Internet Marketing Tips, Suggestions, & Ramblings

Google Search Quality Guidelines: Released!

Yesterday, Google dropped a bomb on us. They released the full version of their Search Quality Guidelines. This 160-page PDF contains all the guidelines Google’s evaluators use to “assess the quality of Google’s search results.”

Why did Google release their search quality guidelines? They say it’s because of the recent mobile explosion these past few years. More users than ever are on-the-go and need answers now. And their smartphones are the way they get those answers. Basically, Google wants to “provide transparency” for webmasters to cater to users’ needs.

Mimi Underwood, Google’s Sr. Program Manager of Search Growth and Analysis, reminds us that the Google Quality Rater guidelines are always changing. As search keeps changing, these guidelines will continue to change as well. And what’s more, Google says new versions of these guidelines will be released periodically.

For now, it’s definitely worth it to pour over this document and see what’s inside.

An evaluator sitting in front of a computer, using the Google search quality guidelines to determine if a website is quality or not. The top shows the evaluator searching for "iphone." The bottom picture shows the evaluator questioning the trustworthiness of a Google search result that seems spammy.

What’s Inside Google’s Search Quality Guidelines?

First of all, it’s worth noting that these guidelines do not determine a site’s rankings. They’re for evaluators to help Google develop their algorithms. Evaluators provide feedback on Google’s experiments. This lets Google provide better search results based on what “Google thinks users want.”

The result? A diverse array of factors that evaluators use to determine what makes a web page a “quality” web page. Here are some of the Google search guidelines that we think are the most interesting:

  • Characteristics of High Quality Pages
    • A Satisfying Amount of High Quality Main Content
    • Functional Page Design
    • High Level of E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness)
  • Characteristics of Low Quality Pages
    • Lack of Purpose Pages
    • Deceptive Pages
    • Abandoned Website or Spammed Pages on a Website
  • Understanding Mobile Users, Mobile Queries, and Mobile Results
    • Task Location (Locale) and User Location
    • Queries with an Explicit Location, Multiple Meanings
    • Understanding User Intent
  • Rating Queries with Multiple Interpretations and Intents
  • Specificity of Queries and Landing Pages

These are just a few of the Internet search guidelines evaluators use to rate websites. (Did we mention the document is 160 pages?) And this isn’t even the final version.

How the SEO World Can Benefit

So why the release of such valuable information? Google may just be recovering from the leak that happened earlier this week. Either way, it doesn’t matter—the SEO world has received a major boon with this release. We get to see the full range of factors that go into making a “quality” page and website.

We’re positive we’ll see all sorts of articles popping up in the wake of this release. In-depth breakdowns of each of the Google search guidelines, that sort of thing. But for now, give the document a look. There’s lots to learn, and if what we know about mobile is any indication, we have to learn it fast.

Now if only they would release the Google Quality Guidelines…

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