According to a post on 's blog (http://tgcafe.it/1w6fSON), Google has completely rewritten the Quality Ratings Guideline, the resource that their team of quality raters uses to rate websites for Google.
It has some great new insights into how Google is approaching the search results and what it takes to be a top ranked website.
Side note: even though there have been a few older copies of Google Quality Rating Guidelines in the wild at one point or another, Google wants to keep them from being leaked out again. Not sure how Jennifer got to have a copy, but she mentions several times in the comments 'Unfortunately I was sworn to secrecy and promised not to pass it on.'
♨ This is a brand new version from the ground up; not just a rewrite of the old one.
♨ The new emphasis is the idea of E-A-T, which is a website’s “expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness”.
♨ Lacking a certain amount of E-A-T is enough of a reason for a rater to give any page a low quality rating.
What makes an expert?
♨ Google does stress to raters that there are many kinds of experts, all dependent on the topic area.
♨ Apparently, Google asks their raters to spend quite a bit of time rating just the knowledge graphs alone.
Many Ads = Low Quality
♨ The new guidelines definitely want raters to look at advertising on the page to determine if there is an overabundance of it.
Google specifically mentions layouts that are all advertising at the top, and requires scrolling to see the content – to the point where people could initially believe that there is no content on the page at all. The same for advertising designed to look like navigation links or secondary content.
Supplementary (secondary) Content
♨ What is secondary content: anything on a page that isn’t the main content or advertisements. They consider it important to the overall user experience.
My own conclusions on what quality supplementary content might be for any blog:
* relevant related posts or videos - at the bottom of a post or in the sidebar or both;
* relevant additional resources - could be in the form of external or internal links;
* additional forms of content consumption - like adding a SoundCloud audio of the post, a Slideshare presentation with the gist of the post, etc.
Bad Supplementary Content
♨ they are warning about deceptive ad placement where users can accidentally click on an ad or are lured to click an ad, believing it to be content on the site and not an advertisement.
♨ They also specifically mention advertisements placed under headers such as “Top Posts”.
Poor Page Design
This is more about poor advertisement placement once again.
♨ Google mentions tactics such as popups, large quantity of ads with only minor content and text ads in navigation.
♨ Google is also calling out a specific advertising tactic that many, many websites use – and that is inserting advertisements a few times in the middle of the main content, breaking it up with main content – ad – main content – ad – main content.
♨ And those fancy links in navigation that are really ads? Webmasters should probably start rethinking those too.
♨ Google considers Inline Advertising (those double underlined links that pop up an ad when you mouseover the link) distracting and can make the main content on the page difficult to read, which equals a poor user experience.
♨ Reference to “thin” affiliate sites has been removed from the new guide.
Does that mean that Google feels spam affiliate sites are a thing of the past and don’t rank today anyways, that poor quality sites would get a low rating regardless, or that they are happy for affiliate sites to rank, as long as they have some of the other criteria needed for an above average rated website.
♨ It is clear that Google is putting a greater emphasis on reputation than they did before.
♨ Google stresses that a webpage cannot be given a High rating if the site has a negative reputation.
About Us and Contact info
♨ Google is looking to put a greater emphasis on the presence of such pages as a sign of a high quality website.
What's been removed from the Guidelines?
There were a few items that have been removed from the new Quality Guidelines at all:
1. all reference to spam;
3. distracting content (now considered and explained in 'secondary content' section);
4. phrase “Low quality pages may only be acceptable to users if there are no other higher quality pages.”
5. hidden text.
It's safe to assume that most of the things above are generally caught by algorithms nowadays, thus there was no reason to mention them in the new guide.
Jennifer Slegg also mentions that there will be more detailed follow ups on this.
Each day for the next week or so, we are going to do some in-depth analysis of the new parts of the guidelines, particularly how it will impact SEOs and what SEOs should start to think about differently.
Be sure to visit her post for more: http://tgcafe.it/1w6fSON