7 Key Takeaways from Google’s New Search Rating Guidelines

Google just released a 160 page document that instructs their army of human search rankers as to how to rate a website. Here’s what you need to know in 5 minutes or less. A much longer and more comprehensive breakdown can be found on the Moz Blog.

  1. The humans don’t actually get any say in the final ranking, they are merely a control group to test various algorithm changes against. But the goal is to get the machines to rate close to the humans.
  2. All ranking is done on mobile devices! If your website isn’t mobile friendly, the window of grace is closing.
  3. Websites that can have a significant impact on a users life or money (Shopping, Financial Information, Medical Info, Legal pages, etc.) are held to a much higher standard.
  4. E-A-T (Expertise / Authority / Trustworthiness) is one of the main criteria for rankings. If raters feel you know what you’re talking about, and you’re linking / linked to and from other credible sources, you get a better score.
  5. Usefulness: Does your page satisfy the search query intent? Pages that fully satisfy intent quickly, get the best score.
  6. Page design: Confusing and cluttered pages rank lower. Ugly pages are ok, as long as the searcher can find what they need.
  7. Ads: Are ads clearly separate from the rest of the content, or are you trying to sneak them in?

Bottom line: If you’ve been putting off updating your site for mobile, this is a clear shot across the bow from Google to do it soon.