Just when you think you’ve worked hard enough to gain that coveted No. 1 spot in Google’s search rankings, you plummet several pages and find yourself buried with no prospect of rising to the top again. What happened?
No one can say for sure (no one except Google), but what likely happened is you were subjected to human review.
Here’s a must read for every small business owner trying to get their web pages to rank in the search engines – especially Google. Pay very close attention to the part where she says that Google uses human reviewers to scrutinize every first page ranking. But also keep in mind that Google made more than 500 algorithm changes in 2010 and ran more than 20,000 search results tests. Those are a lot of bargaining chips.
So what are human reviewers looking for? Barry Schwartz lays it out pretty well.
Here’s a little clue into Google’s quality ratings: Make your web pages relevant to at least one specific search query. You can do this by pretending you are a searcher and asking a question that someone might want to know the answer to. Answer that question. Be sure to use the language in your answer that a real searcher would use in asking the question.
Notice that in the relevance factor, “relevant” is not the highest quality rating. What you want to strive for is – at the very least – “useful.” If you can get it, go for “vital.” If you shoot for the vital rating you will likely hit the useful rating for quality. So aim high.
What should you stay away from? What are the negative quality ratings? Here they are, in the proverbial nutshell:
- Malicious code or malware
Keep your content free of these three reviewer quality flags – with one exception. If your content is pornographic on purpose and you are trying to rank for pornographic material, then you’ll get away with ranking high for pornographic search terms. On the other hand, if you are trying to rank for “welding” or “nail manicure,” then pornography’s a bad thing. Just saying.
What’s all this really mean? It means that you should scrutinize your own web pages as well as any reviewer (or any searcher) would. Make your web pages useful to human readers and not just some anonymous computer program. That’s real search engine optimization.