Have you ever experienced a drop in your site’s Google ranking and had no idea why? Marie Haynes, SEO and Google algorithm expert, can explain it. On this week’s podcast, Marie shares the top 3 quality factors, how to future-proof your site, and more.

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Has your site ever experienced a drop in Google rankings, and you had no idea why?

Search engine marketing consultant, Dr. Marie Haynes specializes in Google algorithm updates and Google’s recently released, Quality Rater’s Guidelines. She’s been featured on the Moz blog, she writes on Search Engine Watch, and this week she shares her industry expertise on the Sure Oak Podcast.

For anyone who’s worried about the impact of Google algorithm changes or who has experienced a drop, Marie offers insight into Google’s 160-page Quality Guidelines, the three most important factors, how to future-proof your site and more.

Quality Rater’s Guidelines

Google has clear guidelines for website quality. And only in the last couple of years has the public had access to the 160-page book.

Google provides these guidelines to contractors who rate websites for their quality. There are an estimated 10,000 contractors who complete a careful review of websites through an interface.

Many people confuse the role of these raters, thinking that the rater’s assessment impacts website ranking directly. However, these ratings actually feed into Google’s algorithm and machine learning. The raters improve the algorithm’s ability to identify quality in websites and rank them appropriately.

Content Optimization: EAT

So, what does Google consider to be high quality?

“We’ve noticed a lot of attention being paid to is EAT,” explains Marie.

EAT stands for Experience, Authoritativeness and Trust. Sites with these qualities rank higher. Marie noticed Google’s implementation of EAT in February 2017.

While important for all sites, it’s especially important in “your money or your life” sites where people seek information for a financial or medical decision.

For example, if a user is seeking financial information and they have a choice between a site written by:

a journalist who’s a really good writer or
a financial advisor who’s been practicing what they’re writing about for years.

Google will put more emphasis on the site from the financial expert.

Google will use on-site information and off-site reputation about the authors to evaluate their level of expertise. To rank higher, Marie advises: “Anything you can do to show to Google that you are the expert is a good thing.”

Find an Expert

If you are not the expert in your industry, you should bring one (or more!) on-board.

Marie shares the story of a client with a medical site whose ranking “dropped like crazy” with the February 2017 update. The sites that were ranking #1 instead had medical expertise on staff on their site. These positions showed they had “tons of medical EAT.”

The client engaged with physicians to review their articles to increase their site EAT. Sure enough, their site ranking increased again.

Future-proofing for Google Updates

Every day, Google’s algorithm has 3 or 4 updates.

There are no longer specific updates from Google, but every once in a while there is a major shift.

Marie has been tracking Google updates for years. From her experience, recent Google updates fall into two categories:

Core quality

The core quality changes are changing the way Google assesses quality on your website. Though not specified, EAT is a significant feature.

Marie highlights that link updates have really changed. Previously, unnatural links pointing to your site could penalize your site. Now, Google simply ignores these links.