GPWA Times Magazine - Issue30 - October 2014

COVER STORY Google is ready to E-A-T New guidelines show how to make your site more appetizing to the search giant By Joel Turner P eriodically Google “leaks” its Search Quality Rating Guidelines, and they offer fascinating insight into what the search engine expects and wants from the sites it indexes. Version 5.0 of the guidelines has recently dropped, and it provides some indica- tions as to what Google will look for from sites over the coming years. Understanding to what extent the guide- lines reflect the algorithms that Google utilizes has always required an element of guesswork. Not to be confused with Webmaster Guidelines, the search quality guidelines are designed to provide guid- ance for the army of human reviewers who manually check the quality of search re- sults for the company. The latest edition has been written from the ground up, and it is a good indication of what makes up the 250 ranking factors which determine where and when sites appear for search terms. We know that constant adjustments are made to the algorithm, with 20,000 experi- ments in 2010 alone leading to 500 modi- fications of ranking factors. And it is clear that human rating plays a significant role in this process. The bigger picture It’s worth remembering what Google’s key motivations are. Ultimately Google wants to provide users with the best ex- perience possible when they use its search engine product. Google wants to avoid return to search by delivering value to consumers at what it calls the Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT), that point at which users have a need that they communicate via their Google search bar. If a site doesn’t answer the consumers’ query or question and leads them to return to the Search Engine Result Page (SERP) the search is considered to be a failure. Similarly, despite continued efforts to diversify, Google’s income is still hugely dependent on advertising. It doesn’t take a hardened cynic to understand that it will do nearly anything to protect and grow this income channel. And it’s not a huge leap to say that is why the compa- ny is highly prescriptive about the types of advertising it wants to see on website pages, or how advertising types it dislikes can impact the ability of a page or site to rank organically. Both of these things clearly coincide with major themes in the new guidelines. Everybody has to E-A-T… One new area gains significant promi- nence in the guide: the concept of E-A-T. A website’s “expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness” are now key areas Google is ready to E-A-T