Google has published official guidance on Core Updates that goes beyond anything published before. The guidance covers four areas of content and recommends becoming acquainted with Google’s Quality Raters Guidelines to learn how to judge your own content. The guidance additionally mentioned that updates could affect Google Discover.
Google’s Guidance on Core Algorithm Updates
Google’s guidance on Core Algorithm Updates was authored by Danny Sullivan. Google’s guidance begins with a preamble advising there is nothing to fix. It then makes an analogy of the search results as being like a Top 100 Movie list and how that kind of list changes every years due to new movies and changing opinion. After which it lists four actionable areas to focus on.
Google’s Guidance on Areas to Focus On
Danny Sullivan offers web publishers four kinds of questions to ask about your content when assessing if your content is good enough for Google’s search results.
Those four question areas are:
Content and quality questions
Presentation and production questions
Ask for Third Party Review
He also recommended having a trusted third party review your pages to give you their honest feedback. Here’s what he advised:
“Also consider an audit of the drops you may have experienced. What pages were most impacted and for what types of searches? Look closely at these to understand how they’re assessed against some of the questions above.”
Content and Quality Questions
This section offers eight areas to review. It advises content creators to be original, insightful and comprehensive. It also cautions against clickbait headlines that exaggerate the impact of the topic.
Of particular interest is a section regarding the authoritativeness of the content. It suggests that the best kind of content is content that inspires being bookmarked and is good enough to be cited in print.
“Is this the sort of page you’d want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend?
Would you expect to see this content in or referenced by a printed magazine, encyclopedia or book?”
I would caution against believing that the above are ranking factors. I have never seen any algorithm or patent to suggest that Google is counting user’s bookmarking actions, monitoring direct navigation from bookmarks or using print citations as ranking signals.
I have a feeling that some may cite those as ranking factors but I would strongly caution against that.
This section discusses expertise of the author and the content. It advises against being mysterious about the author credentials of the author or website.
Of particular interest to health and YMYL (Your Money or Your Life) publishers is the section about the truthfulness of the content.
“Is the content free from easily-verified factual errors?
Would you feel comfortable trusting this content for issues relating to your money or your life?”
Many top publishers associated with dubious facts have suffered ranking drops. So this advice about a preponderance of factual errors is an important point to consider.
Presentation and Production Questions
This section begins advising on style, presentation and against looking sloppy. Of particular interest are these two items:
“Does the content have an excessive amount of ads that distract from or interfere with the main content?
Does content display well for mobile devices when viewed on them?”
The part about how a site displays on mobile is important because the algorithm is mobile first. That advice goes beyond asking if the site is mobile friendly. It touches on how the content displays.
Reading articles on a mobile device can be difficult because of inadequate font sizes and a tendency to group content into long paragraphs consisting of too many sentences.
I don’t know if that contributes to ranking but if user satisfaction is a goal, then making sure your content is easy to read on a mobile device is important. In my opinion that goes beyond ticking off the mobile friendly box.
The last section, Comparative Questions is about comparing your page quality against other pages in the search results.
“Does the content provide substantial value when compared to other pages in search results?
Does the content seem to be serving the genuine interests of visitors to the site or does it seem to exist solely by someone attempting to guess what might rank well in search engines?”
That last bit about content that is trying to rank well is interesting. There is a way to create content that begins with keyword research, moves to synonym research, then metaphorically puts those words in a bag to create content designed to rank for those keywords.
That’s an old school approach to content creation. The better approach that Danny advises is to focus on user interests.
Read Google’s new core algorithm update guidance here What webmasters should know about Google’s “core updates”