In spite of its importance for SEO professionals, Google’s quality rater guidelines remain an intimidating and unexplored resource among many digital marketers.

“You can view the rater guidelines as where we want the search algorithm to go,” Ben Gomes, Google’s vice president of search, assistant and news, told CNBC. “They don’t tell you how the algorithm is ranking results, but they fundamentally show what the algorithm should do.”

But what are the most important themes within the quality rater guidelines that brands should know about?

Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness (E-A-T)

Google assesses pages based on the expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness of the content contained within. The same goes for the content’s creator.

A variety of signals are used by Google as a proxy to match what users are looking for, which makes E-A-T a ranking factor. However, that doesn’t mean to say Google assigns individual pages an E-A-T score – its more a term Google created to teach human quality raters what to look for.

“You want to make sure that you’re putting out content that other people will feel good about linking to,” says Jennifer Slegg, editor for The SEM Post.

Needs met

This refers to how well your page satisfies the user’s query. After all, intent is more important than ever before when it comes to SEO.

“If you want to get the ‘Fully Meets’ ranking for this, which is the highest ranking you can possibly get, you need to ensure that your content is completely answered what searchers are looking for,” adds Slegg.

To further improve your needs met ranking, go into Google Search Console and see what keywords are bringing users to your site before assessing them against your landing pages. You basically want to stop users from returning to the search results and clicking on a competitor’s link, which can be done by having all your content on a single page rather than multiple pages.

Your Money or Your Life

If a piece of content could impact someone’s future happiness, health, finances or safety, it is classified as “Your Money of Your Life” (YMYL). Example topics include news and shopping as well as financial and health advice.

“These types of sites are held up to the highest standard in the Google search results,” notes Slegg.

Because it’s important for Google to send users to trustworthy sites, accuracy takes precedence with YMYL content. As a result, all raters are required to check content accuracy in order to give any page the ‘Highly Meets’ rating.

Page quality

Another thing that will adversely affect your pages in the eyes of raters is low-quality signals. For example, you’ll be given the lowest rating available if your pages aren’t mobile friendly.

“Google knows that sites need to have ads to support revenue,” Slegg says, noting, “it’s more about the types of ads.”

Other ways in which you’ll be penalised include clickbait titles, ad-blocked content, obtrusive ads, a lack of E-A-T, a negative reputation and low-quality content.