While Google is famous for developing software and algorithms to automate the process of delivering relevant search results, they also have a human component or a “quality rater”. These humans do not establish the SEO value of the websites they audit - but instead are used to compare the algorithms used to an evaluation performed by a human being.

For the first time ever, Google has released the full search evaluator guidelines for anyone to download.

This 160 page document is a first party Google education on how sites should be rated and evaluated and it can help webmasters understand what likes and dislike Google (and their users) have regarding their site.

There are lots of resources that iterate this kind of information, some of these we have covered in previous blogs. One example of first party Google information to answer your burning questions is the Google Webmaster Youtube channel other times you may rely on a third party SEO news source like Search Engine Land of Moz. The value of this document is that it shows what Google values at a ten-thousand foot high conceptual level, and dozens of examples of how they would assess a website based a certain criteria and why.

The Search Empire Strikes Back

While the processes for deciding your website do not include a human proctor in the evaluation, we are seeing leaps and bounds in the complexity of Google’s search product. Knowing that Google is actively contrasting their machine learning with human analysis we can expect that sooner, rather than later the opinion from either humans or robots will be the same.

This is what makes the “search quality evaluator guidelines” document valuable - it summarizes everything positive and negative that google is looking for in an up-to-date document.

One of the two dominant concepts in the document is the philosophy of “Your Money or Your Life” or YMYL pages.

The below excerpt (ch 2.3) is from the document and indicates how Google establishes preference.

2.3 Your Money or Your Life (YMYL) Pages Some types of pages could potentially impact the future happiness, health, or wealth of users. We call such pages “Your Money or Your Life” pages, or YMYL.

  • The following are YMYL pages: Shopping or financial transaction pages: webpages which allow users to make purchases, transfer money, pay bills, etc. online (such as online stores and online banking pages).
  • Financial information pages: webpages which provide advice or information about investments, taxes, retirement planning, home purchase, paying for college, buying insurance, etc.
  • Medical information pages: webpages which provide advice or information about health, drugs, specific diseases or conditions, mental health, nutrition, etc. Legal information pages: webpages which provide legal advice or information on topics such as divorce, child custody, creating a will, becoming a citizen, etc.
  • Other: there are many other topics which you may consider YMYL, such as child adoption, car safety information, etc.

Please use your judgment. We have very high Page Quality rating standards for YMYL pages because low quality YMYL pages could potentially negatively impact users’ happiness, health, or wealth.

Keeping this in mind, you should be aware that if your vertical falls into any one of the above bullet points - you are going to be scrutinized more thoroughly than other web properties.

Return of the EAT

For webmasters who are located in a YMYL vertical - Google focuses on three major components - these are:

Expertise - The core knowledge exhibited and communicated in the article

Authoritativeness - The credentials of your experts and the value of your brand as an authority

Trustworthiness - The legitimacy of your website - hopefully this is not an issue as long as there is no scam content or spammy ads.

When you put it all together you get EAT, not a very dramatic acronym but there you have it. EAT is a concept that the document refers back to frequently, the individual examples and tactics are all rolled up to one of these three aspects.

There are various techniques that are highlighted in the document as well, many are what you would expect but others are refreshingly new concepts such as:

  • Know Simple Queries - Making sure that simple, specific queries have a direct answer immediately, additional supplementary and related content can be added afterwards.
  • Dated and updated content - Making sure that old content is curated, meaning the links still work and the information has been updated if necessary.
  • Monetization - It is important that any ads do not affect usability or distract from the main content

There is of course, much much more to review on the official document to get a full depth of understanding. If you are interested in getting inside Google’s head as much as possible to optimize your website or if you are just trying to avoid major pitfalls, you should definitely check the searchqualityevaluatorguidelines.pdf.

Additionally, bonus style points have been assigned to users that noticed the Star Wars themed header content.

If you would like to learn more about SEO, web analytics, or user experience as it regards to your website and Truvisibility you can learn more at http://www.truvisibility.com/en/blog. If you are interested in trying Truvisibility out today simply go to truvisibility.com and press the “Get Started” button, it is free and easy.