Cats are great. I love cats. So much so that when cat GIFs randomly popped up in Dr. Marie Haynes’ talk at BrightonSEO, I was totally okay with it.
SEO forms a hefty chunk of the contracts I work on here in the Bigwave offices, so I was litter-ally blown away to discover reputation really is a ranking factor in the search engines. Dr. Haynes' talk had me purring for more... (sorry).
Google's Search Quality Guidelines in a nutshell
This ranking is explained in Google’s Search Quality Guidelines, which they updated in August. The entire guide is more than 150 pages long and explains exactly what Google are looking for. No cat gifs, but essential reading for any marketeer with a particular interest in search rankings.
A website will rank on Google following specific ratings, including the quality of the website or the relevance for users. How to better evaluate relevance than evaluating a company’s reputation elsewhere on the internet, right?
Naturally, a huge factor in this evaluation is online reviews. Reviews include comments on trusted websites, mentions in trusted articles or general trustworthiness like a medical degree.
But the internet is huge. How does Google know?!
Let that sink in. Google knows about the reputation a company has and even an individual’s authoritativeness. Based on this information, they decide if your content is trustworthy or not…
Genius really, but how do they do that?
First of all, their incredible algorithms collect a lot (we’re talking A LOT) of data. This data collection includes the star rating a business has on Facebook and Google’s own Shopping functionality amongst myriad other methods.
Yet this is still not enough to evaluate a business fully, which is why they have employees who manually go through trusted reviewing pages to assess quality and, should the need arise, very specific weaknesses. Even a “mildly negative reputation” will give a website a low rating, going as far as warning users off i.e. poor delivery of a clothing retailer.
After this, they check the authoritativeness of authors and content producers. To protect users, articles about health, finance and safety will be checked very closely. Why? These articles can have a significant impact on the readers life. A website’s content must match a user’s query as perfectly as possible to appear in the search.
A recipe without user reviews, for example, is at a disadvantage against one with comments - Google believes that such comments can help a user decide if a recipe is worth trying.
Google’s recipe, on the other hand, for a high-quality page is E-A-T: Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness.
To put it simply, if you win 5 Pulitzer prices, have a doctorate and are mentioned in the Times and Forbes, Google will value your work as confirmed by experts.
That being said, there are topics that one cannot have a degree in. A parenting blog for Moms therefore will be valued based on user’s feedback and website traffic.
Back to you
Google’s current algorithms have the user’s interest in mind – and of course the quality of the search engine results pages (SERPs for the initiated). The only way to make the best use of this functionality is to produce great content on your website.
Another great tip is to do some competitor research and move into their space – think popular blogs and online publications. It’s also worth noting that Google can spot fake reviews, so don’t even try that one.
While it’s hard to catch up with Google’s ever-changing algorithms, it honours those who really try to deliver value to their users. So it can be said that it’s not overly complicated to improve your ranking on the SERPs.
Interaction with users or customers in every possible way is the key to a good online reputation – and try to keep those poor star ratings to a meow-nimum.
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