Contrary to popular belief, not all that goes on behind the scenes with regard to Google’s SERP rankings is controlled by machines. Instead, there is also a bank of professional human raters at work, charged with the task of determining search results quality.
In terms of what such individuals are looking for, a document was recently leaked detailing the guidelines provided by Google – some key examples extracted and takeaways from the document including the following:
1. Human raters have no influence over SERP rankings themselves, but instead help Google determine future algorithm tweaks. Which in turn means that no matter what a rater thinks of your website, it will not have a direct impact on its position in the rankings in the immediate moment.
2. There are three factors taken into account by raters when it comes to determining the quality of a page – trustworthiness, authoritativeness and expertise.
3. The primary purpose of human raters is to determine whether or not the results successfully met the needs of the searcher. They work with complex analytics and the sites themselves to evaluate Google’s own algorithms, in terms of performance and accuracy.
4. One of the most important things taken into account by raters is whether or not the site is mobile-friendly – those that are not instantly fail. Google has been paying greater attention to mobile-friendly site content as of late than ever before – a trend set to continue indefinitely.
5. Length of content only has any relevance if the content itself is of comprehensive value and relevance. Expanding word count just for the sake of it does not bring the page any additional value in the eyes of Google.
6. Google is beginning to pay much closer attention than ever before to the kind of supplementary content that either takes away from the value of the page or is simply distracting. This includes unnecessary pop-ups.
7. The vast majority of solid websites are rated as ‘medium’ which is actually a decent accomplishment. You have to do something particularly special to achieve a higher rating.
8. One highly important point for those selling services or products is to make the company’s contact details as clear and obvious as possible. It should not be necessary to look for them and the required information should appear on multiple pages.
9. Google is also continually showing growing preference to websites that display customer feedback. Quite simply, the more reviews, recommendations and items of customer feedback you collect, the better for your overall SEO performance.
10. The smallest details can have the biggest impact when it comes to the way in which a website is interpreted by Google – spelling mistakes and grammatical errors rarely going overlooked.
11. Scrapped content never slips under Google’s radar and should therefore be avoided at all costs. Breaking the rules may not lead to an immediate drop in the rankings, but could prompt a manual site inspection that may lead to penalisation.