What Exactly Does Google Consider High-Quality Marketing Content?

With millions of blog posts published every single day, marketers are facing more competition than ever to get their content noticed in search results. The key to standing out? Creating content that Google deems high quality.

But what exactly does "high quality" mean to Google? While much of the search giant‘s algorithm is shrouded in secrecy, they have shared public guidelines on the factors they look for when evaluating website content.

By understanding these guidelines and keeping them front and center in your content strategy, you can craft marketing assets that are primed to perform in search. Here‘s what you need to know.

Google‘s Quality Guidelines, Explained

Google‘s Search Quality Rater Guidelines, a 166-page document used by human raters to assess the quality of search results, was publicly released in 2015. While these guidelines don‘t directly impact rankings, they provide valuable insight into what Google considers high-quality content.

The document covers several key factors Google uses to measure quality, including:

  • Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (EAT): Does the content demonstrate expert knowledge, come from a trusted source, and align with scientific consensus?
  • Main Content Quality and Amount: Is the content comprehensive, clearly communicated, professionally presented, and free of factual errors?
  • Website Information and Reputation: Is it clear who is responsible for the website, and does the site have a positive reputation based on external reviews and references?
  • Purpose of the Page: Is the content primarily intended to help users or does it seem created for other purposes like generating ad revenue or phishing for personal info?

Google also looks at factors like the accuracy of the page title and whether the main content (MC) lives up to what the title promises, the usefulness of any supplementary content (SC), and how well ads are distinguished from the MC.

The guidelines emphasize that to achieve a high rating, websites need to demonstrate "a high level of expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness" for their purpose. Raters are instructed to evaluate this based on the website‘s reputation and how well the content aligns with expert consensus.

What Google‘s Guidelines Mean for Your SEO & Content Strategy

So how can you ensure your content meets these quality criteria? Here are some key takeaways from Google‘s guidelines to incorporate into your approach:

1. Make Quality & Expertise Your Top Priority

One of the biggest themes throughout Google‘s guidelines is that high-quality content demonstrates a high level of skill, knowledge, and authority. To put this into practice:

  • Leverage the real, relevant expertise of knowledgeable professionals in your content creation. For example, if you‘re writing about tax law, consult with an experienced tax attorney.
  • Support your claims and advice with authoritative sources and data from trusted organizations. Cite and link to your sources.
  • Keep your content accurate, up to date, and aligned with scientific consensus and expert views on the topic.
  • Provide comprehensive coverage of the topic rather than thin, surface-level information. Go in depth with relevant subtopics, examples, and supporting details.
  • Invest time and care into your content to ensure it‘s well-researched, clearly written, logically organized, and free of factual errors or misleading info.

Bottom line: Don‘t try to fake expertise if you don‘t have it. Invest in working with skilled creators and subject matter experts to produce content with integrity.

2. Prioritize User Experience Over Monetization

Another key theme in Google‘s guidelines is that the best content is crafted first and foremost to help users, not to generate profits. Avoid tactics like:

  • Publishing thin content stuffed with keywords and ads
  • Promising something in the headline that the content doesn‘t deliver
  • Gating the full content behind a paywall, login, or lead gen form
  • Aggressive monetization that distracts and detracts from the main content

Instead, focus on creating a seamless, intuitive user experience. Ensure your content is easy to read and navigate on any device with helpful headings, concise paragraphs, and relevant visuals. If you do include ads or affiliate links, integrate them tastefully without being disruptive.

3. Build a Trustworthy Online Reputation

Google‘s guidelines also emphasize the important of reputation in evaluating a website‘s EAT. Some ways to cultivate trust and credibility:

  • Provide clear info on your site about who you are and why you‘re qualified to cover your topics. Include a robust, honest About Us page and detailed author bios.
  • Showcase relevant experience, credentials, and professional associations for your brand and content creators. But don‘t exaggerate or misrepresent your expertise.
  • Avoid a negative online reputation by responding professionally to critical reviews and comments, addressing controversies head-on, and swiftly correcting any errors or misleading info on your site.
  • Earn high-quality backlinks and mentions from respected websites in your industry. Engage in digital PR and outreach to build your brand‘s reputation.
  • Leverage relevant schema markup to provide additional context about your brand and demonstrate your site‘s credibility and purpose to search engines.

4. Maintain High Standards for All Content

Finally, Google‘s guidelines make it clear that quality needs to be a core focus across all areas of your website – not just your blog or primary marketing pages. This includes elements like your:

  • Homepage and cornerstone content
  • Product and service pages
  • Supplementary content like FAQs, glossaries, and resource centers
  • Site architecture and navigation
  • Author pages and other supporting content

Before publishing any new piece of content or site update, ask yourself: Does this align with Google‘s definition of high quality? Is it genuinely useful to visitors and representative of our brand‘s expertise? If not, keep iterating.

Evaluating Your Content Against Google‘s Quality Bar

Not sure if your existing content meets Google‘s criteria? Conduct a comprehensive content audit to find out. Follow these steps:

  1. Take inventory of all indexable content on your site, including landing pages, blog posts, articles, product pages, and supporting resources.

  2. Review each piece against Google‘s guidelines and assign it a quality score on a scale of 1-5 (with 5 being the highest). Look for opportunities to improve elements like depth of information, clarity, accuracy, and integration of expertise.

