Google have released a lengthy Search Quality Rating guidelines document offering significant clues as to how webmasters can improve the SERP of its web pages.

Following a leak, Google has released a 160 page document of its Search Quality Rating Guidelines. This was designed for a panel of Google testers to assist them in understanding how to rate the website search results that they are tasked with evaluating.

The document is an extremely informative read for anyone interested in the SEO industry and offers key insights into how a webmaster can boost the ranking of their site by improving the overall quality of their webpages.

Page Quality

Much emphasis is placed by Google on the importance of ‘Page Quality’ or ‘PQ’ which requires that a page provides value to a user. Sites which exist purely for money-making purposes are clearly frowned upon as the guidelines read ‘websites and pages that are created… (to) make money with no attempt to help users, will receive a very low PQ rating.’

With this clear indication from Google, webmasters should be looking to improve the overall visitor experience for their users by ensuring that content is interesting, informative and helpful for those who land on a particular page.

Higher Set of Standards

Most significantly, Google defines a higher set of standards for sites which belong in their ‘Your Money, Your Life’ category. This means that if you have a website which offers information or products which could impact on a user’s ‘happiness, health or wealth’, then you’ll need to work extra hard. Webmasters should ensure that visitors cannot be deemed to be negatively affected by any of the content of the site. For instance, if you provide information on financial, legal or medical matters, it is of vital importance that it is current and factually accurate.

Balance of Content

Google asks its testers to determine the balance between the Main Content (MC) and Supplementary Content (SC) of a webpage as well as its ads. One of the negative aspects of a web page could be its ‘unsatisfying amount of main content’.

Webmasters need to publish a decent amount of main content about a relevant topic on each page that is published on their site. Supplementary content, which could be described as being other pages or tabs on a navigation pane, must complement and enhance the main content of the page.

Advertising Responsibility

Google recognises that many websites are unable to exist without the revenue that advertising streams bring in. However, it does place responsibility on webmasters for the types of adverts that a site displays. This is important for those sites who are members of advertising networks which typically use embedded code to allow a rotation of varying display ads. Webmasters need to be alert to the types of ads that are being displayed in case any are considered inappropriate.

Website Reputation

Think Google just looks at your backlinks? Think again. Google requests that its testers investigate the external reputation of each site. They do this by checking what a website says about themselves on an ‘About Us’ or ‘Company Profile’ page and compares it to what other websites are saying about them. Essentially, they background check the standing of a site and its company. So if there’s ever been a reason to check how your company is performing on review sites, then this is it.

The lengthy 160 page document of guidelines offers many useful ideas on how to improve the quality of your webpages, but in essence webmasters need to seriously focus on providing quality to their visitors and to their customers in order to do well with these recent Google changes.