Last Thursday, 16th May, Google advised the SEO community that it had updated its Google Rater Guidelines which is the first time they have updated these since July 2018.
From what I can ascertain from this update is that the guidelines have added in more detail/direction to specific areas in order to clean up/clarify what the raters are looking for, mainly in terms of quality of sites and how users interact with the site.
The 3 main areas which I believe are important from the update are –
E-A-T – Google is looking to move away from the term E-A-T and has now started to refer to this as Page Quality Instead, with performance elements added. But in my opinion this is still the same thing and does play an important part, with additions added, in what Google is looking for when looking to return specific pages based on search queries.
It has been reported that site owners have been getting confused with E-A-T, especially with how they could or should implement it for their own sites, which has led to the possibility of some sites attempting to manipulate E-A-T signals to Google rather than ensuring that the user experience for users is fully optimised. This tweak to now relate to Page Quality can add emphasis around performance and page quality signals are harder to manipulate that high quality sites.
This can be backed up off the back of the recent Google Webmaster you tube video in which Content, Metas and Performance were talked about as being the top 3 areas to review – this would all come under Page quality.
Authors – There has been clarification around the use of authors in attempting to show their expertise and trust worthiness. This section of the guidelines has changed a fair bit to address this from Google’s viewpoint. Previously, it was implied that all content creators should have expertise, but this has been downgraded slightly for subjects that don’t fall into YMYL sites, thus still allowing for great content to be created without trying to meeting this criteria.
So authors do not have to show specific expertise for non-YMYL pages and sites and they content that they are creating is still useful and isn’t doing any harm.
Interstitials – There is emphasis around interstitial pages within the Distracting Ads section, this was highlighted by Google a couple of years ago but this will now fall in line with the Page Quality which Google is now talking about in these Rater Guidelines. It is also likely to mean that sites who use those techniques in an intrusive manner may see their keyword performance/rankings suffer because of this update.
The Google Raters have clearly identified this as an area to review as it is being reported that many rater activities are mobile only, and mobile interstitials are being used more often than not currently.
It looks as though Google is specifically targeting the app download interstitials, with the guidelines stating:
“A single pop-over Ad or interstitial page with a clear and easy to use close button is not terribly distracting, though may not be a great user experience. However, difficult to close Ads that follow page scrolls, or interstitial pages that require an app download, can be truly distracting and make the MC difficult to use. You can see examples of interstitial pages here”.
So what does this all mean – Although there appears to be minimal changes to the rater guidelines, it is likely that an update is in the offering (last time Google released a rater guidelines update in July 2018, the Core Algorithm was updated in August with E-A-T), otherwise Google wouldn’t have felt the need to re-publish these guidelines.
Where as E-A-T was focused on content elements of the site, by Google changing E-A-T, to Page Quality is likely to include other elements such as speed, meta’s, Call To Actions
It is unlikely that Google will give explicit time frames around this but it is important to ensure that your SEO strategies are still based around providing the best user experience as possible in order to avoid any major drops in visibility.
I have a feeling that a change to the core algorithm is incoming!!