Being SEO experts, we talk length about how to create the finest websites, produce the best content, and provide the best value. Though these are all important points to remember, it is also important for us to be able to identify and recognise signs that Google is looking for.
Google quality updates seemingly occur monthly, and since the Fred event of March 2017, the issues related to website quality have begun to take centre stage.
Section 7 of Google’s Search Quality Guidelines advises the rating team on how to identify the lowest quality pages and emphatically reinforces the underlying goal that the content and websites that Google serves are created to be helpful for users.
Unnatural and Excessive Internal Structural Links
Google has been talking about its low-quality criteria for the last five years when they filed a patent that targets websites repeating internal links across footers and sidebars.
There are some obvious signs that a website seems untrustworthy like it has been hacked or it’s full of spam pages and spam comments. There are also some less obvious factors that Google reckons to be low-quality signals.
An interesting fact about the patent is that it was filed in June 2012, but was published in its current form during April 2015.
At the end of April 2015, we began to notice a change in Google’s algorithm that in the next month was dubbed the Phantom 2 update. While it’s speculation that Phantom 2 considered the newly patented low-quality criteria list, many websites with poor quality content saw upwards of a 10% decrease in search traffic.
Over-Monetization of Content
If a web page is designed to trick users, search engines, or both, Google considers it to be deceptive. If it’s deemed to be the case, Google commands that these pages are documented as being the lowest quality.
One of the leading takeaways from the Fred update is the impact on search performances for web pages carrying excessive monetised affiliated ads and links.
In the past year, Google has taken significant steps to cater to high volume search queries that do not have a single dominant interpretation.
For multiple queries, Page 1 of Google has turned less about being position 1 to 10, but more a collection of results that best match a number of standard search intents.
Ads and Affiliate Links
Websites disguising adverts as the main content are examples of these. In December 2016, Nathan Johns, one of Google’s search quality analysts, twitted that news websites including affiliate links should think twice about doing so. However, some of the websites have not taken notice of this warning.
Google looks at the aim of the page to be its main content- users should not have to scroll past affiliate ads and links or interact with intrusive overlays.
Another issue with affiliate links, such as Outbrain and Taboola, is that they blend in with the page. It makes them seem like they belong to the page and this provides them with a hint of trust empowering users to click on them, but this is bad according to Google and affects your quality rating.
Another issue is the lack of attention to detail e-commerce hygiene pages and hygiene content. In search quality guidelines, Google highlights Your Money or Your Life principle and scrutinises the quality and authenticity of the content.
There can be a lot of discussions and chats for getting the SEO basics right. A big part of this is to make sure that your internal linking structures and hygiene pages cater for users, and not passing link equity to the money pages, specifically for e-commerce and brochure service websites.