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Leaked: Google’s Search Quality Guidelines 2015

leaked info web2It’s easy to think that Google is a totally automatic system that’s all software and no humans. In fact, that isn’t the case. Google employs a team of ‘quality raters’ who manually rate websites, using a strict set of Guidelines to ensure conformity of rating.

These Guidelines are supposedly just for internal use, but a set usually find their way into the public domain one way or another. The latest set ‘released’ date from October 2015, and give an interesting insight into Google’s key criteria.

While most of the Guidelines are nothing unexpected, there are a few gems in there we can all use to improve our websites!



E A T and be merry

E A T stands for ‘expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness’. This means your website should provide quality content that establishes your website as a expert on the subject matter. This in turn makes your website more ‘trustworthy’ in terms of the information it provides.

This is a method we at Akira Studio have been using for years - it’s why we have our own dedicated copywriter. The aim is always to make each individual page on your website have such quality of content that it can ‘stand alone’ in the search results. It isn’t always possible - pages like Contact Us won’t have much to say, for example - but where it is, it can increase the chances of several of your webpages ranking for multiple searches, rather than just a Home page.

Captain’s Log Supplemental

Supplementary information is extra information added to a page, which includes videos, images, PDF downloadable information sheets, as well as links to other sources. For e-commerce sites, supplementary info includes showing a product in a different size or colour or shape.

Ecommerce requirements

In their search for criteria to assess a ‘true’ merchant website or not, Google has previously gone too far. Last year, the Guidelines stripped merchant information down to some bare essentials, such as pages for contact information, and return and exchange policies. If you haven’t got these on your online store, we suggest you add them now!

Needs Met

New for 2015, this criteria assesses if a website meets the needs of the viewer by providing the information they wanted from their search query. If the answer is yes, the website gets a “Needs Met” rating, which is a Very Good Thing to have. Ironically, it’s the niche sites that probably benefit most; Google gives the example of coupon sites which deliver what you need, a store discount code or coupon, and nothing more.

Mobile Searches

With searches made from mobile devices overtaking those made from desktop machines, it’s hardly surprising there is a brand new section for Mobile criteria. The Guidelines ask reviewers to consider aspects such as:

  • data entry forms
  • mobile responsiveness
  • mobile friendly menus
  • load times for webpages

In many ways, this is not news to us here at Akira Studio, as we’ve been designing mobile responsive sites for years. However, the technology has moved on, and if your site was created just three or four years ago, it won’t have the ability to be as adaptable as Google would like.

You can easily check how your website looks on a mobile phone or tablet by, well, looking at it on a mobile device! You could also ask your friends to take a look on their devices, and give you feedback, so you have a range of tech tested. If you have any concerns, give us a call and we’ll talk you through the upgrading process.

Mobile-Friendly PDF downloads

OK, this is more advanced, but again shows the way Google is thinking. Try to make any PDF documents available on your website as mobile friendly as possible. We interpret this as meaning it’s easy to read on a mobile, and isn’t too cluttered. It might be better, therefore, to spread information across two pages rather than one, and use shorter paragraphs and a larger font size (say 12pt instead of 10pt).

To discuss any aspect of your website SEO and mobile compatibility, just give us a call at our new website design studio in London Ontario. We’re happy to help.


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