As part of Google’s Search Quality Rater’s Guideline, it seeks to define the usefulness of a page in relation to a search query. The scale goes all the way up to the rank of Highest Quality Pages.
As web content producers, we talk about quality pages. We want our content to benefit the user, but when Google talks about the HIGHEST quality pages, it got me thinking. What differentiates a pages from quality, high quality, and highest quality? Google released their latest Search Quality Guidelines in November with a plethora of information on how to optimize a website for Google for the highest possible site quality. Several factors come into play, however I’ll hone in one.
No, we aren’t saying that if you sit in front of your computer and chow down while optimizing a page, then your content will be a higher quality. Sorry, it isn’t that easy.
E-A-T = Expertise – Authoritativeness – Trustworthiness
In Google’s own guidelines, high quality pages need a combination of expertise and trustworthiness to be considered authoritative. You can find authoritative sites across most internet sectors including health, news, gossip, humor, FAQ and more. Depending on the industry, high quality content can come from different sources. Google has varied guidelines on how high (and highest) quality pages are determined based off their topic matter. Here are a few examples:
- High quality medical advice should come from those with accreditation. The tone of this content should be professional and reviewed regularly.
- Advice topics such as a house flip or home remodel, which are usually projects that cost thousands of dollars, should be written by experts.
- Parenting, mental health articles, etc. should also come from experts because of the amount importance it can have for a family.
- High quality pages on hobbies, such as playing guitar, videography and more should also come from experts.
Not all topics require extremely formal expertise necessarily. For example, many people leave helpful reviews of products online, share travel information on blogs, and more. These people are experts in the sense that they have life experience. Another great example of this is caretakers of cancer patients sharing their experience on a discussion forum. These people are experts in the sense that they have lived through this experience firsthand. However, medical information pertaining to a person’s cancer treatment should come from health professionals.
As you can tell, there’s a theme that runs through these Highest Quality Pages. Do you see it? These are all things that can largely impact the user. Expertise is a vital component to creating pages Google favors. Overall, the type of expertise that is appropriate depends on the topic of the content.
E-A-T factors in with another important search guideline, Needs Met. Needs Met is a rating used to the measure the effectiveness of landing pages for a mobile user in particular.
Whereas a Needs Met rating is based on both the query and the result, E-A-T does not depend on the query, it is simply a rating on the quality of content.
These rating scales come into play for landing pages. Below are some general guidelines when assigning Needs Met and E-A-T guidelines:
Needs Met Rating Scale:
Fully Meets (FullyM): A rating category that only applies to particular queries and results. All mobile users would be happy with the result.
Highly Meets (HM): Helpful for most mobile users, some users may want supplemental results.
Moderately Meets (MM): Helpful for most users OR helpful for some mobile users. Some may want supplemental information.
Slightly Meets (SM): Not as helpful for mobile users. A connection between the query and the result exists, but not a strong enough one.
Fails to Meet (FailsM): Does not deliver adequate results.
Lowest: Do not satisfy a user and lack an element that prevents them from achieving their purpose. Web pages designed to harm or deceive users, collect money without aiding users, etc. are among the lowest quality pages.
Medium: Medium quality pages have elements that aren’t necessarily malicious, but also do not fulfill the needs of the user. These pages often do not have enough content, are lacking supplementary content, need more website maintenance, etc.
Highest: High quality pages satisfy users and achieve their purpose. The pages have enough information, are on a well-cared for website, have a functional page design, etc. High quality pages have enough expertise to be authoritative and trustworthy, a positive reputation, supplementary content and more. The distinction between high and highest quality pages lies in the level of E-A-T.
Combining both scales, we can get a better idea on how to assign both Needs Met and E-A-T guidelines:
- Results that offer no purpose or no satisfaction for users are FailsM, even if the E-A-T is great.
- Content that is on-topic and helpful but has low E-A-T ratings should be given lowers Needs Met ratings than on-topic, helpful, high E-A-T ratings. A post may be helpful, but also less helpful than other if the E-A-T ratings are lower.
- The HM rating in the Needs Met scale should be given to high E-A-T pages that are helpful and also a good for a user’s search query. The HM rating should not be used if a page has low E-A-T or has useless information such as outdated content. The HM rating may, however, be used for helpful, medium quality content.
- SM is a rating that should be used for pages that are on-topic, but lesser quality.
- Pages that have a low E-A-T are useless for a user’s search query should receive a FailsM rating.
- Inaccurate, deceiving, incorrect, or malicious content should receive the lowest E-A-T rating. Likewise, pages that are authoritative, expert and trustworthy should receive the highest E-A-T rating. Pages that are overall mediocre should be rated with Medium E-A-T.
Don’t let your website starve. If you are looking for expertise in all things E-A-T (or SEO) related, contact Forthea for guidance on how to develop a high quality site that is optimized for Google and a great user experience.