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.
- 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.
- All ranking is done on mobile devices! If your website isn’t mobile friendly, the window of grace is closing.
- 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.
- 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.
- Usefulness: Does your page satisfy the search query intent? Pages that fully satisfy intent quickly, get the best score.
- Page design: Confusing and cluttered pages rank lower. Ugly pages are ok, as long as the searcher can find what they need.
- 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.