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So What? Search Quality Ratings Guidelines

So What? Marketing Analytics and Insights Live

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In this week’s episode of So What? we focus on search quality ratings guidelines. We walk through what Google considers quality content, compare Google’s search quality ratings guidelines to your own SEO strategy and discuss things to avoid in your content marketing. Catch the replay here:

So What? Search Quality Ratings Guidelines


In this episode you’ll learn: 

  • What Google considers quality content
  • Compare Google’s search quality ratings guidelines to your own SEO strategy
  • Discover the things to avoid doing in your content marketing

Upcoming Episodes:

  • TBD


Have a question or topic you’d like to see us cover? Reach out here:

AI-Generated Transcript:

Katie Robbert 0:26
Well, hey everyone, Happy Thursday. Welcome to so what the marketing analytics and insights live show. I’m Katie joined as always with by Chris and John, I’m struggling to speak today, so should be interesting. On today’s episode, we are covering search quality ratings guidelines, which does not roll right off the tongue. We’ll be talking about what Google considers to be quality content, how to compare the Google search quality ratings guidelines to your own SEO strategy and what you should avoid doing in your content marketing. So now that I’ve got through all the tongue twisters where should we start? John? Do you pay attention to things like search quality ratings guidelines when you’re putting together content for marketing over coffee? Or do you just kind of wing it?

John Wall 1:22
Well, it’s like, it’s like religious instructions, like you’re supposed to interpret them and follow them, you know, so you kind of keep them in mind as you do it. But it’s always fascinating to me, because it’s really kind of like, you know, people always talking about Google is this black box, and it is, but the box is actually cut in half. And there’s the upstream box that nobody ever sees. And then there’s the second box, which is these quality ratings guidelines. And they do actually show you kind of what goes on in there. And it’s amazing to me that there’s over 10,000 people that review these results, like humans that actually review and rate stuff, and, you know, make things happen. And so there’s some stuff we can learn out of that. But yeah, I wish I could say that, like, I have a checklist that I follow. But that’s definitely.

Katie Robbert 2:06
So Chris, I know you’ve read the entirety of the search quality ratings, guidelines, where should we start?

Christopher Penn 2:15
Let’s talk about how they’re used. I think it’s the best place to start because they are not ranking factors in and of themselves. One of the things that we were talking about this week in the analytics remarketing slack group is what things constitute actual Google ranking factors and what things do not. The Search Quality Rating guidelines themselves are not ranking factors. There. They are a way for Google to build data. But they do not play a final role in how Google decides how your your site rates. If you are not a member of analytics for marketers, I recommend you pop on over because what we did this week was we actually put together based on search engine journals, excellent 550, page book, ranking factors, a cheat sheet of the things that do and don’t matter. And the Search Quality Rating guidelines, the evaluated guidelines do not they are not ranking factors in the selves. So what are these? These are essentially QA tests. And so what raters do, like John said, 16,000 people around the world, load up web pages. And then based on Google’s guide book, which is this is this is essentially the training manual for the 16,000 people. They go through and they rate different websites, they rate them on two dimensions, page quality, and needs met. So is the page a high quality page? And does it meet the needs of the searcher. And what these folks are asked to do is first do a quick assessment of page quality. And then they’re given a task like, for example, find the contact information on the Trust Insights website. That’d be a task they’d be given. And then they have to rate that that site based on the ease of which they can accomplish that task. So go ahead, give me

Katie Robbert 4:05
let me see if you answer my question before I ask it.

Christopher Penn 4:09
What Google does with this data is it takes this these ratings things and it is part of the training data that retrains the Google algorithm. So the Google algorithm is an unknown entity, a giant black box with several 100 inputs, of which some of these are these training scores. And then the output is of course, search rank. Other inputs include things like, you know, header tags on page, alt text, page, speed, core web vitals, number of inbound links, all these things are data that goes into Google’s massive model. And what comes out is is hopefully useful content. And so following the Search Quality Rating guidelines in our themselves would not necessarily change your rankings. But because they contain the best practices that Google is looking for, and teaching their AI models to learn from, there is a high likelihood that adhering to the guidelines will result in pleasing experiences that will mirror the data that Google uses in its algorithms, and therefore help your site rank better.

Katie Robbert 5:20
So I’m guessing that within this 500 Plus page document, they go into detail, but do they sum? Can we summarize, like, what defines quality, like what is a good quality page versus a not good quality page, because without that definition, I feel like it’s very open to interpretation of what I consider good quality versus what you know, John might consider good quality.

