The Most Important SEO TIP: Create High-quality Pages

The web is packed with SEO tips but if you ask me, if all boils down to this:

If you want the number 1 spot you’re going to have to convince Google that you have the best-quality content for that search.

Ok so, what is high quality content in Google’s eyes?

We can start out by getting some guidance straight from the horse’s mouth, Google’s quality guidelines.

The quality guidelines are there to let us all know what Google will respond negatively to when they are judging a website.

Here are the basic principles:

Basic principles

  • 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.

Google Webmaster Guidelines

These four basic principles are the foundations of modern search optimisation.

Webmasters who spend their energies upholding the spirit of the basic principles will provide a much better user experience and subsequently enjoy better ranking than those who spend their time looking for loopholes they can exploit.
Google Webmaster Guidelines

What does a high-quality page look like?

As Google puts it, “High quality pages are satisfying and achieve their purpose well”.

It doesn’t matter what the purpose is, it can be pure entertainment or engineering reference materials. If the page satisfies its visitors, you’re on the right track.

High quality content takes time and skill to put together, just like a chapter in a book. You can’t just copy and paste a load of articles from elsewhere on the web and expect that Google will rank you very high.

If you’re looking to improve an article on your site, one approach could be to create a video for it. Users like rich content like this and may stay around longer to watch a video than they would to read your post.

If your page is informational, it’s important that the information presented is trustworthy. If you are presenting medical or legal advice this becomes even more important.

Act like a scientist, explain your reasoning and cite your sources so your users can trust that you haven’t just made the article up off the top of your head.

If your webpage is entertainment like fiction or satire, you don’t have to worry about citations obviously, but make sure your users understand that what they’re reading isn’t meant to be taken as fact.

While many web users like to remain anonymous while they’re online, this isn’t a great approach for business, since customers are comfortable when they know that someone is accountable for the website.

 

Here are some more pointers from the Google quality guidelines:

Specific guidelines

Avoid the following techniques:

Follow good practices like these:

  • Monitoring your site for hacking and removing hacked content as soon as it appears
  • Preventing and removing user-generated spam on your site

Google Webmaster Guidelines

What is google thinking when it judges a page?

When Google looks at your web page, and it wants to figure out its ranking, what are the kind of things it looks at?

All websites are different, and every niche is different, so Google tries to rank sites in terms of content quality.

Below are some examples of the kinds of questions Google asks when it is trying to figure out if your content is high or low quality.

These tips come straight from Google’s webmaster guidelines.

  • Would you trust the information presented in this article?
  • Is this article written by an expert or enthusiast who knows the topic well, or is it more shallow in nature?
  • Does the site have duplicate, overlapping, or redundant articles on the same or similar topics with slightly different keyword variations?
  • Would you be comfortable giving your credit card information to this site?
  • Does this article have spelling, stylistic, or factual errors?
  • Are the topics driven by genuine interests of readers of the site, or does the site generate content by attempting to guess what might rank well in search engines?
  • Does the article provide original content or information, original reporting, original research, or original analysis?
  • Does the page provide substantial value when compared to other pages in search results?
  • How much quality control is done on content?
  • Does the article describe both sides of a story?
  • Is the site a recognized authority on its topic?
  • Is the content mass-produced by or outsourced to a large number of creators, or spread across a large network of sites, so that individual pages or sites don’t get as much attention or care?
  • Was the article edited well, or does it appear sloppy or hastily produced?
  • For a health related query, would you trust information from this site?
  • Would you recognize this site as an authoritative source when mentioned by name?
  • Does this article provide a complete or comprehensive description of the topic?
  • Does this article contain insightful analysis or interesting information that is beyond obvious?
  • Is this the sort of page you’d want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend?
  • Does this article have an excessive amount of ads that distract from or interfere with the main content?
  • Would you expect to see this article in a printed magazine, encyclopedia or book?
  • Are the articles short, unsubstantial, or otherwise lacking in helpful specifics?
  • Are the pages produced with great care and attention to detail vs. less attention to detail?
  • Would users complain when they see pages from this site?

Simply reading the list above can give you a great foundation of knowledge on which to build your SEO strategy.

You can afford to ignore many of the technical details of SEO if you just focus on creating great content and providing a good experience to your visitors.

Keywords & Pay Per Click: The Basics

Things have gotten more complex in the SEO world in recent years, it’s much harder to rank by simply obsessing about keywords.

