Skip to main content

Content Marketing

Why Google Can Evaluate Content Quality – Here’s Why #137


It’s hard enough for human judges to figure out something like whether or not America actually has talent. So how can a massive machine like Google figure out what humans will recognize as quality content?
In this episode of our Here’s Why digital marketing video series, Perficient Digital’s Eric Enge explains why Google is able to assess content quality at the massive scale of the web.

Don’t miss a single episode of Here’s Why. Click the subscribe button below to be notified via email each time a new video is published.

Subscribe to Here’s Why



Mark: Eric, let’s start off with this question. Why is Google concerned with identifying the quality of content on a page?
Eric: The answer is simple, Mark. It’s because Google’s users are concerned with that. They use Google to find the best possible answer or information and trust that the highest ranking sites for the query are going to give them that. It’s in Google’s best interest to keep satisfying those users, so they keep coming back to use Google.
Mark: Aren’t links good enough to determine that?
Eric: Links are still very powerful ranking signals and they should be. For the most part, they’re a voluntary action on the part of a page creator to send readers to another source. That’s not lightly done, and so those votes count. But Google realized a long time ago that links alone couldn’t be relied on to ensure users got the quality and experience that they were looking for once they clicked on a search result.
Mark: So that’s why they had to figure out how to assess content quality on a massive scale.
Eric: Exactly. Now having said that, it’s no easy task. It’s difficult enough for any set of human judges to discern what most people will think of as quality. So you can imagine the enormity and the task of teaching machine algorithms to do it.
Mark: Indeed. What are some clues we have as to how Google has gone about assessing content quality at the scale of the web?
Eric: One such clue is the algorithm update known as Panda, first introduced in 2011 and updated several times before being folded into Google’s core algorithm in early 2016.
Mark: What did Panda try to do?
Eric: At first, Panda seemed to go after the low-hanging fruit of poor content, the kind of thin pages that were churned out by content farms in the belief that just getting some keywords on a page was enough to rank in Google. Such writing is obvious to most humans because it doesn’t seem like it’s written for humans. And so it was probably an easy first lesson for Panda.
By the time Panda was rolled into the core algorithm, it was much more sophisticated, though, using more complex forms of document analysis. At the simplest level, this means using base documents that we know are good-quality as a sort of a standard against which other pages can be judged. Of course, it gets a lot more complicated than that.
Mark: How does Google ensure that these content analysis algorithms are on the right track?
Eric: That’s where Google’s human quality evaluators come in. We found out about their existence when the search quality rating guidelines that leaked onto the web–and some people think Google did it intentionally–back in 2001. These human evaluators don’t affect the search rankings directly. Instead, they rate many hundreds of sample webpages against Google guidelines. And the results of their evaluations are used to tweak and train the content quality algorithms.
Mark: Eric, thanks for that fascinating glimpse into Google’s efforts to get better at recognizing poor versus quality content. Now, of course, there is much more to the subject, and you cover that well in your article, “How Search Engines Analyze Webpage for Search Rankings in 2017.”

Don’t miss a single episode of Here’s Why. Click the subscribe button below to be notified via email each time a new video is published.

Subscribe to Here’s Why

See all of our Here’s Why Videos | Subscribe to our YouTube Channel

Thoughts on “Why Google Can Evaluate Content Quality – Here’s Why #137”

  1. Good article and video series for every SEO out there. In my opinion quality content is the key for higher rankings. This article describe this point nicely. Thanks for sharing this valuable content with us. Cheers.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Eric Enge

Eric Enge is part of the Digital Marketing practice at Perficient. He designs studies and produces industry-related research to help prove, debunk, or evolve assumptions about digital marketing practices and their value. Eric is a writer, blogger, researcher, teacher, and keynote speaker and panelist at major industry conferences. Partnering with several other experts, Eric served as the lead author of The Art of SEO.

More from this Author

Follow Us