Shell Robshaw-Bryan
Shell Robshaw-Bryan 4 April 2016

This Is What Google Wants From Your Website

A few months ago Google finally released the full version of their Search Quality Rating Guidelines. If you've not had chance to read the document in full yet, or aren't too sure what to make of it, I've pulled out some key takeaways that you should be aware of.

A few months ago Google finally released the full version of their Search Quality Rating Guidelines. If you've not had chance to read the document in full or aren't too sure what to make of it, I've pulled out some key takeaways that you should be aware of.

Google rank, authority and content quality have long been discussed, disputed and guided by a range of data from different sources. When it comes to evaluating the quality of a website however, we now have detailed insights into what criteria Google are really using.

Ultimately, a higher Page Quality rating will reflect positively in how well you rank in search, and in the document, Google clearly sets out (pg. 33, 6.0) what it means when it refers to low quality pages;

  • There is an unsatisfying amount of website information.
  • The page is lacking helpful SC (Supplementary Content).
  • The page design is lacking, for example, the page layout or use of space distracts from the MC (Main Content), making it difficult to use the MC.
  • The website is lacking maintenance and updates.

The good news is that, if you don’t share my enthusiasm for the minutiae of SEO, I’ve trawled through all 160 pages of the guidelines, and picked out some of the most salient bits so you don’t have to. You’re welcome.

Some Key Takeaways

1. Posting new content regularly is vital

We’ve known for years that the frequency (as well as quality) of which you publish new content on a website, plays a big part in how well it ranks. We know that having a blog is super important in this respect, and in the published guidelines (pg 37, 6.5.4), Google reiterates the importance of regularly publishing fresh content.

Publishing content (news, blog articles, website page updates) has a significant impact on a websites search quality rating, which means if you aren’t currently doing so, you need to start investing in and taking content creation much more seriously.

2. The quality of your content really matters

So what does ‘quality content’ really mean? Google determines the quality of content (pg 34, 6.1) based on;

“How much time, effort, expertise, and talent/skill have gone into the creation of the page.”

Whilst some may argue that this still leaves the quality of content open to individual interpretation, Google elaborates on this, citing potential issues with the following types of practices;

  • Buying content
  • Making things up
  • Filling out pages with large pictures or other distracting content
  • Copying content from other sources or paraphrasing
  • Using commonly known facts
  • Using lots of words to communicate basic ideas or facts
  • Small amount of content on a page

All of the above will contribute to your website receiving a lower quality ranking.

3. Stricter criteria exists for different kinds of site

Google cites the importance of supporting your content with references, expert opinion and research for certain kinds of websites. These are grouped together as YMYL pages (Your Money or Your Life) and refer to websites that stand to financially or otherwise seriously impact the lives of users.

Take special care and invest more into your content then if your website covers any of the following topics;

  • Finance
  • Shopping or eCommerce
  • Legal
  • Medical

4. Be helpful and support your visitors

Providing helpful supplementary content is  big and clever. Think about providing FAQ's, tutorials, how-to guides, walk-throughs, white papers, resources and forums; all types of helpful supplementary content.

5. Keep you page design simple

In light of all of the high quality content and helpful supplementary content that Google wants to see, keeping it simple might seem like an impossible task. Essentially though, Google wants to seen clean, logical design that puts the primary content front and centre. Try to make sure that your site is clutter-free and easy to follow, and free from too much that distracts from the main purpose of that individual page.

6. Mobile friendliness is important

Now, when Google says mobile friendly, firstly, it doesn't necessarily mean that only a responsive site will do. However, in many cases a responsive website is the most effective way of ensuring a website is mobile friendly. If your website doesn't display well on a mobile phone, this will mean trouble and will impact the rank of your website when people perform searches on their mobile device.


Trust comes up time and time again, and trust means authority. Trust factors include (but are not limited to), the content on your website (think about your 'about us' pages, your blog content and even your reviews). When it comes to content, think like a customer. What are the key concerns that a customer might want to address before they make a transaction on your website or before they contact your business? Ensure you build supplementary content aimed at improving the visitor experience.

Going out of your way to demonstrate expertise and foster trust is critical, and the provision of helpful supplementary content should be at the forefront of your content strategy. If your website still isn't mobile friendly, it makes sense to make this a priority, particularly if you are a B2C business.

To find out more, check out the great article on the Moz website, 30+ Important Takeaways from Google's Search Quality Rater's Guidelines.

Shell works for

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