Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder but in the case of search engines, quality is in the eye of the search engine algorithm.

Search Quality Rater’s GuidelinesRecently, Google released a document called the Search Quality Rater’s Guidelines. Essentially, it’s Google’s detailed guide to assessing the quality of websites. Human experts use the guide to analyze the quality of a group of websites and Google uses that data to judge how their algorithms are doing.

Usually this would just be dismissed as bedtime reading for nerds like us, but this document is different. It provides an unprecedented look at how Google thinks of website quality. It’s a road map for how to get on Google’s good side — something all central New Hampshire business websites need to do.

Not sure you want to read all 160 pages of the Search Quality Rater’s Guidelines? Don’t worry! We’ve read it for you. Here’s what Google thinks makes for wicked good web content:

  • Expertise / Authoritativeness / Trustworthiness
  • Supplementary Content
  • Focused Page Design
  • Security

OK, so let’s take each of these individually…

Expertise / Authoritativeness / Trustworthiness


In short, this means that effective websites provide solid expertise and contain content from trustworthy sources. Sounds obvious, right? Well, it’s worth asking yourself if your website sends strong signals of your domain expertise and trustworthiness.

Wicked Good Website expertise and trustworthiness checklist:

  • Are your credentials or company history available?
  • Are the bios/CVs of your team easy to find?
  • Do you offer information that might be helpful to your clients that goes beyond location and pricing? (This blog is a good example of this.)
  • Do you have a FAQ where customer questions are asked and answered?
  • Does your brand show signals of expertise across the accessible web?

Supplementary Content


Offering site visitors supporting content in a sidebar or footer is critical to providing a rich web experience. Something similar to the ‘if you enjoy this, perhaps you’d be interested in this‘ approach. If your business doesn’t naturally generate much web-friendly content, consider linking to external well-established (trusted) content sources.

Focused Page Design


Once again it sounds obvious, but take another look at your home/landing page with a critical eye for clutter:

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It’s crucial that your primary call-to-action is sitting front and center, above the fold. Sliders and an abundance of photos are a distraction that lessens the impact of your content. Are ads clamoring for your site visitor’s attention? Is your site footer stuffed with badges, associations, and awards? If so, consider moving this stuff to an internal page.

Security


HTTPS Secure BrowsingIf your website accepts potentially sensitive data (through forms and/or a web store) security is critical. Web users now expect to see the familiar green security padlock when sharing private information online — especially when their credit card is involved. As important, web browser will soon be warning users by default when they are visiting sites that are not secure. If you haven’t already, consider getting and maintaining an SSL certificate through your web host.

Get There Gradually…

If your New Hampshire business website is suffering in these areas, don’t despair! The web is a constantly evolving medium. Consider each guideline separately and take action in tiny increments. Small adjustments like these can make a huge difference to Google’s search engine algorithms!

Greg Alison and Zorro
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