally enjoy their site experience and feel more at ease about making decisions regarding your product or service.
If you’re looking for an efficient way to identify and address your page’s on-site optimization errors, consider using SE Ranking’s On-Page SEO Checker.
As the name suggests, supplementary content complements the main content and improves the user experience. It includes footers, headers, sidebars, comment sections, media handles, internal links to other related articles, and more. On the other hand, supplementary content doesn’t directly contribute to achieving the page’s purpose.
Make sure that your supplementary content isn’t overwhelming, allowing the main content to shine through and remain crystal clear to users.
SE Ranking’s Content Editor is an invaluable tool for content creators who want to craft high-quality content. With its intuitive interface and comprehensive features, the Content Editor not only allows users to optimize their content for search engines but also ensures it meets the needs and expectations of their target audience. The tool offers real-time suggestions for enhancing readability, keyword usage, and overall content structure, allowing users to craft engaging and informative content. Content creators can use insights into word count, headings, links, and more to streamline their writing process and enhance the relevance and value of their content.
Anything that is sponsored or exists to make money on your web page falls under Ads or monetization. This is what keeps a quality website running. On the other hand, ads can adversely affect your search ranking if you aren’t careful. Ads need to be high-quality, clearly segregated, and marked so that they don’t distract your readers from the main topic at hand.
Your Money or Your Life
Google classifies any page to be YMYL if it contains information that can significantly affect someone’s future, well-being, happiness, health, finances, or safety. For this reason, these types of pages are subject to even stricter guidelines.
There are four areas that fall into YMYL, according to Google Quality Guidelines. If your site or web pages fall under any of these areas, you’ll want to pay extra attention to this section:
Health or Safety: Topics that harm well-being or endanger safety
Many sites provide health and medical information, including medical advice. Google also considers pages that cover other areas beyond standard medical conditions and pharmaceuticals, such as nutrition and niche health matters.
If your website falls under this category, it’s generally advised to have medical experts contribute to the content and include links to highly recognized medical boards. Providing valid and authoritative data to support your content is essential for establishing credibility.
Financial Security: Topics that undermine financial stability
These pages focus on financial information, providing financial advice on investments, taxes, retirement planning, loans, banking, or insurance, and more. Since this information directly affects a person’s future and happiness, it is crucial to have precise and updated data to support your advice.
This also applies to online bill payment and online banking sites, as well as any online stores or sites that accept orders and payment information. If your website falls under any of these classifications, you must ensure that the whole transaction process is highly secure, encrypted, and seamless.
Society: Topics that negatively impact groups and public trust.
Google classifies all types of legal information and advice pages as YMYL. If you run an online news portal, particularly one with a mainstream focus, you’ll have to make sure that whatever is posted is consistently accurate, updated, and written with integrity. Nobody wants to read stale news, especially since the news cycle is so quick. Fewer and fewer people are reading news from the day before. Misleading news or news laced with malicious intentions is also unappealing to readers, for obvious reasons.
Given that the information reported can directly or indirectly impact people’s lives, it’s understandable that this category falls under YMYL. Carefully tread on the accuracy of the content and the language used to convey meaning.
Other: Topics that are harmful to individuals or society.
There will always be countless other pages that fall under YMYL and don’t fit into any of the above categories. Examples include immigration, child custody, divorce, and even construction. As rules and regulations in these areas may often change with time, it’s crucial to always update your pages and provide readers with the most current legal advice. Just remember, as long as sites house information that can somehow negatively impact the readers’ safety, happiness, health, or wealth, they will qualify as YMYL.
Google’s Search Quality Guidelines repeatedly highlight the importance of holding YMYL sites to a higher standard than others. This approach is reasonable since Google aims to protect its users. If Google finds any pages both containing false information and having a negative impact, you can bet your bottom dollar that such pages will receive the lowest rankings possible.
To achieve a high rating, never mislead your users. Instead, your pages have to be filled with accurate, spot-on, and relevant content supported by strong references to credible sources. Involving experts in the respective field to contribute to your content is always the right move.
E-E-A-T rating (Experience/Expertise/Authoritativeness/Trustworthiness)
This concept refers to what most people consider a website’s overall value. Readers will often ask themselves the following four questions when reading content on your site:
- Is the content on this page based on real experience?
- Is this site lacking expertise?
- Does the site have enough authoritativeness?
- Is the site trustworthy?
E-E-A-T is especially important for YMYL pages, but it also applies to other pages as well.
