Google has never released a full version of its “Search Quality Raters Handbook” until now. Search quality raters are outsourced employees who evaluate the quality of search results. The handbook provides the criteria by which they are to judge. While it’s wishful thinking to believe that the handbook divulges all the secrets of Google’s search algorithm, it still supplies valuable insight.
One of the interesting details mentioned in the book is what’s called “Your Money or Your Life” or YMYL pages for short. They are described as pages that “could potentially impact the future happiness, health, or wealth of users.” Such pages include but are not limited to shopping or financial transactions, financial information, medical information, and legal information. Google holds these pages to a very high standard because there is a chance they could negatively impact user’s health, happiness, or wealth. The implications for marketers is obvious. If, for example, you are involved in generating content to sell medical services or products, your page had better be up to snuff. The good news from Google is this: “The type of page design and level of professionalism we expect for a large online store is very different than what we might expect for a small local business website.”
So what do these raters look for in a high-quality page? There are several factors. The page should display a high level of expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness (EAT). This boils down to the question of whether or not the main content comes from a source that is able to speak authoritatively about a topic. Another factor is helpful supplementary content that “is specifically targeted to the content and purpose of the page.” This could be in the form of blog posts, but note that again smaller, local businesses are given a little slack. Google says they “may need less [supplementary content] for their purpose.” The other two factors we would like to highlight are functionality and freshness. Pages should be well organized, easy to use, and updated often.
All of this information serves to point out that good SEO is not an overnight job. Google explicitly states in the handbook that a web page is of the highest quality when “it is created with a high degree of time and effort, and in particular, expertise, talent, and skill.” Whoever develops your website and generates content for it should display these characteristics. And while Google says that some of these factors may not be necessary for smaller businesses, we certainly think that they can help your business stand out in the minds of your customers.