However, it’s still useful to understand the concept. Keywords and key phrases are still at the heart of Google AdWords, and still play a role in search.

ok, so What’s a Keyword?

When you go to Google and begin to type in your search, Google will show you different searches it has seen before so you can skip typing the rest in.

These suggestions are examples of keywords and key phrases.

 

Any word or phrase can be a keyword, but some get searched for more than others.

 

If you are looking to buy a phone online, you’ll search something like buy phone online ireland.

You’ll notice that when you submit that search you’ll see some results with a little ad icon next to it.

These ads were placed there by businesses bidding on that key-phrase: buy phone online ireland.

How To Do Keyword Research For Your Business

Here’s a simple formula for keyword research:

  1. Think about what your business does for your customers.
  2. Think about what you would type into Google, if you were looking for that service.
  3. Do you have webpages and content that would be a good match for that search?
    • If not, you should think about creating & improving your website’s content about that topic, particularly if you feel it is central to your business.
  4. Try running the search yourself and see what the top ranking results are like.
    1. What content do these websites have that yours doesn’t?
    2. Do these sites provide a better user experience than yours does?
  5. Create a list of things you notice about these websites, and  write some notes on how your site really stacks up against the competition.

This method will pretty quickly build up a list of opportunities for you to improve your content.

After you’re finished your research session, get started on improving one thing about your website.

Once you get going, you’ll find it easy to spot improvements you can make to your site.

So what does good content look like? Well that leads us to our next section, deep inside Google:

Google’s Search Quality Evaluators and the Page Quality Rating

Google hires evaluators to help refine its ranking algorithm. Much of Google is automated, but Robots don’t search on Google, people do. Google needs these evaluators to add a human touch to their ranking system.

The evaluators don’t directly influence individual website rankings, but they help train the search system to recognise high-quality and low-quality websites.

The evaluators give a score to each web page, based on guidelines, and these guidelines represent what Google’s users want.

For example, when you run a search for bank in your area, you want to find a real bank, not a malicious website that is trying to steal from you. That would be a very negative user experience, and would reflect very badly on Google’s search service.

The search quality evaluators let Google pin point exactly what it is that their users are looking for.

That’s why it is very interesting to examine the guidelines given to these Search Quality evaluators.

Modern SEO is less about keyword stuffing and more about impressing these evaluators.

What is The Purpose Of Your Page?

As you can see if you read Google’s public search quality guidelines, the purpose of your webpage matters a lot to Google.

The purpose of a page is the reason or reasons why the page was created.

Every page on the Internet is created for a purpose, or for multiple purposes.

Most pages are created to be helpful for users. Some pages are created merely to make money, with little or no effort to help users.

Some pages are even created to cause harm to users.

The first step in understanding a page is figuring out its purpose.

Once the Google evaluator understands the purpose of the page, she can determine how well it serves that purpose, and begin to figure out its Page Quality score. There are several factors that go into this score, for example:

“1. Does this article have spelling, stylistic, or factual errors?”
2. Was the article edited well, or does it appear sloppy or hastily produced?”
“3. Are the pages produced with great care and attention to detail vs. less attention to detail?”
Would you expect to see this article in a printed magazine, encyclopedia or book?”

How to avoid The dreaded “Low Quality” label

If you want to rank well in Google, you’re going to want to avoid getting slapped with the low-quality label.

If this happens to your site, its because your site was showing similar characteristics to other websites that have been previously determined to be low-quality by a Search Quality evaluator or by some quality control system.

There are too many websites out there for Google to manually mark all of them, so they employ machine learning and lots data to try to recognise quality in a website automatically.

It’s a strange thought to consider a machine interpreting what a quality article looks like. It might a somewhat similar challenge to asking a computer what a good painting looks like.

Ok, so what is a low quality site?

Low-quality pages are unsatisfying or lacking in some element that prevents them from achieving their purpose well.

An unsatisfying amount of MC [Main Content] is a sufficient reason to give a page a Low-quality rating.

The Main Content

The main content is the reason that the page exists. The navigation is not involved in the main content. The footer links also have nothing to do with main content.

Low-quality MC is a sufficient reason to give a page a Low-quality rating.
Lacking appropriate E-A-T is sufficient reason to give a page a Low-quality rating.
Negative reputation is sufficient reason to give a page a Low-quality rating.

