Google Human Rating Guidelines: What Makes a Site Poor Quality?

04 December 2015

Google Human Rating Guidelines: What Makes a Site Poor Quality?

Google has released a copy of the guidelines it gives to ‘evaluators’ to assess the quality of websites. Evaluators’ assessments of the quality of a website do not affect that site’s Google ranking; instead, it is used to measure the success of algorithm changes and ranking experiments.

However, getting an insight into the 160 pages of rules, suggestions and regulations gives webmasters incredible access to how Google judges quality and what the search engine is ultimately looking for when it ranks websites in its search results. As Mimi Underwood explains, “the guidelines reflect what Google thinks search users want”.

Within the quality guidelines, Google highlights certain features that can indicate that a website is of low quality. These are all things to avoid, and the document describes five clues that a website is poor:

1. The main content’s quality is low

If a website’s content is spun or written poorly, Google recommends a low-quality rating. Content must be useful and of a high quality.

2. There is an unsatisfying amount of main content

Thin content is considered to be of a low quality, so make sure you flesh out your blog posts or static website copy with decent back up information and context. A few sentences per page does not convey high-quality work.

3. The website does not have enough E-A-T

Expertise, authority and trustworthiness are themes that come up repeatedly within Google’s human evaluator recommendations. Summarised as E-A-T, if a website does not convey that its authors have expertise, authority and trustworthiness, it can be considered to be poor quality.

4. Websites with a poor reputation

The reputation of a website does seems to have an impact on its quality, and therefore, potentially, its search engine position. Google recommends that assessors do not get overly concerned with one or two negative reviews, but suggests they do comprehensive research to get a good understanding of how an online business is perceived.

5. Supplementary content, design, care and maintenance and background information

The guidelines advise evaluators to consider a range of further factors when deciding on the quality rating of a website. These include:

a) Supplementary content that is distracting or unhelpful. This can include ads or calls to action that do not relate to the main content of the page

b) Insufficient supplementary content. The amount of supplementary content that is recommended varies depending on the type of website but, for large businesses and brands, Google expects a good user experience with helpful supplementary content.

c) Poor page design. Again, Google’s expectations vary depending on the kind of website. However, if the ads or distractions on the page are designed to take attention away from the main content, this is considered to be poor quality.

d) Lacking care and maintenance. If there are a lot of broken links or faulty images, combined with outdated content, this will lead to a poor-quality rating.

e) Poor background information. Google wants users to be able to find out information about a business from its website.