Christopher Penn 5:47
And indeed, Section three is all about page quality, what constitutes quality? There, this is sliding scale. And you can see this on the screen here. For those who are listening. If you’ve just listened to the audio, there’s it’s a nice little sliding scale. And that’s actually part of the interface that Google uses for page ratings. And you you would select through pages, that based on these things, the purpose of the page, what is its intent, the potential for the page to cause harm? The topic of the page, and to see the topic is in the special category called your money or your life, which are high risk pages. So for example, medical information is a your money or your life page, and the the bar for quality is higher on those pages, does the page convey accurate information? So for example, a page could look very authoritative about the supposedly inherent harms of COVID vaccine, but we know through literally billions of tests now that COVID vaccines are safe and safe and effective. And therefore, Google would say, okay, because you the intent of the page, if it was, say, a page opposing vaccines, you attend to the pages to cause harm, by convincing people not to take vaccines, this page will be rated the lowest level of quality. And those decisions are made by the raters, which is why there’s so many of them, because you need to have many, many, many different people evaluating these pages, based on Google’s somewhat subjective guidelines, the four categories that they look at our effort, which is how much effort did it take to create this content? How original is it? How much skill does it take to create the content? And how accurate is the content? So when Google talks about quality of content? Those are the four major buckets?

Katie Robbert 7:42
How? So let’s say I’m a reader? How do I know what the level of effort is? That someone took, like, you know, so this is saying, consider the extent to which a human being actively worked to create satisfying content. You know, the speed in which you know, someone like me creates content versus someone like you, Chris, is very different. But the outcome could be the same thing. You know, and so how do they determine? And I guess that’s what you’re saying is like, it’s subjective. The level of effort for creating content, like I know, John puts a lot of work into each marketing over coffee episode. But someone else who, you know, just as an example, could have a similar type podcast and really not put that much effort into it at all. You know how to sum how does the reader know that they spent a lot of time creating satisfying content, which that in and of itself seems subjective.

Christopher Penn 8:46
Part of it is Google has dozens and dozens and dozens of examples for every single one of these ratings. So for example, this page here will show this bullets up here. This one was rated as low, low quality content. And the reason Google says this was really low quality content. It does not achieve the impression well it lacks accuracy and does not demonstrate expertise, experience, authority or trustworthiness. In information about energy sources in nuclear power could significantly impact global industries and society. This is a your money or your life topic. The writing of this article is unprofessional, including many grammar and punctuation errors. The main content is to paraphrase from a science article found on a different source, but with factual inaccuracies introduced throughout the combination of low quality main content and the lack of end justify the lowest plus to low rating. So that’s, essentially that an explanation and part of your job as a quality rating guide quality rater, is to go through this exhaustive training to decide to learn what isn’t is not quality content.

Katie Robbert 9:50
Well, it sounds like they also have to be capable of doing research. You can’t just look at it and go, Oh, yeah, that sounds like what I understand it to be so it’s good. Have qualia, you actually have to demonstrate the correctness of the content.

Christopher Penn 10:07
Exactly. This will not just correct the content, but also the even things like layout. So this was rated low quality content 40th birthday party food ideas, yet decided salt itself was pretty horrendous. But this was doing because of the sheer number of ads going through it. So you can see here, this page has and was have many characters low quality, close artificials main content contains mostly common information. And poor writing quality rating just demonstrates a lack of effort, but content is broken by large adds significantly disrupts the user experience. So part of learning how to use the guidelines is in fact going through the examples and going okay, well, why did this you know, why was this rated. This is another one that was rated low quality. At first glance, I know what the design is a little on the old side, but it looks ok ish. But then when we go to the rating, we see there’s a large amount of filler or meaningless content and complete lack of effort in editing. In addition, the main content contains only commonly known information, no expertise or first hand experience created by the content author. So those that’s how Google helps people decide what constitutes quality. And you’ve seen mentioned in here a few things. One thing that has come up over and over again, is this thing called expertise authority, the authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. And these categories are the distinguishing factors you’ve heard people refer to them as eat in the past E A T. In this most recent version, Google has kind of rearranged things. So they say experiences considering how much the content creators personal experience, or firsthand experience informs the content, how much credentialed experience do they bring to the topic? And how authoritative is it in terms of is it a reliable source? For the information? For example, if you were a, you’re writing a page on COVID vaccines, if you worked for the National Institutes of Health, that would be you know, an authoritative source, if you work for Chris’s blog that he runs out of his basement. Not

John Wall 12:26
Am I right and the understanding of So the idea with this then, is it is still all subjective. But they put together a ton of examples. And the hope is that after somebody has scored five or 600 pages, they’re kind of going to be in line with the rest of the group of reviewers. And people will be scoring stuff within a couple of points, because they all have done enough work and have this picture in their mind of what the stuff should be. But there’s

