The Internet game has greatly evolved since it first began – gone are the days of online marketing in the early 2000’s when all you had to do was launch a website and easily connect with a previously untapped market. Fast forward to nearly 20 years later today, and having a website that’s stuck in the old days – slow, unresponsive, and riddled with pages of poor quality content – will guarantee just about your business’ early demise in the fast-moving digital marketplace.
With search engines like Google serving as the gateway for consumers to find products and service providers like you online, establishing a good rapport with potential customers starts with them finding your business as it comes up in search results. As your website gets users to explore its unique content and stay on your site, it sends a signal to Google that your business is able to adequately respond to users’ needs, leading it to be recommended to more users and enjoy increased reach and visibility as search rankings climb.
So how exactly does Google determine a page to have high quality content, and in effect, recommend it to users – your potential customers? How can you tell if your website has low quality pages that cause lead conversions and sales to suffer?
How Does Google See Quality?
Over the years, Google has given digital marketing companies and businesses ideas of how a high quality website should be. Here are the trademark factors your website should satisfy:
- Unique content – this means that all content on your site isn’t merely lifted off another site.
- Content for humans – when SEO first came to light, people thought that saturating a page with keywords to meet density standards was enough for a page to be deemed relevant, as it matched all the competitive keywords and search phrases users use to find information relevant to their queries – even when it made absolutely no sense at all. Today, Google encourages digital marketing companies, content writers, and business owners to write for humans: no more unnecessary keyword saturation, but more natural writing aimed at actually answering users’ questions.
- Backlinks – the more reliable, quality external links and pages point to your site, the more trustworthy and reputable it is in the eyes of Google. This signals that your page is high-quality, since it’s reference-worthy.
- Answers users’ query – your page must allow a user to successfully find the information they need, hence, answering their query. This is a bit intriguing, since measuring it isn’t as outright compared to other quality indicators, but it basically points to users spending a good amount of time on your site. To Google, this means they are finding what they searched for, and are exploring your site for more relevant content, as opposed to spending just a few seconds, then bouncing back to search results. When users don’t spend a good amount of time on your site, this signals to Google that your site wasn’t able to successfully answer a query, and in effect deems your website as low quality, and shouldn’t be enjoying a prime position on search results.
New Indicators of High Quality Websites
As digital marketing evolves these days and the race towards increasing relevance and a well-defined online customer journey pushes businesses like yours to improve performance, there are now also other indicators of quality apart from the trademark factors every digital marketing company in Toronto swears by:
- Fast connection – what good is a website if it doesn’t load fast, and within the average time of a user’s attention span? No one likes waiting forever for a site to fully load, especially in this age of the instant need for information served online. When your site loads really slow, chances are, users bounce back to search results and select another site in place. This signals poor quality to Google, which can cause a faster-loading site to take your prime position on search.
- A seamless, integrated user experience – gone are the days of waiting for desktop or laptop computers to power up so you can go on the Internet to search for a product or service. In their place, users can simply whip out a smartphone or use a tablet to access information online. But what’s bound to happen if your website is designed to display optimally only on old, clunky computers? You’ll definitely fall behind on reaching out to the smartphone generation that wouldn’t want to, and probably have no time to waste pinching the screen and scrolling endlessly from side to side – all because your website doesn’t fit and wasn’t designed with the modern user experience in mind.
- No grammar and spelling errors – sounds surprising, but if you want your website to be Google’s snippet feature among other search results – definitely a great feat since users’ attention are drawn to it, you’ll want your content to be spotless, since Google is likely to remove poor quality content.
- Alternatives to non-text content – it’s great that your website uses a variety of media to share the latest updates and introduce the best features of your products and services, such as through video, but populating your site with rich, non-text media isn’t enough: there has to alternatives. This is why videos should have transcripts and the alt text attribute isn’t forgotten. With this, Google certifies your site to be universally accessible.
- Interactive, easily consumable content – no one likes reading through chunks of text just to find the information they need, so Google prioritizes ranking sites with well-organized pages filled with content that’s easy to consume and interact with. There are different ways to interpret this, but you’ll be surprised how Google’s algorithm has easily allowed machine learning systems to pick this up.
- What’s next – Google doesn’t want your story to end there, so it ranks well content that point users to more useful information, like external links to sources or a follow-up on tasks anchored on a strong call-to-action, such as leading to a dedicated product page, shopping cart, or even just a simple contact page that will prompt more action from users to get everything they need.
These factors aren’t really set in stone, but they’re all a good place to start when checking how well your website performs, and if its quality is good enough to help your business engage a wider audience in the fast-paced, ever-changing digital landscape.