What is Expertise, Authoritativeness & Trustworthiness (E-A-T)

As you can see above, the guidelines are mentioning some E-A-T thing…

What is that?

Since the spam artists can use automation to build giant websites that are packed with text and content, Google needs to try and look beyond  the content in some way to figure out if a given page has high or low quality content on it.

The Google ranking system attempts to assess the expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness of every page it ranks, in order to sort the chaff from the wheat in it’s results.

Imagine a user searching for health related information. The user is expecting to find something they can rely on, and many websites make claims which are simply untrue. Google gets around this by building a profile on the source of the information.

The Google guidelines show how this works:

LACK OF AUTHOR EXPERTISE
You should consider who is responsible for the content of the website or content of the page you are evaluating. Does the person or organization have sufficient expertise for the topic? If expertise, authoritativeness, or trustworthiness is lacking, use the Low rating.

There is no evidence that the author has medical expertise. Because this is a YMYL medical article, lacking expertise is a reason for a Low rating.

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. In other words, the page/website is lacking E-A-T.

What type of websites are automatically marked as “lowest quality”?

A disaster for your rankings would be getting marked with the “lowest” quality score by a Google evaluator, or by the algorithm.

Google has lots of policies on this, and there are certain types of webpages that they will try to always mark with the “lowest” rating.

Let’s have a look at what the guidelines say about when the evaluators should mark a page with the “lowest” quality score:

P.S. MC stands for “Main Content” below:

True lack of purpose pages or websites.
Sometimes it is difficult to determine the real purpose of a page.

Pages on Your Money or Your Life websites with completely inadequate or no website information.

Pages or websites that are created to make money with little to no attempt to help users.

Pages with extremely low or lowest quality MC.
If a page is deliberately created with no MC, use the Lowest rating. Why would a page exist without MC? Pages with no MC are usually lack of purpose pages or deceptive pages.

Webpages that are deliberately created with a bare minimum of MC, or with MC which is completely unhelpful for the purpose of the page, should be considered to have no MC
Pages deliberately created with no MC should be rated Lowest.

High Ranking Content Takes Effort

The more competitive your niche, the harder you will have to work to get to the top of the results.

It should be original content also. If you’re lashing pages together at breakneck speed by simply copy/pasting from other websites, it’s likely that Google is already demoting your site because of that:

Important: The Lowest rating is appropriate if all or almost all of the MC on the page is copied with little or no time, effort, expertise, manual curation, or added value for users. Such pages should be rated Lowest, even if the page assigns credit for the content to another source.

Important: The Lowest rating is appropriate if all or almost all of the MC on the page is copied with little or no time, effort, expertise, manual curation, or added value for users.

Such pages should be rated Lowest, even if the page assigns credit for the content to another source.

If you don’t look after your website, it will drop in the rankings

An automatic low quality score is awarded to websites that aren’t getting the love they need from their webmaster.

Pages on abandoned, hacked, or defaced websites.

Pages or websites created with no expertise or pages that are highly untrustworthy, unreliable, unauthoritative, inaccurate, or misleading.

If the website feels inadequately updated and inadequately maintained for its purpose, the Low rating is probably warranted.

The website is lacking maintenance and updates.

Websites ‘Lacking Care and Maintenance’ Are Rated ‘Low Quality’.

Sometimes a website may seem a little neglected: links may be broken, images may not load, and content may feel stale or out-dated.

If the website feels inadequately updated and inadequately maintained for its purpose, the Low rating is probably warranted.

Learn from your user metrics

You can add an analytics system such as Google Analytics to your website by simply including a snippet of code in your website.

Analytics gives you the data you need to figure out what is going on with the visitors that come to your site. Do they stay for a while and browse, or do they bounce back out of your site in 5 seconds?

Optimise your navigation

Is your website’s navigation useable? Does it make sense to a lay person? Give your friend a challenge to find something on your site as fast as they can, and watch over their shoulder to see if the navigation works for them. If they got lost, make a note of where and see if you can improve that aspect of the site.

Answer your visitors questions

What questions are you commonly asked by new customers? An easy way to generate great content is simply by answering the questions your customers ask you. Build an FAQ, share your opinion on a topic or make a tutorial.

The longer the visitors linger on your site, the better your site will rank.

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