How a Page’s Intention Plays Into EAT and Ranking
Google wants to see websites and pages with content that show expertise, authoritativeness, and trust because it wants people to feel confident they are getting the best search results from Google. Sites with information that can really impact people’s lives in terms of health and finances are getting more scrutiny than ever. And part of what Google’s looking at is a page’s intention.
Google uses real human Quality Raters to help determine how well the algorithms are working. And it teaches people how to do quality ratings in its Google Quality Raters Guidelines, which is a document that anyone can look at, with the most recent update having come out on September 5th, 2019 (see the full document here). One of the first things the raters are supposed to look at is determining a page’s intention. If Google decides the purpose of your page is to sell a product, then it’s going to hold that page to a higher standard because people’s money is at stake. If WebMD has information about a product and it’s also not trying to sell that product, then Google is going to trust its information more than your page that is trying to sell the product and not just provides information about it.
One way to characterize a shift that has happened in SEO is that you can’t just build pages for Google. You have to build pages for the people who use Google, with content people can trust is good.
Is Google Becoming the Final Arbiter of Truth?
The problem, of course, is that Google isn’t necessarily always good at what it’s trying to do. This is especially true when a new core update comes out. A lot of the sites that took big hits from the June 3rd update were really good sites. Marie looked at some of them and couldn’t see anything that would obviously lead to a drop. It all looked trustworthy. This is what makes people nervous because it seems like Google is deciding what’s true and what’s not, and it’s not always clear how that’s happening. People just have to trust that Google has a system in place that will continue to improve what it’s doing. But it’s that idea that totally legitimate information might not be coming up in search results that keeps some SEO practitioners up at night.
It’s especially frustrating for Marie because one of the reasons she built a veterinarian website years ago was because people would come to her and say things like, “I saw on the internet that I could treat my dog’s fleas by giving the dog garlic.” But garlic is actually toxic to a dog’s red blood cells. She got involved in SEO because of the misinformation problem on the web. Now imagine you’re Google – you’re the company feeding this information up to people, and it could actually harm them! You can see why Google wants to get this right and has to keep changing its algorithms to get better at weeding out bad information by demoting it. Yes, Google wants to make lots of money, but they also want to help people by showing them search results they can trust. In that sense, just painting Google as the enemy in all of this is the easy way out.
The Dark Side of SEO
There’s very little that bugs Marie Haynes about SEO as an industry. Overall it’s a really wonderful community of people, and everyone’s trying to do their best. But there’s still a good deal of unhelpful complaining that goes on. For example, when Google recently published a blog article all about EAT, and it linked out to several different SEO sites that had published really good content about EAT, and one of those sites happened to be Marie’s site. Unfortunately, many SEO practitioners were miffed that some got the nod from Google and they didn’t. That sort of pettiness isn’t good for anyone, but it’s also understandable on some level. There is still progress to be made in having SEOs feel more solidarity than competitiveness, to engage in a more open dialog to benefit everyone, to post more about experiments without your fellow SEOs being so critical of each other.
Marie also thinks the changes in SEO that have happened in recent years are good for the industry. There was a time when SEOs could take just about any business and make them money just by performing relatively simple SEO tactics. As Google has developed its algorithms, though, the jig is up. You can’t survive just on SEO tricks alone. Google can see through the tricks and will penalize you for them. Nowadays it takes real work, quality work, to be a successful SEO on behalf of clients.
Connect with Dr. Marie Haynes
Twitter: @Marie_Haynes (https://twitter.com/Marie_Haynes)
Facebook: @MarieHaynesConsulting (https://www.facebook.com/MarieHaynesConsultingInc)
Newsletter (Search News You Can Use): https://www.mariehaynes.com/newsletter
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