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Sunday, March 3, 2013

Google Guidelines Reverse Engineered

Understanding Google Search Rating Guidelines

Naturally any time Google releases any of the internal documents its' employees use, online marketers get excited. The Search Quality Rating Guidelines are of particular importance to  PPC advertisers and SEO's.  Already there has been quite a buzz around the topic, what it means, and how it effects us marketers. To be quite honest I don't think Google would have released this watered down, highly edited version, if an internal original version was not previously leaked. None the less, there is tremendous value to be found within the new document has Google released. (Version 1.0)

So let's begin the process of reverse engineering the information they have provided us with. The first important thing the document presents us is it's rating system. It is not based on a number system which kind of surprises me however we could assume a value is added to each (0-5).

Vital - A special rating category applies....

We can assume only content labeled as Vital and Useful will qualify for first page spots. Relevant probably makes up pages 2-4 depending on the queries. Slightly relevant would make up the remaining results with off topic and useless into the 20-30s and beyond. There is only one problem with this theory and that's Google has said these rating aren't used to change individual rankings but rather a means for them to rate their own results, analyze the data and make algorithm changes accordingly. While adapting to these rating won't directly effect your rank we can presume that Google wants all pages filled with Vital and Useful content. Thus making our sites fit their definition of such will ensure we have a higher chance of ranking well when Algorithm Updates do Roll Out!

So what makes your website Useful?

This will be highly varied depending upon your target keyword and your searcher's intent. Each query naturally will have multiple meanings across varied users. The first key is to decide on what each of these meanings are for your keyword.


To be be a Useful result make sure your website is targeting the Dominant Interpretation of your target keyword. It would also seem helpful to include elements of both Common Interpretations and Minor Interpretations into your website targeting Dominant Interpretations. This way you are targeting the Dominant queries and still providing Useful and Relevant Content to your Common and Minor Queries Interpretations. Now you are covering your basis and extending your reach to a wider target audience boosting relevance to both markets.

Now that we have covered the varying meanings of our keywords we need to make sure we provide the searcher the right type of results for their intent for that particular meaning. Google breaks it into three different types of search intent.


Information is the easiest of these to accomplish. I'm not trying to imply creating great content is easy, it's just easier than developing software. Obviously if your an e-commerce store or something of the like the Action intent should be your focus. Regardless you should try to add both great informational text on your website and some sort of action oriented content. If you don't have this sort of content that a user may be looking for internally you can always link out to some relevant actionable item on another website. This way you are at least adding relevance to a third of the searchers. For the final third the Navigation Intent you simply need to make sure you have an easy to access contact page and navigational information on your website for those searchers looking to come to your physical location.

As I'm sure you can image this is just the tip of the iceberg as far as finding useful data points from this document to help us create more useful and better ranking websites. I encourage you to investigate for yourself and please feel free to share your findings.