What It Takes to Rank: Google’s Search Quality Guidelines Dissected

The age of black hat SEO tactics is, thankfully, coming to an end. Keyword stuffing and malicious spammy webpages are now being seen for what they are, a detriment to the Internet and users everywhere. As Google continues to create algorithms and guidelines for increasing usability and quality of webpages, we can see a definite shift in the expectations of consumers, as well as the strategies used by content creators. With the recent release of the Search Quality Rating Guidelines, there are several factors that standout as essential for webmasters and SEOs to keep in mind.

In the general sense, the quality of a webpage is judged mainly on the amount, relevance, and trustworthiness of the content. But, with that said, there are a myriad of different types of webpages, each with their own unique quality and relevance requirements. Instead of comparing apples and oranges, Google highlights that no certain webpage type is superior to another.

When delving into what makes a quality webpage, regardless of type, it is essential to consider the ultimate purpose of the page. Once you understand that purpose, you must be able to answer the following questions:

  • Is the main content of the page accurate, unique, and on-topic?
  • Does the page contain an appropriate amount of content?
  • Does this information showcase expertise on the topic?
  • Is the website a reputable, trustworthy, authoritative source of information?

If you can answer these three questions with “yes”, you’re in good shape, but there are several more factors that must also be considered.

Not all quality considerations have to deal with the content of the webpage. Aspects like webpage design, updates and maintenance, and navigation are also extremely important indicators of quality. The impact of these factors on user experience simply cannot be ignored.

Page design is a crucial player in quality. Webpages must be easy to understand, with the main content clearly evident, featuring supplementary content that adds to user experience rather than detracting from it, and appropriate (working) navigational links. If any of these factors are amiss, not only can it lead to user frustration, but it also undermines the purpose of the page.

As mobile devices continue to gain prevalence and mobile search skyrockets, the quality of mobile pages is now, debatably, even more important than desktop. Mobile-friendliness, location specificity, and understanding user intent is crucial, as are appropriate load speeds, and general usability on small screens.

Bringing it all together
Though it’s no secret that quality content is necessary to climb the rankings on Google’s SERPs, the words on webpages are only a part of the equation. Building an online reputation that is bolstered by easy to navigate site and page design on both desktop and mobile devices is essential. Once webmasters have tackled the technical and mobile aspects, keeping content fresh, relevant, and unique can make all the difference in creating the ultimate in quality and user experience.