Google raters operate all over the world, and they work from a well-protected little handbook that gives them classified information about what to look for when judging a site.
It would be impossible for Google to be able to manually review every site in its index. This is precisely the reason that Google outsources the task to an army of human reviewers who work for external staffing companies.
The handbook is essentially the bible for the raters’ work, and Google recently updated the guide with 32 new pages that center on the topic of on-page quality – there’s even an entire new section entitled “Page Quality Rating Guidelines.”
After the Panda updates, page quality has become an all-important part of the algorithm that’s every bit as well-guarded as it is ever-changing. That’s why this is such exciting news for webmasters and the SEO community alike – any window into Google’s evaluation process is worth it’s weight in gold when it comes to discerning ranking factors.
Updates to Page Quality Guidelines
Quite a few blog posts floating around out are displaying the actual leaked pages. When pages from the 2011 version of the handbook were leaked, G Agents (yes, thought of that term just now – roll with it) trolled the ‘net serving copyright infringement notices and sending threatening emails until every last trace of the guide was scrubbed from the blogosphere. That will likely happen in this case as well, so here we’ll discuss what was in the pages as opposed to violating copyright and posting the pages themselves. That way you’ll get the goods without the unnecessary drama.
First, there’s an overall quality rating. This ranges from your basic highest to lowest scoring system based on initial impression. Then, in the further broken-down quality rating section, Google dictates that the reviewer ignore queries that visitors may use to get to the website from search engines and focus specifically on the page alone. The page quality updates are essentially judging pages on their own merits as opposed to considering their effectiveness at answering a specific search query.
Telltale Signs of a Low-Quality Page
So what makes a page good or bad? Well, Google’s got an answer for that – in fact, G went into great detail explaining the hallmarks of less-than-stellar pages on the ‘net.
For instance, the guide talks at great lengths about websites that use plain speech and circular writing in their content. For webmasters, this basically means not repeating the same sentence in thirty different ways simply to fill up a page. It also means (ahem, marketers) staying away from those ever-seductive article spinning tools and programs.
Perhaps the biggest takeaway from the guide for those who make their living on the interwebs is the reputation evaluation addition. A website’s rep affects its quality rating. When you’re a webmaster, your reputation is only as good as those in your niche that take you seriously.
Raters are urged to poke around online to dig up dirt on you and your site. This means that you should not only put a face with all your content, it also translates to some hardcore networking with your peers. According to an article about the guide on Site-Reference, here’s the reputation evaluation scoring system and how the raters are directed to use the info:
The (leaked part of the) handbook is a fantastic window into the mysterious collective Google brain. We know a lot more than we use to, that’s for sure. However, the changes always seem to outpace our knowledge. This will likely be the same, so while you have it – use it. Edit and prune your content. Meet your peers. Make sure you’re known, and that people like what you have to offer. Do this, and the rankings should eventually follow.