Turn Focus to Page Quality and Needs Met

Search quality evaluation is an ever-changing process. The way people interact with search engines continues to evolve, and along with it, tactics for creating an engaging user experience. Last month, Google released a new set of guidelines for search engine evaluators. The document primarily focuses on Page Quality (PQ) rating and Needs Met (NM) ratings.

Page Quality evaluates how well a website achieves its particular purpose. Since there are so many different types of websites, the purpose of each can greatly vary. Google does not rank on the basis of website types, only how they provide value to the user. Generally, a website or page should be designed to help people in some way. If they are only created to make money or deceive users, Page Quality ratings will suffer. Google has especially high standards for your money, your life (YMYL) pages. These are websites that can potentially affect user happiness, health or wealth. The two types of page content that evaluators consider are Main Content (MC) and Supplementary Content (SC). MC refers to the parts of the page that help it achieve its purpose. SC creates a good user experience, but does not directly help the page achieve its purpose. It’s important to remember that webmasters are responsible for the quality of all of the content on a page, including ads.

Page Quality
Page Quality is an important part of the evaluation process. It is important for webpages to make it clear who created the content. Displaying contact information such as email addresses, phone numbers and physical addresses help clarify who created a page and how to reach them. This factor is less important for certain types of pages, such as ones meant to be humorous. Webmasters are expected to maintain webpages. For content such as news, frequent updates matter. Evaluators consider third party sources when determining the reputation of a page. There are five ratings for Page Quality. Content creators should always aim to receive the highest rating. They can do this by creating high quality MC, being authoritative on a topic and having a good reputation among outside sources. High quality pages feature functional page design where the MC is front and center. Websites that fail to consider these factors will be evaluated as low quality. The worst offenders are pages that are malicious, lack a purpose or are deceptive to users. Webpages are penalized for content that stuffs keywords, is automatically generated or is copied.

Mobile searches need to be considered with Page Quality. The easier it is for someone to find exactly what he or she needs on a smartphone or tablet, the better the Page Quality rating. Evaluators should consider common search queries that are put into mobile devices. Location can be a factor for certain queries when it affects user intent. Mobile queries can have multiple meanings. In these cases, evaluators separate them into dominant interpretation, common interpretation and minor interpretation categories. Queries are separated into different categories. “Know queries” are when mobile users want to find information on a topic, such as stats or facts. “Do queries” accomplish a task on a phone, such as finding an app or buying a product. Other types of queries include specific website and visit in person searches.

Needs Met
The second factor search evaluators consider is called the Needs Met rating. This factor grades how helpful and satisfying a search result is for mobile users. There are five ratings, and again, content creators should aim high. Evaluators rank both results blocks and landing pages. To receive the top rating (Fully Meets), a result must allow users to immediately get the information they’re looking for and not have to search anywhere else to get it. When users search for a specific website, need to perform a device action or need specific information, pages that fully satisfy that query will receive a top rating. The next best rating, Highly Meets, satisfies the needs of many or most users. They are high quality, authoritative, entertaining or recent. Topics that have many results have stricter guidelines for webpages in order for them to get a Highly Meets rating. Pages that are not in English will receive a foreign language flag if the query is in English. A hard use flag is assigned to pages that aren’t easy to view on a small mobile screen.

Page Quality and Needs Met ratings entail many factors. They both serve to create a better user experience for anyone who uses Google. Search engine evaluators rate websites and pages based on very specific guidelines. Webmasters and content creators must be aware of best practices if they want their pages to rank well in search results. The most important thing to do when creating a new page is ask yourself, “Am I providing real value to people who visit this page?” If the answer is yes, you’re already halfway to reaching your goal of a higher search ranking.