Christopher Penn 12:51
that. And then there’s also remember, this is only a portion of the training data. The other portion of the training data comes from the users themselves. When you and I are on a search engine, we click on a result, we go to that page, and we just come back two seconds later, like Nope, that wasn’t it. That behavioral data tells Google okay, this was this was not a good mismatch. If there are, you know, one of the things that Google has as a substantial advantage over many other search engines is they have millions and millions of websites that voluntarily put Google Analytics on their sites. And so once that user arrives on that site, Google can watch that user and say, okay, are they you know, are these clicking? Are they scrolling? Are they going? How far into the site? Do they go out? We all love that scroll depth measure in Google Analytics, it tells us how much of the content got read? Well, we’re not the only ones who use that information. Google uses that as well to determine like when you click to a search result, and you read that first paragraph, and I’m out, your scroll depth is 10 to 20%. And Google understands the content did not fulfill your needs.

Katie Robbert 14:00
Interesting, does it say in here for those who are interested? How to Become a reader?

Christopher Penn 14:08
No, but it’s an open position I believe you can find on Google’s employment site.

Katie Robbert 14:12
Okay. Just I wanted to throw that out there for anyone who, you know, maybe they’re in between things are looking to pick up, you know, a second job or something. It sounds like it’s time intensive. But there are people who enjoy this kind of work like I would enjoy this kind of work if I was looking and so I just want to make sure that people also know how to get involved if they’re interested.

Christopher Penn 14:37
I will put a big asterisk on that. All of these types of positions inherently expose you to extremely harmful content. So if you are if you are someone who is has certain past experiences with things, you may find that these jobs are extremely taxing.

Katie Robbert 14:59
Told only understood and obviously like you have to use your own judgment for before we sign up for anything. But, you know, there are people who would be interested in making sure that websites are following these guidelines, for example, so you can sort of see where it’s a greater good kind of a thing.

Christopher Penn 15:17
Exactly. So one of the things that I said it’s very useful in here is understanding how Google makes a lot of these differentiations. So for example, in these your money or your life topics, there’s a difference between experience and expertise, right, someone was sharing their firsthand experience of something that’s valuable. But if the information in Google’s judgment requires more expertise than experience, a page that is high and experienced, but low and expertise will get rated lower than a page that has the expert expertise, and not necessarily experience. So they the example they cite here, which is a really good way to filling out tax forms, you know, a humorous video from a non expert content creator about the frustration of doing taxes would be valuable sharing of life experience, right, as opposed to something information best left to experts instructions on how to fill out the tax forms. Because as many of us know, filling out tax forms does require all sorts of arcane knowledge about tax code to do with an optimal outcome. The other thing that stands out and this is part of the the guidelines is understanding the website. Google is very particular, about making sure that there is adequate contact information available on a website. And again, the bar is higher, if you are a your site is classified as a your money or your life site, you have to have more contact information than, say, my personal blog.

Katie Robbert 16:50
So and I’m guessing that in here, see, they define the your money or your life. So for example, Trust Insights, probably not your money or your life kind of website.

Christopher Penn 17:06
Right. So your money, your life topics, the topic itself is harmful or dangerous. Or the topic could cause harm could cause harm if the content is not accurate or trustworthy. So health and safety, financial security, society and others. Now, here’s the thing. Google doesn’t present a clear list, right? They do say here’s, here are the various different examples. But there isn’t a clear list. And it is not site wide. It is topic related. So if on the Trust Insights website, we put up a topic about which we have actually, we have a whole page that we put up annually about hate crimes against LGBTQ folks that we put up before pride month, every year, that topic is a year money or lifetime topic, it is held to a higher standard. And, and so we would rate lower than say, Human Rights Campaign were the Trevor Project appropriately. So because it’s not our specialty. We don’t necessarily have all the, you know, the the expert credibility that an organization like the Trevor Project would have, and someone reading it. Now. We’re both ethical and moral and don’t put up information is going to actually cause harm. But it is a sensitive topic, and therefore it is held to a higher standard.

John Wall 18:31
That’s always I was wondering with this, is it because they like, if you’re just talking about restaurant reviews, then you can have diversity of opinion, and that’s okay. But these are topics where variation in the opinion is not allowed, because, again, it can be loss of money or life. Is that the idea?

