If you’re immersed in the world of digital marketing like I am, or just have a site or two you religiously check the analytics for, you may have noticed an algorithm update that occurred right at the end of September (not sure if it was officially disclosed, but we’re certain it launched off based off of the largest fluctuations we’ve seen in a long time).  We’ve been doing a lot of digging to see what components of SEO/website guidelines it may have the most to do with, and we’re now very confident it has to do with the guidelines laid out by the following documentation, which is an evaluation worksheet comprised of 160+ pages that details how Google Quality Control employees approach rating websites for user experience.  In regard to what matters for us and our clientele, we scoured the entire document to analyze what new content standards may be.  We found these takeaways to be extremely interesting, and in the case for your own website, these may all be applicable to make sure you’re ahead of the game for providing content of the utmost quality.

Here are the biggest takeaways from this verbose dialogue about Search Quality and Value Evaluation:

  • The guidelines put a large emphasis on always attributing the creator of the content, or even the website, into play. An “About Us/Me” seems highly suggested, along with something in the footer attributing content or webmaster control from a company or an individual.
  • Allowing visitors to contact seems like it also has a big emphasis, so while the standard is to consistently feature a phone number on the website, it would also be helpful to provide a general inquiry email as well. In this case, I would recommend creating a “contact@” or “info@” for your domain and just have it forward to whatever email works best.
  • Page Quality is broken down into 5 main components, which seem to be the core of what Google feels is the best practices for content, and in turn, likely going to give you the highest likelihood of ranking your content and outranking your competition. PQ is comprised of:
    • The Purpose of the Page
    • Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness
    • Main Content Quality and AMOUNT
    • Website Information – who is responsible for the content?
    • Website reputation – always need links out to reputation online
  • One example of having the Highest Level Content was through utilizing your own curated policy guideline, cited here.
  • The document insinuates the external links to reliable sources should almost always be utilized for every piece of content developed. Whether it be to .gov, .edu. org. There should always be external link building citing sources.  They should be cited at the bottom of the content, or open in a new tab within the context.  External links have, in my experience, been more suggested or passively expected.  But in order to establish trustworthiness, it seems that linking to reliable sources that already have high authority would be a crucial step in the optimization of a page.
  • What are the characteristics of a high-quality page?
    • EAT (Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness)
    • Content threshold likely must be increased to 500-600 and have a solid H1 title always – really seems like examples of solid content are much more extensive in content. Possibly 1000+. In each example given between a Low-Quality page and a High-Quality page, it was extremely apparent that the HQ page often times had 2 to 4 times more content than the LQ if you were not taking anything else into consideration.
    • Always contain ample website info about who is responsible for the content, phone number, and email within the content
    • Website reputation within the content as well, such a awards, accolades, ratings, and testimonials that all link back to the original site they are featured on.
  • There was also thorough mention of offering as many assets on a page as possible, so imagery and/or video still seems encouraged or even expected.
  • If the topic of the page could be considered a candidate for needing freshness (Florida marijuana laws for example) the pages will need to be refreshed more often. Think about the content that you produce and how often it should be refreshed to maintain freshness.  Also consider if you feature dates or places in time (like having titles that feature previous years).
  • Would consider having search bars as an effort to improve user experience.

Analyzing what is occurring with these changes to content will still take time, but it is safe to say we’re on the path of eliminating websites with thin, plagiarized, or unhelpful content.  There is more a reason than ever to believe that content ranking the highest, even without the most prominent links, will require the following (to recap):

  • A higher threshold of content, even on specific topics. 350-450 word blogs and articles will likely always be dominated by those that can offer quality information that spans between 600-1000 words.
  • Quality external and internal linking
  • A lucid and well-thought H1 to lead the article or blog
  • Use of other media assets like pictures and videos
  • Content that is obviously researched and/or completely from an expert so it shares no similarity with other webpages on the same topic

Think you may need assistance writing web content with these new, more stringent requirements.  Perhaps an audit to see if your content is currently up to snuff as well?  Always feel free to reach out to us to learn more about how we can assist with the content component of your SEO strategy.