Site Quality: Google’s major ranking signal explained

Site Quality: Google’s major ranking signal explained

Google divides the content of every webpage into main and supplementary content (and, optionally, ads), main content being the part of the page that “helps it achieve its purpose”. In the guidelines, Google is telling raters what most of us already know. Content is king.

What do we know about how Google ranks webpages in its SERPs? A lot. But very little for sure. Still, I guess everyone can agree that there are 2 major factors in play:

Relevance and quality.

To identify relevance, Google looks at how well the page answers the searcher’s question or fulfills the purpose of the query. Then, Google tries to figure out the degree of relevance of the page to the query. And while this is an undoubtedly complex process, it’s a comprehensible one. Google will look at your page and entire website in terms of keyword-related features, like keyword usage and topic relevance. Perhaps, they’ll also look for some keywords and semantically related concepts in the anchor text of links pointing to your page.

For most queries, this analysis will produce thousands of webpages that meet the relevance criteria, which Google needs to arrange in a certain order before they are displayed to searchers, ensuring that the best results appear at the top. This is where quality comes in.

But what exactly does Google mean by “quality”? The term seems incredibly (perhaps purposely) vague. But if you dig a little beneath the surface, quality becomes interesting. The concept, it turns out, has to do with many things beyond the website itself. And beyond backlinks, too.

Back in November, Google revealed their latest Search Quality Rating Guidelines, a 160-page read of “what Google thinks search users want”. This document is used by Google’s quality evaluators who rate webpages in SERPs; based on their feedback, Google can develop changes to their ranking algorithms.

That’s right. Human beings sit down, type queries into the Google search bar, and rate search results according to these guidelines so that Google can improve the quality of its SERPs.

In this article, we’ll look at factors, or features, that make a site a high quality one, and dive a little deeper to explore how Google may be weighing those — and what you can do to improve on them.

But before we get down to the factors themselves, it’s important to note that there are different standards for different types of pages.

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