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Why Google’s Search Quality Raters Guidelines Matter to Content Marketers – Here’s Why #203


Google publishes regular updates to its Search Quality Raters Guidelines. What should content marketers take from them?
In this episode of the popular Here’s Why digital marketing video series, Mark Traphagen explains what the guidelines are and how their recommendations can help you do better content marketing.

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Eric: Mark, why don’t you start by explaining what the Google Search Quality Raters Guidelines are? And since that’s a mouthful, maybe we’ll just refer to it as SQRG for the rest of this video.
Mark: That sounds like a great idea, Eric.
For a number of years now, Google has contracted a group of people who are trained to evaluate the quality of the top search results for a given query. The SQRG is the training manual and handbook for those raters. It helps them understand what Google thinks is a high-quality page that completely satisfies the needs of the reader.
Eric: Do we have access to those guidelines?
Mark: We do now. We didn’t always; they used to be considered top secret. But a copy always somehow kind of leaked out. Many of us suspected that Google allowed the leaks because they really wanted to be nudging us toward the standards in those documents.
But in any case, starting a few years ago, they’ve made available a public copy of the document each time it’s updated.
Eric: And what are the search quality raters actually doing?
Mark: Their job is to help Google search ranking engineers evaluate how their algorithms are doing at providing us with the best search results. Their feedback helps those engineers to know where they might need to tweak an algorithm to get better results that will satisfy real human users.
Eric: Do the guidelines tell us Google’s ranking factors, at least as far as content on the page is concerned?
Mark: No, they don’t. I mean, at least not in any direct way.
The guidelines are not meant to delineate specific ranking factors. In fact, Google’s John Mueller emphasized this in a recent webmasters hangout when he said, “It’s not the case that we take the quality rater guidelines and, one-to-one, turn them into a code that does all the ranking.”
A screenshot of Google's John Mueller during his webmaster hangout
However, I think they are still highly useful to any of us who do content strategy or creation for two reasons.
First, hey tell us about the kind of pages and content Google aspires to have ranking highly in their results. Now, as John Mueller put it in that same video, they give some idea of where we would like to hit with regards to search.
So even if you can’t map things in the guidelines, one-to-one, with specific ranking factors, if you’re striving to improve those things, you’re closer to becoming a site Google wants to rank well.
Second, we should always remember that bringing in organic search traffic isn’t the only job for our content. It’s just as important, and maybe even more important, that our content pages are truly useful, helpful, complete, easy to use for our real human site visitors.
Our content is often the first impression someone has of our brand. It’s your first salesperson. You should want to present your best face, and the SQRG is really an excellent tutorial on creating high-quality web pages for real humans.
Eric: To finish up, can you share one insight from the guidelines that would help our viewers create better content?
Mark: There’s a concept that flows throughout the entire document that I think sums up Google’s take on quality content, that’s known by the acronym E-A-T, or EAT, which stands for Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness.
Google is clear that they don’t use that all the time. It’s more important on sites that are your money/your life type sites, but I still believe that focusing on those standards is the most important goal you can have for your content marketing.
Let’s start with expertise. Your content creators need to know what they’re talking about. In the internet age, it’s way too easy for people to discover errors or miss directions.
Next, work to build authority in your space. This takes time because you have to build a track record of content that both influencers and regular people come to rely on.
And finally, be trustworthy. Don’t take any shortcuts that could compromise your reputation. Respect your audience, and they will repay you with their attention.

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Thoughts on “Why Google’s Search Quality Raters Guidelines Matter to Content Marketers – Here’s Why #203”

  1. Another awesome video team. Haven’t been on here for a while, and glad I came to check out what is new 🙂
    Thanks for linking the resource! Some real interesting guidelines.
    Awesome stuff. Keep up the great work.
    All the best.

  2. I had no idea about the existence of that Google document. I’m hoping to build a new website soon, but I should read over all the guidelines first.

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Mark Traphagen

Mark Traphagen was our Content Strategy Director for Perficient Digital until February of 2019. He has been named one of the most influential content and social media authors in numerous industry listings.

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