A survey by Statista revealed that almost 20% of senior-level communications and marketing professionals in the United States strongly agreed that users actually read their created content, while another 44% moderately agreed.
This underscores the importance of developing high-quality E-E-A-T content, as it enhances your website ranking, strengthens your brand reputation, and improves customer satisfaction.
Experience: You need to showcase this
In the updated E-E-A-T concept, Google emphasizes the significance of content based on firsthand or relevant life experience. This adds credibility and usefulness to the page content. Demonstrating a wealth of knowledge and experience, whether it comes from you or contributors, is highly important. Draw from personal experiences to provide unique insights and practical advice that goes beyond generic information.
When crafting content that leverages your experience, consider the specific needs and interests of your target audience. Address their pain points, answer their questions, and provide practical solutions based on your personal knowledge and experience.
Expertise: You need to demonstrate this
To establish your site’s expertise, you must showcase to your reader your (or your contributors’) wealth of knowledge. It’s essentially the content of the page that is being judged the most. For instance, if a reader is searching for information on a certain medical condition, providing an in-depth research study on causes, impact, statistics, trial studies, etc., from a highly credible medical institution or government agency, will be helpful.
Another strategic move is to host a forum where exceptional members with a relevant area of expertise can participate in answering public queries. This context allows for addressing questions with the right expertise and ensures the readers’ needs are met.
Authoritativeness: You need to have this
This involves both the authority of the content itself and the domain. External factors, such as included links, their quality, brand mentions, citations, and more, contribute to the website’s authority.
Demonstrating authority through links relies on relevance and quality, not quantity. Don’t clutter your site with excessive links, especially if they aren’t beneficial. Strike a healthy and proper balance, focusing on strategies for receiving only relevant external signals.
Trustworthiness: You need to build this
This comes from the readers themselves. When they peruse your website, they’ll start asking themselves if they can trust what they read on your site or if the content makes them feel uneasy. Again, trust covers both the content and the domain.
Slow or underperforming websites can raise red flags, especially for web development agencies or businesses claiming expertise. Users may interpret poor performance as a lack of reliability, fairness, or even expertise. Consequently, their trust in your site can diminish significantly, ultimately impacting engagement and conversions. To maintain user trust and credibility, focus on prioritizing website optimization and deliver a fast, seamless browsing experience.
To ensure your web pages comply with E-E-A-T, you need to:
- Have content written by relevant experts with a thorough and deep understanding of the topic at hand.
- Showcase the expertise of all contributing authors (include their bios and credentials).
- Include real-life experiences, for example, with a disease.
- Cite all sources (reputable and credible).
- Ensure review pages are written by people who have actually used the products or services.
- Be a reliable platform and source of information that is trusted by other reputable sources in the same field.
A website’s reputation is formed by the experience of users and the opinion of experts in the related field. Essentially, it is how others look and think about your website, company, or business. This includes the reputation of the content creator and the whole team. Simply put, it’s the whole package.
For example, if you’re an IT company selling security solutions, suffering a security breach won’t bode well for your site’s reputation. This is why you need to make sure that your web pages are properly secured.
Although Google algorithms currently do not consider customer reviews, reviews do influence a website’s positions in local search.
To manage your online reputation effectively, consider using SE Ranking’s Local Marketing tool, which is a powerful asset. It allows you to easily manage your online presence, monitor citations and reviews, and even track performance. Check out this step-by-step guide on analyzing and managing your online reputation.
Additionally, to evaluate a website’s reputation, search quality raters pay attention to reviews, references to your website or company, expert recommendations, news articles, even awards. All these sources must be credible and reliable.
Having a good reputation is key for your website to perform well in Google’s rankings. To gauge your website’s reputation, you can check your business’s score on credible and popular review sites to get a feel for the sentiment out there. Make sure you address all negative reviews and resolve them satisfactorily.
Never remove negative comments or reviews on your website because Google will penalize you for it. Instead, work on building a positive online reputation fairly and responsibly.
Google wants what users want. Google also wants to meet their needs, which also happens to be why Google’s Search Quality Rater Guidelines came about. This document was made to help human raters assess and finetune its algorithm.
By referring to these guidelines, you can find handy tips to improve your website’s ranking in SERPs and gain more search visibility. The six key areas mentioned above are crucial for you to focus on, enabling Google to place your pages higher up in search results. Now, with all this knowledge at hand, you’re ready, able, and hopefully willing, to unlock your website’s full potential.