search engine optimisationIn their efforts to improve the digital experience of internet users, Google strives to continuously tweak its guidelines. The purpose is to encourage online businesses to publish quality content.

Google released the original “quality raters” document in November 2015, a 160-page dossier presenting guidelines that “reflect what Google think users want.”

The Google quality raters guide document intends to provide some clarity to help webmasters understand how Google ranks pages. The 2015 version was updated to include searches on mobile devices.

The latest updates have a heavy focus on mobile and underscores just how important search engines consider mobile users.

Supplementary content

Now that internet users are conducting more searches on mobile phones than desktop computers, there is an added emphasis for companies to be mobile friendly.

With this in mind, Google completely removed the section on supplementary content that is specifically targeted to content on that page and offers added value to readers looking for information.

In Google’s very own words:

“Supplementary Content can be a large part of what makes a High quality page very satisfying for its purpose. Features designed to help shoppers find other products they might also like can be as helpful as the MC on the page.”

Although the section has been removed from the Google quality raters guide document, it is safe to assume the search engine giant will not dismiss supplementary content altogether.

Support content has been removed from mobile screens to compensate for the lack of landscape, but still offers value to desktop users so don’t rush off to remove all your supplementary content.

Expertise, authority and trustworthiness (E.A.T.)

It seems Google is struggling to accomplish its E.A.T targets. Google Author Rank seemed to have provided an answer several years ago. But the search engine completely wiped the metric out and replaced it with the more confusing slogan ‘Your Money or Your Life’ (YMYL).

YMYL is supposed to encourage online businesses to publish content that positively impacts the “future happiness, health or wealth” of the end-user; an irony considering the phrase is synonymous with a highway robber.

In the latest version of the quality document, Google has replaced with word “wealth” with “financial stability.” The slogan is still an irony, but pushes online businesses to consider whether their audience considers them trustworthy experts that have authority.

This element of the Google Raters Guide is particularly prevalent for the likes of financial services, medical and legal websites (in fact, any site which affects health, wealth and future life happiness for end users).

Page Quality Rating

The section on page quality outlines the most important elements that impact the overall quality of a page. They are:

  • A clear focus of what content can be found on any given page
  • E.A.T
  • Website reputation – inbound links
  • Citations – links to supporting content
  • Customer service information

Curiously supplementary content and user-experience were removed from this list in relation to mobile users.
This may be because Google automatically strips away feature elements that are unnecessary. Users can expect to see more examples of Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) in the coming months.

The principle takeaway from the Google Quality Raters guide is that Google’s focus is on end-users and not businesses.
It is the responsibility of online companies to understand the objectives of the search engine and publish content your audience wants – not what you think they need.  Furthermore, the emphasis is increasingly becoming one of “how many people did you help today?” as Gary Illyes, of Google suggested at Pubcon back in October 2015.  Help users to meet needs and your website will stay on the right path.