Who’s got two thumbs and spent four hours poring over the recently released Google Search Quality guidelines? This guy*
*I’m pointing my thumbs at myself
There’s of course a ton of little tidbits that we can learn about SEO from a document whose initial purpose was to be a resource for actual quality testers for Google. A rarity for the search giant, the document’s public release gave online marketers an insight into the methods and standards for ranking webpages for quality utilizing a variety of factors. While the general principles are not changing and remain common sense, it was really interesting to see the details and the complex steps that are taken to make sure the algorithm is constantly improving.
Instead of discussing the document and it’s importance in web development and Search Engine Optimization (cliff notes: give the user what they want), I thought there were some pretty cool correlations to marketing in general, and the terms that Google uses can be applied to not only SEO and the web, but to businesses and their customers in multiple situations.
An acronym for Expertise/Authoritativeness/Trustworthiness, which is self explanatory. If your E-A-T isn’t up to snuff, then you can be seen as an amateur, or worse – a fraud. It’s important to portray a high authority and expertise in your industry in all facets of your marketing. You can do this by putting valuable content into your marketing materials (examples, case studies, tutorials, technical information), or using other forms of communication such as hosting webinars, writing books, speaking at conferences, writing articles on your blog and/or other sites. It’s an obvious assumption that if you’re seen as an expert / authority to your customers, they’re more likely to choose you over your competitors – and more likely to share their experience with others.
Being trustworthy has always been important, but it’s become more critical year after year due to increasing competition for many industries, as well as the ease-of-access for the average user to compare businesses against each other. If you live in a town like Billings that has dozens of choices for services like electricians, plumbers, dentists, optometrists, etc… as well as access to each via the web, social media, and more – then suddenly factors such as price, location, and services aren’t the only criteria by which they are judged. Everyone inherently knows how to be more trustworthy as a business, but making it a priority for your customers in all ways such as quicker communication, problem solving, being involved in the community, and generally treating each customer with respect and dedication become more important.
E-A-T is important for ALL businesses, but there are some categories of businesses that should have an even higher standard of Expertise/Authoritativeness/Trustworthiness, mainly businesses that deal in Your Money or Your Life (YMYL).
Google’s term “Your Money or Your Life” refers to pages that could “potentially impact the future happiness, health, or wealth of users”. These kinds of pages are held to a higher standard of quality, and rightly so. If your business involves financial information, medical information, legal information, or other related services that can affect your customers money or life (covers just about everyone doesn’t it?) then your E-A-T needs to be even more crucial to your marketing communications.
There was a great article by inc.com about four powerful cognitive biases in human psychology. If you want to read the whole thing (it’s a good read), click here. The first bias the author mentions that relates to YMYL is referred to as “Loss Aversion”, which basically means that the human mind is more affected by things getting taken away than being given. The example they use was taking away $50 from someone will bother them more than giving $50. If your business affects your customer’s money or life (or both), be prepared to work harder to position yourself as an authority, and to gain their trust.
Main Content and Supplementary Content
In the search quality guidelines, an emphasis on determining and evaluating the main content and supplementary content is repeated throughout. In terms of a webpage, the main content should be the focus and purpose of the page. It should be the most prominent content, uncluttered and clear, and helpful to the user. Helpful supplementary content can also increase the quality of the page, but ONLY if it is helpful to the user – and doesn’t interfere with the main content.
This practice could be translated to almost any facet of marketing, from in-person communication to leave-behind marketing pieces, online to print. If your main content is crowded or cluttered, overshadowed by unnecessary fluff, or has no purpose or focus – it will at the very least be ineffective, and at the worst it will be damaging to your brand (E-A-T).
Make it a priority to focus your marketing message, organize it in all your media channels, and don’t fall prey to unhelpful supplementary content that clouds your voice.
I hope this insight into Google’s quality guidelines was helpful, and not only supports your online marketing strategy but your other marketing as well. If you’d like to read the whole Google search quality guidelines document yourself, check it out here. If you have any questions or comments, please share them in the comments, or send us a message on facebook!
~ Dan, Marketing Coordinator