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Google’s Search Quality Rating Guidelines: Now With Mobile!

Matt Brady
#Mobile, #SEO
Published on December 9, 2015

We look at what we can learn about SEO from the latest version of Google's Search Quality Rating Guidelines.

The world of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a complicated one. When it comes to making sure your site receives the best rankings in online search results, one can often feel like they are shooting in the dark, hoping that they are meeting the requirements of Google’s latest algorithm update.

However, with the recent release of the latest version of Google’s Search Quality Rating Guidelines, we have some guidance as to what Google is looking for when determining a site’s search rankings. These guidelines are used by Google’s internal evaluators to help them understand whether their algorithms are returning the best search results. According to Google, these guidelines “reflect what Google thinks search users want.”

So what can we learn from these guidelines? The document is long and detailed, but it contains some valuable insights about what Google is looking for when considering a website’s quality. Here are a few highlights:

Mobile Is Increasingly Important

One of the major shakeups in the SEO community this year came from Google’s addition of mobile-friendliness as a search ranking signal, and the Search Quality Rating Guidelines also emphasize the importance of mobile. They note some issues that can make websites difficult to use on mobile devices, including small screen sizes, the difficulty of entering information, and slower connection speeds. Website owners need to be aware of these issues and do everything they can to meet the needs of users on mobile devices if they want to continue to receive good search rankings.

E-A-T and YMYL

One of the key aspects that the Search Quality Rating Guidelines instruct Google’s raters to look at is a site’s expertise, authority, and trust (E-A-T). These factors help Google understand whether your site is known as an authority in your company’s area of expertise. Taking steps to establish your site in the areas of E-A-T are key to achieving the best search rankings.

Another term that the Guidelines use is “Your Money or Your Life”, or YMYL. This refers to sites which affect or influence people’s happiness, health, or wealth, such as shopping or finance sites or pages containing financial, medical, or legal information. These sites are held to Google’s highest standards, since they have the most impact on people’s lives. If your site falls into one of these areas, you’ll want to be especially sure that you are meeting Google’s quality requirements.

Types of Queries and Ratings

Reading through the Guidelines will provide a great deal of information about what Google thinks people are searching for and whether the results meet their needs. They define terms like “Know” and “Know Simple” queries and specify a “Needs Met” rating that determines whether certain search results meet the needs of mobile users. All of this helps us understand how Google looks at websites and search results, and reading through the document lets us examine some of the nitty gritty details of how Google works. 

However, most of us aren't looking to fully grasp Google's inner workings; we just want to make sure people can find us in online searches. With that in mind, what we can really take away from these Guidelines is that Google is continuing to emphasize the importance of mobile-friendliness, especially since searches made on mobile devices now outnumber those made on desktop computers. Right now, ensuring that your site is mobile-friendly should be the number one priority for anyone who wants to receive the best possible search rankings. If you want to be sure your site is mobile-friendly, you can use the mobile usability reports available in Google’s Webmaster Tools to determine whether there are any issues you need to address.

Do you have any questions about how to make sure your site is mobile-friendly or that its content reaches the level of quality that Google expects? Please contact us, and our SEO experts can work with you to make sure any issues you might have are found and addressed. If you have any other questions or comments, please feel free to leave a comment below. We’d love to hear from you!