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Google Updates Search Quality Rating Guidelines

by Brian Colling - June 05, 2016

Google Updates Search Quality Rating Guidelines

Back in November 2015, Google published a document with the full version of their quality rating guidelines. On March 28, Google updated this document, reducing the length of the document from 160 pages to 146 pages. This is the first update Google has made to the document and to their search quality ratings since the document was published in November.

Highlights of Google’s Search Quality Updates

Here are a few highlights of the changes the search engine has made to their quality rating guidelines:

• Supplementary content de-emphasized.
• Emphasis added to local searches, renamed “Visit-in-Person.”
• Higher emphasis on Your Money Your Life and Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness (E-A-T)
• Mobile remains highly important.

Google completely removed the section on supplementary content from their guidelines. The de-emphasis on supplementary content comes as a bit of a surprise since previous versions of the rating guidelines highly stressed the impact of supplementary content. Google’s emphasis on mobile experience may be the reason that supplementary content has been removed from consideration since the supplementary content is often inaccessible on mobile devices.

More Interesting Search Updates

Google also completely removed the section on functional page design. The most likely reason for this section’s removal is that functional design will not mean the same thing for every website.

Google’s new quality rating guidelines now no longer include a section on website maintenance. Google is likely putting less emphasis on maintenance because some website types simply don’t require as much maintenance.

Another interesting development that has come in this update is called Adobe Flash and RealPlayer plugins “generally safe” to download, in light of some of the plugins’ past security issues.

Google has also asked raters to change the way that they look at ads on web pages, saying “Ads may contribute to a good user experience.” Many might think that the presence of ads should lower the quality score, but this is not always the case. Google is probably referring to well-targeted ads and unobtrusive affiliate ads as ads that can contribute to quality user experiences.

Google’s Most Important Factors for Page Quality

Google added a brand new section on the most important factors for page quality. The factors include:

• Main content quality and amount
• Website information and information on who is responsible for the site
• Website reputation
• Expertise, authoritativeness, trustworthiness.

The changes in Google’s rating guidelines seem to place a high priority on the mobile experience, which will probably be good for webmasters in the long run as mobile web usage continues to increase. Webmasters will no longer need to worry as much about supplementary content and can focus more on using mobile-friendly designs and establishing expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness in their main content.

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