Google does a LOT of work in search. There is a reason why Google is the behemoth that it is today – handling 92% of all internet searches and valued at nearly $1.8 trillion . However, much of how they operate is a dizzying mystery which can make it very difficult for small businesses and SMEs to really understand how best to present themselves to get Google search to notice them. In this post we discuss Core Updates, Quality Rating and Google’s E-A-T policy.
We explained what Google does when you build a website in order to add you to search results. We’ve also talked about ‘locality’ in searches. Now we have to tackle some of the guidelines Google uses in rating websites to explain why you may suddenly notice your website plummet in the results for no apparent reason.
Made it to the top
There are many reasons why Google made it wholly and categorically to the top of the heap in the search engine battles. Bear in mind, they launched into an environment where engines like Ask Jeeves (now simply Ask) and Yahoo ruled the roost. And there were tonnes of other competitors like Lycos hanging around too to contend with. The search engine realm was a pretty busy place. So how have we ended up with Google as the outright dominant search engine?
While Ask Jeeves presented the user with a character and the ability to ask literal plain English questions (at the time search queries required you to understand keywords and Boolean logic) . Google had other ideas though. They had a simple mission – ‘organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.’.
Previous search engines had scoured the internet for certain keywords, and cheeky/unscrupulous designers could take advantage of this relatively simple search method by secretly writing keywords over the pages (perhaps even making them the same colour as the background). Some websites would just write gibberish just to trick search engines.
A new way to E-A-T
Google developed a newer search method based on the interconnectivity of the internet. They developed algorithms which analysed how many times a website was referenced or how many links it featured to other websites. They combined this with keyword searching and suddenly, users had results which were a hundredfold more accurate and useful.
Now Google uses an algorithm that NO ONE BUT GOOGLE knows to return results. However, we do know that they are looking at links between your site and others, keywords, analysing images, looking at how long users stay on your site and how much they interact with your site. And more.
Google uses the acronym E-A-T when analysing your site, which stands for Expertise, Authority and Trustworthiness. Basically, Google wants to know that you know your stuff. In fact, they want the E-A-T to be so accurate that they employ Search Quality Raters as well as their automated systems.
Search quality raters do not affect the individual rankings of websites. Instead, they help Google to ensure their algorithm is providing the best results, raters will assess the quality of the page. There is a guideline for their rating which can be found here but be warned it’s 172 pages long.
In fact, Google actually provides a list of questions that you can ask yourself when generating content for your website. These questions can help you to make sure that Google thinks your content meets the E-A-T ethos. These questions can be found here.
Slipping down the ranks
You may one day notice that, inexplicably, your website seems to have slipped down the rankings. One day you were flying high in third place in your local area, when suddenly you’ve slipped off the front page entirely. This can be quite panic inducing! It may not be something you’ve done wrong though.
Google are constantly evolving their methods . They regularly introduce updates to their algorithms and systems, and they refer to these changes as Core Updates. Now, Google’s Core Updates can be significant – like their Speed Update – or they can be much more regular and less impactful.
In the case of significant Core Updates, Google will notify site owners of incoming changes though they will not necessarily give full details of the changes they are introducing. However, their regular Core Updates largely take place without warning or fanfare.
It’s not you, it’s me
The fact is that core updates do not target individual websites. Google never targets individuals unless they have violated rules. These core updates are making changes to Google themselves and how they operate.
Imagine it more like Google are compiling a list of the 100 greatest movies of all time. Naturally, this list, if made in 1989 would likely be dominated by Spielberg movies and potentially a lot of black and white movies. Jump forwards in time to 2010 and the top 20 will almost certainly feature Lord of the Rings and have lost several of the films included in the 1989 version. Why the changes?
Obviously, there will be new movies released that need to be considered. And some of the older movies may be added because they have grown in importance culturally. It’s not that the movies being removed are bad, just that upon reconsideration other movies are more deserving of the place in the top 100.
You are what you E-A-T
So, what can you do if you slip down the rankings?
There’s only one thing for it, focus on your content and ensure that you are meeting the E-A-T ethos. Google will not release the exact details of the changes they make so you cannot respond to specifics. Adopting the content driven approach is the only answer.
Work on your SEO in line with Google’s content questions and E-A-T and most of all think like a consumer. That’s exactly what Google are trying to do, put themselves in the shoes of consumers.
Ooooor, get in touch with an honest, hard-working digital marketing agency. Perhaps one who has helped to explain this all to you.