Keeping the Audience in Mind

Before reading this guide, I knew very little about what went into Search Quality rating, so I found the whole PDF to be very informative. I truthfully didn’t know/fully understand that humans evaluated sites and assigned scores to them. I found the examples to be very helpful. More than anything, this guide reinforced the notion that SEO is just as much for the user as it is for the search engine. SEO professionals cannot optimize sites and pages “for Google” without keeping the audience in mind and expect to see long-term results.

Specifically, I thought the E-A-T (expertise, authority, trustworthiness) acronym was helpful, since I had never heard it before. When one is optimizing and writing content day in day out, it’s possible to lose sight of the fact that one should not only be writing in a way that’s helpful for crawlers, but also be writing from the perspective of the definitive industry expert on a topic. Everything we do and say and write should not only be useful, but also carry significant clout. We should always be on the lookout to make sure our content reflects E-A-T and the highest level of “Needs Met” we can provide. It seems like we’ve been doing more and more of this as we boost rich snippet content and dig deeper into local SEO.

The most crucial part of this whole document for me was in section 12.2, where it tells raters “Do not assign a high rating to a webpage just because it appears at the top of a list of search results on Google.” This gets to the heart of the fact that Google’s algorithm is not the be-all end-all—you truly have to put time and effort into SEO to make sure that what you’re providing is valuable. I think this is something that’s important for us to be able to communicate to clients effectively. There is no shortcut for SEO, no black hat tactics that will secure you actual results. At the end of the day, short-term gains are not worth investing in, and long-term results are well worth the wait.