  3. Assess how well each piece demonstrates EAT in your industry. Consider questions like: Is the author a proven expert on this topic? Does the content comprehensively answer the query? Is the advice aligned with scientific consensus?

  4. Evaluate the user experience of each piece as well as your site overall. Is the content easy to read and navigate? Are there disruptive ads or pop-ups? Does the page deliver on the promise of the title tag and meta description?

  5. Identify thin, outdated, or low-quality content that should be improved, consolidated, or removed. Prioritize key pages for optimization based on their importance to your marketing goals.

  6. Create an action plan for how you‘ll level-up each piece to meet Google‘s quality bar, like having an SEO expert rewrite it or a subject matter expert expand on it. Set a timeline for implementation.

By systematically evaluating your content against Google‘s standards, you can identify specific weaknesses to address. Optimize existing content in tandem with holding new content to a higher bar to improve quality across your domain.

The Business Benefits of Embracing Quality

Making Google‘s definition of quality content a core focus of your strategy does require significant time and effort. But when you consider the potential payoff, it‘s more than worth the investment.

Research has shown that ranking in the top 10 results can lead to a CTR of 30% or more, and the top result alone captures nearly 32% of clicks. With clicks come greater brand visibility, traffic, leads, and revenue.

High-quality content is also more likely to earn backlinks and social shares, which can further amplify your online reach. And by building trust and credibility with your audience, you lay the foundation for long-term loyalty and retention.

Investing in quality content is investing in the long-term health and sustainability of your online presence. By committing to creating content that informs, engages, and inspires your audience, you won‘t just improve your search performance – you‘ll build more meaningful relationships with your customers.

Predicting the Future of Google‘s Quality Criteria

As Google‘s search algorithm continues to evolve and become more sophisticated, marketers will need to continuously adapt their approach to align with Google‘s definition of quality.

Some key areas I believe Google will continue to prioritize and refine in their quality assessment:

  • Accuracy & Credibility: With the proliferation of misinformation and fake news online, I predict Google will place even more emphasis on a content‘s accuracy and the credibility of its sources. Expect more scrutiny of author and website reputation.

  • Original Research & Insights: As more brands invest in content marketing, there‘s a growing amount of me-too, repetitive content. To stand out, content will need to provide original, unique insights based on primary research, analysis, and expertise.

  • Depth & Comprehensiveness: Thin, shallow content stuffed with keywords won‘t cut it. I expect Google to continue to prioritize in-depth content that covers all the key subtopics and answers searchers‘ questions comprehensively.

  • Multichannel Engagement: Google has started to incorporate more diverse content types like podcasts, videos, and images into search. I predict they‘ll look at engagement across channels when assessing a brand‘s EAT and reputation.

  • UX & Accessibility: With Google‘s Core Web Vitals update, page experience is already becoming a bigger ranking factor. I believe this emphasis on UX will only grow, with accessibility, mobile-friendliness, and interactivity all playing a role in quality assessment.

Of course, as with any predictions about SEO, these are educated guesses rather than foregone conclusions. But by staying on top of Google‘s evolving quality criteria and holding your content to the highest standards, you‘ll be well positioned to succeed in the search landscape of the future.

Content Quality Tools & Resources

Looking for tools and resources to help you implement these quality best practices? Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Google Search Quality Rater Guidelines: The source of truth straight from Google. An essential reference for any marketer.
  • Clearscope: An AI-powered content optimization tool that helps ensure your content is comprehensive, high-quality, and aligned with search intent.
  • Grammarly: A writing assistant that catches errors, enhances clarity, and provides suggestions for improving content quality.
  • Hemingway Editor: A free tool to help make your writing more clear, concise, and easier to read.
  • MarketMuse: An AI content planning and optimization platform to help identify gaps and opportunities to improve content quality and comprehensiveness.
  • Moz: An SEO software suite with tools for evaluating page authority, researching competitors, and identifying content optimization opportunities.
  • Ahrefs: An all-in-one SEO toolset with features for analyzing content performance, quality, and opportunities.
  • Content Harmony: A content planning and optimization tool to help you create content that aligns with Google‘s EAT criteria.

Key Takeaways for Marketers

I know this has been a lot to digest, so here are the key points I want you to take away from this deep dive into Google‘s content quality criteria:

  • Google‘s definition of high-quality content is content that demonstrates high levels of expertise, authority, and trustworthiness relevant to the topic.
  • To align with Google‘s quality guidelines, prioritize creating content that is accurate, comprehensive, well-presented, and created primarily to help and inform users.
  • Building a positive reputation and demonstrating your expertise through the creators and sources you feature in your content is key to long-term success.
  • Systematically evaluate your existing and new content against Google‘s quality criteria to ensure every piece you publish meets these standards.
  • Stay on top of developments in Google‘s quality criteria and adopt a mindset of continuous improvement to ensure your content keeps pace.
  • Leverage tools to help enhance content quality, optimize for search, and measure your results.

Ultimately, Google wants to reward the brands that create content with the user in mind first and foremost. By keeping these quality guidelines front and center and committing to creating truly valuable content, you‘ll be well on your way to earning not just higher rankings, but the trust and loyalty of your audience.