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Google’s new search quality guidelines

Google released their latest 160-page search quality guidelines. The last previous published was the abridged version two years ago that was a reaction to the leaked versions from 2008, 2011, and 2012 (notwithstanding the 2014 version) for the purpose of transparency.

Below are some key takeaways from the guidelines:

  • High-quality standards are set on Your Money or Your Life (YMYL) pages – These pages include shopping transaction pages, financial information pages, medical information pages, legal information pages, and similar sites. The reason for the placing high-quality standards on these pages is how these can affect “the future happiness, health, or wealth of users.” Low-quality YMYL pages can negatively impact one’s happiness and health, so it is important to build useful pages under this umbrella term.
  • The value placed on Expertise/Authoritativeness/Trustworthiness (E-A-T) –high-quality content must come from E-A-T sources. E-A-T is built by acquiring accreditation if necessary. For instance, medical information found online must come from accredited medical persons or organizations. Corollary, first-hand experience counts as a form of expertise. For example, a user sharing how he survived cancer is a form of expertise.
  • Needs Met guidelines cater to mobile usability – Web pages are gauged by how they are optimized for mobile viewing and the satisfaction they provide to users about the search query. The guidelines are loosely divided into five rating

What to make out of these quality guidelines: All signs point to improving the mobile usability of your site (as already mentioned above), as well as establishing yourself as an influence within your niche. By building your expertise and knowledge in your industry, you can establish your authority as a subject matter expert, thus earning the trust of your audience.

You can start by launching an influencer marketing campaign to establish your online visibility. From there, you can slowly build yourself as an authority based on different factors such as your site’s Domain Authority, social proof (testimonials from customers and social media shares), and blog comments, among other factors.

Update: Notified by Google after this post was written – they have new guidelines which require no more pop-ups on mobile pages (e.g. responsive pages). Essential to act on before 2017 when this change comes into affect.

To help improve your site performance, in the long run, using user engagement as a factor, you may need to use tools to gain insight on how much interaction your site pages is getting from visitors.

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