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How Google Recognizes & Rewards Quality Content
Is your website content high-quality?
When I say high-quality, I mean free from spelling errors, grammatically correct, completely covers the topic, is engaging and well-written, etc.
Here’s why I ask—a few days ago, Blue Corona’s CEO, Ben Landers, sent our Digital Marketing Specialist, Betsy, this email that made me do a double-take:
I came across this page searching for Invisalign:
Invisalign is not cheap. Anyone with $XXXX to plop down for it is likely going to be well-educated. Would you trust your dental health to a practice like this??
It would have me scratching my head.
When she shared it with me for this blog, I was shocked that a reputable (and popular) orthodontic practice would have such blatant errors in its page. When you think about how much good copywriting matters, it’s downright dangerous—60 percent of consumers won’t purchase from a brand with poorly written content. Not only that, but compelling copy draws 7.8 times more site traffic and produces brand recall which brings higher engagement rates.
Here’s the thing—quality content isn’t just important to your users. Google can recognize quality content and rewards it with higher search rankings.
Why Quality Content Is So Important to Your Business
Quality COntent = Increased Search Rankings = increased Organic website Traffic
Your prospective customers rely on search engines to find the products and services they need—this is the heart of inbound marketing. Just like you, they’re busy people! Don’t expect them to scroll too far down search results pages. For most products and services, the percentage of searchers that venture past the first page of results is minimal. If your website doesn’t have strong search ranking positions for the services you offer, you’re losing out on potential customers. Better search rankings mean more traffic to your website, giving you the chance to sell your products and/or services to a large market and improve your lead generation opportunities.
Quality Content = Improved Brand Image
Web searchers believe that pages ranked higher on Google for search terms must feature authoritative, relevant content. Google itself has come out and stated the following: “Since the beginning, we’ve focused on providing the best user experience possible. Whether we’re designing a new Internet browser or a new tweak to the look of the homepage, we take great care to ensure that they will ultimately serve you, rather than our own internal goal or bottom line.” Google’s stated philosophy is simple: focus on the user and all else will follow. Google frequently updates its search algorithm for quality assurance purposes—the end goal is to better serve the needs of searchers. Expect searchers to have a more positive perception of brands that are ranked higher on search results.
So, What Is Quality Content? Google Says You Are What You E-A-T
E-A-T stands for Expertise-Authority-Trustworthiness, and it’s how Google defines quality content.
Here’s what E-A-T actually means:
- Expertise – For a high ranking, you need to be viewed as an expert in your field. Your skill needs to be demonstrated and backed up—not only by your content but also by your credentials and your author “biography” across the web. Expertise is incredibly important for financial, medical, or legal websites that can impact the health and well-being of the reader (more on YMYL pages further down). Other signs of expertise are on-page indicators like bounce rate, shares, and time spent on-page.
- Authoritativeness – To prove that you’re an authority you need to have authority indicators that point back to your website and article. This can include backlinks from reputable sources, awards, affiliations, and reviews. Your content also needs to be well-written.
- Trustworthiness – You need to prove that users can trust you. This applies toward everything on your website that will make users feel safe. As an extension of authority, trustworthiness can also be measured by recent reviews, footprints across the web, and even your website security. For example, 82 percent of people won’t browse an unsecured website. If you’re an e-commerce business or you have contact forms on your website, it needs to be secure for you to be considered trustworthy.
That’s not all, either. You’d do well to also follow these basic principles listed in Google’s webmaster quality guidelines:
- Make pages primarily for users, not for search engines.
- Don’t deceive your users.
- Avoid tricks intended to improve search engine rankings. A good rule of thumb is whether you’d feel comfortable explaining what you’ve done to a website that competes with you, or to a Google employee. Another useful test is to ask, “Does this help my users? Would I do this if search engines didn’t exist?”
- Think about what makes your website unique, valuable, or engaging. Make your website stand out from others in your field.
What Is Low-Quality Content?
Now you may be asking, “well, what is low-quality content?” Low-quality content can be spammy or filled with misinformation, but what makes it bad at the end of the day is it doesn’t meet the needs of the user. Just like viewers today expect high-quality content on YouTube and Netflix, consumers expect quality content in everything they engage with online.
Here’s how Google defines low-quality content:
If a page has one of the following characteristics, it’s considered low quality:
- The quality of the main content is low.
- The page returns an error message. This doesn’t matter if the rest of the website is of a high rating.
- There is an unsatisfying amount of main content for the purpose of the page.
- The author of the page or website does not have enough expertise for the topic of the page and/or the website is not trustworthy or authoritative for the topic.
- The website has a negative reputation.
- The sub-content is distracting or unhelpful for the purpose of the page.
- There is an unsatisfying amount of website information.
- The page is lacking helpful sub-content.
- The page design is lacking. For example, the page layout or use of space distracts from the main content, making it difficult to use.
- The website is lacking maintenance and updates.
Lowest Quality Pages:
The following characteristics are examples of the lowest quality pages:
- Harmful, untrustworthy, or malicious pages. Pages designed to get personal information for malicious reasons or download harmful content.
- Pages with little to no purpose.
- Deceptive or pages. These are pages that are designed to deceive users or trick search engines.
- Deceptive design. This includes designs that top-load ads, designs that make ads look like search boxes, and designs that make ads look like a personally curated directory page.
- Sneaky redirects. Pages setup with numerous redirects at no use to the user, or that redirect to a harmful or malicious page.
