The World Wide Web is a ginormous repository of knowledge. It’s not just become the go-to place for answers to complex questions on quantum mechanics but it’s also increasingly where the average person will turn to when they are looking for a product, a service, entertainment and pretty much almost anything that comes to mind.
Google, as by far the largest search engine on the planet, carries an extraordinary weight of responsibility on its shoulders when it comes to connecting Internet users with the most fitting answers to their search queries. It does that by ranking search results starting with the ones that are likely to interest the user the most.
To do that, Google has to look for certain quality indicators on each web page it indexes in order to determine whether to include it in a query’s search results and what priority to give it. While the Google algorithm isn’t public and the number of indicators could be in the hundreds, there are things we do know (based on countless observations) Google will use to gauge the quality of SEO content.
A web page’s content must be relevant to the user’s query if it’s to appear in the search results. So, for instance, if you have a web page focused on eye drops, it will never rank in Google queries related to athlete’s foot.
Google expects that since backlinks are an endorsement of sorts, then the backlinks can only be considered as truly vouching for your web page if the originating site is a credible resource on the subject matter.
Expertise is about demonstrable knowledge and skill in a subject area. Nevertheless, in the context of SEO content, possessing knowledge won’t automatically open the floodgates of traffic to your web page. Rather, you have to communicate this skill and knowledge in a way that attracts and engages your readers. To do that, you have to master who your audience is, what they want (i.e. not just what they are searching for but also their search intent) and what is the most effective way to reach out to them.
You have to determine what their knowledge of the subject is. The wording you’d use for someone who’s a novice shouldn’t be as jargon-filled as you’d use when addressing someone who’s already deeply versed in what you are talking about. You must find the right balance between detail and simplicity.
You cannot cover everything on a web page so provide internal and external links that people who want to delve deeper into the topic can refer to.
Expertise and authority aren’t synonymous. You start off as an expert in the hope of becoming an authority in your field. When influencers, leaders, industry publications and other experts are referring to you and your web pages as a source of information, or when you and your brand become virtually synonymous with a subject, you are no longer just an expert but an authority.
There are a number of techniques Google will use to establish your web page’s authority. First, and as we’ve already mentioned, backlinks to yours from recognized authoritative sites are a major factor. Second, mentions of your name and brand (even without links) in the press, journals and other reputable online publications.
Third, having a Wikipedia page about you or your business is an indicator of notability (being notable is a prerequisite for you to have a Wikipedia page) and therefore a pointer to your authority. Fourth, if a substantial number of queries are specifically referring to your name or your business, you likely have a certain level of industry credibility.
While rising expertise and authority will see your web page’s ranking soar to the top of search results, a lack of trustworthiness is perhaps the fastest way to see your ranking fall dramatically. If you don’t quickly address negative reviews around your content, product or business, Google will severely punish your pages.
“You must strive to delight your customers, tackle any complaints promptly and not allow sentiment around your business to be predominantly negative. A sea of bad reviews is abhorred by Google. Paying attention to your content’s reviews on Google, Facebook, Trustpilot, Tripadvisor, Yelp and more, is therefore critical.”
If your business is based in North America, then you want to keep a close eye on your Better Business Bureau (BBB.org) reviews as this is considered an especially important source of consumer satisfaction by Google.
Other than delivering a quality product, keeping your promises and addressing negative reviews, you can improve your business’ online trustworthiness by having a clear way for users to contact you, an easily accessible T&Cs page, adopting SSL/TLS for your website, a clear return and refund policies, and providing comprehensive product documentation.
Certain information will hardly ever change. For example, the sun rising in the east and setting in the west is something that has continued for as long as the earth and sun have been in existence and is unlikely to change well into the foreseeable future. However, humanity is continuously discovering new knowledge in all kinds of areas. And even when it isn’t new knowledge, there’s always opportunity to provide new perspectives on existing knowledge.
That’s why Google considers the freshness of your web page to be a factor in determining content’s quality. It’s only logical—if your website or web page hasn’t been edited, revised and updated for the last 5 years, then there’s a good chance that the information on it is woefully out of date and potentially misleading. Keeping your content fresh and evergreen is fundamental to a high search results ranking.
Google believes that users will know good content when they see it. So a good indicator of quality is how shareable your content is. If people like what they’ve just seen and read, they’ll be excited and confident about sharing it with their social circle.
If your web page is shared consistently and widely on social media, it’s a positive sign to search engines that your pages deserve to rank high up on search results.
It Takes Time
Appearing among the first search results isn’t easy and it takes plenty of time, effort and resources to do so. However, by paying attention to these quality indicators, you will substantially increase the odds of your web pages appearing high up in search results.