What factors do Google take into account when assessing page quality? There is a long list of data to examine to determine which pages are low quality and which are not, from user behavior to loading time to spelling mistakes. Let’s see which are the main parameters and which metrics should be analyzed to determine the quality of the pages of a site.
What constitutes “quality” for Google?
As SEO consultants, we are always interested in the parameters to be used to improve the ranking of a website in search engines. The most used of all, in Italy, is Google, which has quite clear ideas about which characteristics determine the quality of a content. Some of these ideas we know and are quite obvious, others are more intriguing.
What constitutes “quality” for Google?
As SEO consultants, we are always interested in the parameters to be used to improve the positioning of a website in search engines. We know some of these ideas and they are quite obvious, others are more intriguing.
We all know that:
- Google wants unique content that is not the same as other pages. But it is not enough that the words and phrases contained by the page are different, the value of the content must be unique for users.
- Would like to see a large number of external sources that link the page editorially. This indicates that the content of it is probably of high quality because it is worthy of being mentioned.
- External links should come from high-quality pages themselves, whether they are internal links or external links. So, if your high-quality pages link to another page on your site, it will earn “points”.
- The page must respond successfully to user needs.
This last point is very interesting. How does Google determine if the page has met the user’s need? Its behavior follows. The user performs a search, click on a result and visit your page. If the user returns to Google and does a totally different search or is dedicated to something else, then he was satisfied with the content of your page. If, on the other hand, you click on another result or do a similar search, it means you didn’t find what you were looking for on your site. When the second situation described often occurs, it is called “pogo-sticking” and will result in a drop in the positioning on the SERP of that page.
We continue to examine other features that Google analyzes to determine the quality of a page:
- The page must load quickly with any connection.
- Great importance is given to the quality of accessibility and User Experience on any device, ie mobile, desktop, tablet, and laptop.
- The contents must be grammatically correct and well written. This feature has become very important especially recently since Google implemented the so-called Featured Snippets. According to tests carried out by Moz, in fact, a page with grammatically incorrect contents or containing typing errors will never be shown on the SERP through the featured snippet. The latter is even “revoked” in the event that the errors appear following a change to the page.
- All non-text content must have an alternative in the form of text. That’s why Google encourages the use of the alt description and the transcription of the dialogues of a video. In this way, anyone can take advantage of the page, even those who do not have the possibility for technical or accessibility reasons.
- Google would also like to see content that is well organized and easy to consume and understand.
- Finally, pages that link to additional sources for further information or to follow up on activities or to cite sources are rewarded. For this, the links pointing outwards are important.
Attention: this is not an exhaustive list. These are just some of the features that Google analyzes on a page to determine its quality, the complete list includes hundreds of parameters.
What not to do to understand the quality of a page
When we try to determine the quality of a page, we must, first of all, understand that it is not a simple datum to deduce, but a parameter that is obtained by combining many different metrics.
Consequently, it is good not to simply rely on:
- Time spent on the site;
- Bounce rate;
- Organic traffic.
Why not? Because taken individually, they can be misleading signals.
For example, if someone spends a lot of time on the site it can be because it is taken from your content or because it cannot find what it is looking for. Many pop-ups may appear on your site and it takes a long time for the user to find ways to close them.
The bounce rate (or bounce rate) works the same way. A high bounce rate could be a good thing, if you are answering a very simple question or if the next step is to visit another page in a short time. There are pages with a bounce rate between 80 and 90 percent, but which fully satisfy the user’s query. So the rebound rate alone is not a valid indicator.
The same applies to organic traffic. You could have a low quality page which, however, receives a good amount of organic traffic for one reason or another, perhaps because it is well positioned for several long tail queries. Analyzing this data over the long term, weeks (if not months), we can certainly have a better data, but even in this case (individually) it is not a valid analysis method.
What we are saying is not that these metrics are not useful in determining the quality of a page, but that they should not be taken individually but combined together with other data.
What to do to understand the quality of a page
If the data we have seen before can be misleading when taken individually, combined with each other and with other metrics can instead help in achieving our goal.
Combination of metric d’engangement
A possible combination concerns the engineering metrics. We refer to:
- Total visits
- Visits from outside and from inside
- Pages per visit
By combining these three data you can “follow” the users’ path and try to understand if, after landing on your site, they visit other pages or not. If they surf the site it’s certainly a good sign, but if they visit a few pages and then leave it, it can be a problem. By also checking the time on site and the bounce rate you can get a pretty good idea of the quality of the page.
Combination of offsite metrics
Another interesting fact comes from the combination of offsite metrics, such as:
- Link from the outside
- Page Autorithy
- Shares on social media
As we have already pointed out, if your page is linked often it means that it has a quality and authoritative content. For the same reasoning, a high number of shares on social media can lead to a large number of external visits, which Google considers very important.
Presence on search engines
A quality page has unique content. How to understand if, instead, it is duplicated? In addition to being able to use the many site audit tools found online, you can also simply search Google for the URL or title of the page in question. This way you can understand if:
- The page has been indexed;
- If multiple pages on your site have been indexed with the same URL;
- If multiple pages on your site have been indexed with the same title.
Solve any problems and the quality of your site will benefit rather quickly. Remember not to delete low-quality pages, but to update them to improve and expand the content.