- Pages on Your Money, Your Life websites with inadequate or no website information.
- Pages that were designed to make money with little to no attempt to help users.
- Pages on abandoned, hacked, or defaced websites.
- Keyword stuffing.
- Automatically generated, copied/scraped, or gibberish main content.
Think of the difference as looking up quality content in Urban Dictionary vs. Merriam-Webster. Though they both call themselves dictionaries, you’d receive pretty different results. But, let’s be honest… you’d only consider one of one of those trustworthy enough to use in a term paper.
Google understands that the user can benefit when a source is valuable, credible, and informative, and Google rewards such content.
Your Money, Your Life (YMYL)
Some types of pages could potentially impact the future happiness, health, financial stability, or safety of users. These pages are held to a higher standard and need exceptional E-A-T in order to rank well. Google calls such pages “Your Money or Your Life” pages, or YMYL. The following are examples of YMYL pages:
- Shopping or financial transaction pages: webpages that allow users to make purchases, transfer money, pay bills, etc. online (such as online stores and online banking pages).
- Financial information pages: webpages that provide advice or information about investments, taxes, retirement planning, home purchase, paying for college, buying insurance, etc.
- Medical information pages: webpages that provide advice or information about health, drugs, specific diseases or conditions, mental health, nutrition, etc.
- Legal information pages: webpages that provide legal advice or information on topics such as divorce, child custody, creating a will, becoming a citizen, etc.
- News articles or public/official information pages important for having an informed citizenry: webpages that include information about local/state/national government processes, policies, people, and laws; disaster response services; government programs and social services; news about important topics such as international events, business, politics, science, and technology; etc. Keep in mind that not all news articles are necessarily considered YMYL.
- Other: there are many other topics that you may consider YMYL, such as child adoption, car safety information, etc.
How to Write Quality Content
Quality content writing isn’t as challenging as it might seem. Sure, it’ll take a little more effort, but a little effort can reap big rewards in your rankings.
Let’s discuss how you can improve your content marketing:
Writing quality content begins with search intent. Understanding what has brought the reader to your site is essential. What is your reader looking for? Whether it be an answer, a service, an item, or instructions, if they don’t find what they’re looking for on your page, you’ve lost a conversion opportunity. When creating content, create it with the user search intent in mind. We recommend using tools like Google Search Console to find what queries people are making to find your site.
Other quality factors, like working links, reading level, and loading time can improve the user experience. By keeping tabs on these when writing and optimizing content, you ensure that you’re providing the best user experience possible.
Like some of the best things in life, quality content is meant to be shared. But content that is never clicked on can never be shared. Engaging users through dynamic titles and meta descriptions are likely to improve the click-through rate. Once you get a user to click on your content, that isn’t enough to have it spread. Your content needs to hold value, which can be found in unique information, digestible content, and more. Plus, when other sites link to yours as a source, it increases your site’s authority, another important ranking factor.
What Is Search Intent (or Keyword Intent)?
The search intent definition is the consumer’s intent, or real meaning, behind Google searches—the “why” of the keywords. It’s also known as a commercial or buyer’s intent. Over time, Google’s algorithms have identified four main types of search queries:
- Know query, where the user wants information about something. Ex:
- “What is commercial intent?”
- “How many planets are in the universe?”
- “Why is Jon Snow so moody?”
- Do query, where the user wants to take action on something. Ex:
- “Buy new iPhone”
- “Best emergency plumber near me”
- “Christmas presents for people I hate”
- Website query, where the user wants to go to a specific website or webpage. Ex:
- “Wells Fargo login”
- Visit-in-person query, where the user wants to find and visit the physical address of a location. Ex:
- “Closest Trader Joe’s”
- “Bed Bath and Beyond near me”
- “Liquor store within walking distance” (hey, we all have our days…)
It’s Time to Up the Quality of Your Website Content
High-quality content is essential for making ranking improvements that last. Google deliberately states that content quality is part of the many factors considered when raking pages. Without quality content, your webpages lose value. If there is no reason for users to visit your pages, there is no purpose, and as we mentioned before, there is always a purpose or intent when using a search engine.
SEO alone is not enough anymore. Tips and tricks for SEO like overusing keywords may have worked a few years ago, but in today’s search climate, they’re no longer valid. In fact, they could be some of the worst SEO mistakes you might be making. Sure, SEO techniques seem like they change constantly these days, but one thing is for sure: quality content will never go out of style.
Needless to say, don’t try to fool Google.
A focus on content quality creates a powerful SEO strategy because it is geared toward offering a positive search experience. All this takes time, however, which you may not have. While you’re out fixing an HVAC unit, running a car dealership, or training clients at your fitness center, allow the content marketing specialists at Blue Corona to handle your online marketing strategy.
Provide us all the relevant, useful literature you have about your products and/or services so we can understand your industry and craft a content strategy that will help drive targeted traffic to your website and improve your lead generation opportunities.
100+ Copywriting Power Words
About The Author: As Manager, SEO Services at Blue Corona, Rachel oversees our SEO team's initiatives, growth, and strategy. She is passionate about using data to push the limits of what our clients think is possible for their business. Outside of work, she loves to work on DIY projects, watch documentaries, and explore all that Charlotte has to offer!
View more blogs by Rachel Tinker
The information on this website is for informational purposes only; it is deemed accurate but not guaranteed. It does not constitute professional advice. All information is subject to change at any time without notice. Contact us for complete details.