Google has recently released a new edition of its Quality Ratings Guidelines, a totally rewritten manual that Google’s search result raters will be using when assessing the quality of sites in search results.
Amongst the changes in the guidelines, Google is now encouraging the search result raters to check whether or not there’s positive supplementary content, which helps to enhance a page. Whilst at the same time making sure there’s no negative supplementary content, such as adverts or links to unrelated sources that are likely to hinder the user’s experience on a webpage.
Google’s search result raters previously focused predominantly on the main content of a webpage, but there is now more emphasis placed on supplementary content. This includes links to related and helpful content on a website with lots of pages rather than content on other sites. It is a way of telling the user that they should stay on your site as you have a lot to offer and similar content that they may find of interest, while in return increasing visibility of your site.
Even the 404 page of your site can be used to give helpful, insightful supplementary content. Instead of just the normal “Sorry, we can’t find the page you are looking for” add an image that attracts the users attention and then add a search bar or links to popular pages on your site. This is a good way of keeping the user experience positive and keeping them on your site.
Whenever there are positive ways of using content there are likely to be poor ones as well. Google’s new guidelines tell the search result raters that if the site is using Supplementary Content that is in any way distracting, unhelpful or unrelated then that is a reason to give a low rating.
Another poor use of supplementary content would be linking to related sources from around the web. From experience these types of lists show a random mix of more unrelated content than they do related by picking up on single words that were used on the page. These quite frequently link out to something completely unrelated and should be avoided.
The search result raters will also be looking out for what appears to be supplementary content or internal links to a related source, but are really paid advertisements where the website owner is trying to trick the user into clicking on it. This kind of content can also result in being given a low quality rating.
While this may be only a small part of the new guidelines it is definitely worth taking some time to make sure you have enough supplementary content to meet the requirements that Google is asking their search result raters to look for, and avoiding the things that could lead to a low quality rating.