Christopher Penn 18:50
Essentially, I mean, think about it from a business perspective, what Google wants to avoid his lawsuits, right, saying, Hey, you directed me to this website, and this website, told me that drinking bleach is okay, and I drank bleach, and now I can no longer eat any food. That in that example, there is a pretty clear indication that Google sent you somewhere that should not have been listed. Right? That would be that’d be the lowest quality content content that is actively harmful. Where things get questionable, and where we don’t have any guidance from the search quality rating guidelines, or about things for which there are highly polarized opinions that do not necessarily have a scientific or factual judgment one way or the other. Simple example, tax code, should tax code be regressive or progressive should that you know should tax code be a flat tax or should it be a progressive tax where income tax increases with your income? There isn’t a right answer to that question, but they are highly polarized opinions. And someone who is reading a page depending on your political inclination, you would choose you could use A page that was advocating for a progressive tax, and you were a conservative person, you would read that page low quality, because you would consider that misinformation. Someone who is liberal who looks at a flat tax would say the same thing. And so again, you need that large group of people to achieve the, you know, the diversity of opinions, you need the behavior of the users themselves. That would signal yeah, there’s debate about this topic, but it’s, you know, isn’t necessarily harmful one way or the other, even though it is about a your money or your life topic. And Google has been very closed mouthed about how it handles things where there are political overtones, like, you know, LGBTQ rights, and depending on your point of view, the other point of view, you may view as factually incorrect.

Katie Robbert 20:50
If this question, likely will send us down a rabbit hole, we can certainly we can park it for now. But who’s making this set of guidelines? Like I understand, like the Raiders have to follow these guidelines, but who’s making this determination to say that this is what’s considered low quality? This is what’s considered high quality this is what’s considered harmful. So who’s who’s building that? Obviously, I know, the answer is Google. But like, is it a large committee? Is it one person? Like, how does that work?

Christopher Penn 21:23
As far as you know, it’s Google’s web quality team. I don’t know how large that team is. But it is a team of folks. I know, in the past, folks, like Danny Sullivan, have said that there is a team behind the creation of this. And I believe, and we’re gonna have to we have to Google this. There is also a third party trust and oversight committee, that is not Google employees that looks over most of the big tech companies have some sort of third party body that will frequently audit what these things are doing. It’s kind of funny. Twitter is notable for when their management changed, they dissolved their their trust and safety council immediately. They just got rid of it the whole thing. But as far as I know, Google has has a similar committee of folks who agree on on a lot of these guidelines.

Katie Robbert 22:16
Gotcha. So all of this being said, all of these search quality ratings guidelines, what do we marketers need to do with this information? How does it impact us? Obviously, we’re talking about organic search and so naturally, SEO like, what do we do with this information? This is a lot of information.

Christopher Penn 22:40
It has a lot of information. And remember, it boils down to two dimensions, page quality and needs met. So the first thing you have to do is go through and read about what Google what the essentially Google considers low or high quality so for example, this is high quality main content. What is the difference between high quality low quality high quality is a news article accuracy, depth and clarity a q&a page or forum posts with meaningful discussions, a well organized crafting tutorial page high originality, unique original original photos and things like that. Low quality will be easy on photos or other sources, low quality, lack of curation, poor editing. So immediately, there’s some things jump out like okay, spell check your stuff. Make sure that that is it is obviously not garbage. When you’re going through looking at the various authority examples, again, read through and you know, this page, this page is clearly labeled as an opinion piece, right? So if you have content that could be misconstrued, being clear about intent is super helpful. When you look at things like news and updates page main causes high content effort, original content unique to the site. As a marketer, if you are just copy pasting from somebody else’s website, that you’re that’s low quality. One of the most damning statements that is you’ll find here is on the medium quality content. And Google says medium quality content falls into the category of nothing wrong, but nothing special. And that is most marketing content. There’s nothing wrong with it. There’s nothing special there’s nothing that would when you go there like okay, this was valuable. This is useful. This was original, this was unique. This was provided a lot of good information.

Katie Robbert 24:34
Interesting. So basically, what you’re saying is that we’re all just mediocre.

Christopher Penn 24:41
I mean, yes, most marketing content really is just mediocre. So that’s the first part. The second part is the needs met guidelines. So the needs met guidelines is talking about does a a search Does a page meet the needs of the user? And so users are given tasks? And asked Does the page or the search result meet the needs of that task? So let’s go through a few examples here. They you’ll note, by the way, a lot of these things are Google’s own content blocks, which is somewhat alarming. But they’ll say things like shop Nordstrom online is the query user intent go the Nordstrom website for online shopping, this search result fully meets that need, right? The query has clear intent to go the Nordstrom website google showed the Nordstrom website, the need has been met. If we scroll down, let’s go into you know, what country is Mount Fuji in using Tet find the country, Mount Fuji from Wikipedia. This is a specific no simple query the landing page, this is what provides the answer to the query with a lot of information about the mountain. While the answer can be found in the description, the website is not displayed prominently. So in this case, the need was highly met met but not fully met, because the answer did not leave out immediately. And obviously, oh, that’s that’s clearly what it is. That Broadway tickets, the intent here is to research prices and go find tickets on Broadway. And it’s Ticketmaster as the example. And it says, This helpful is this site is helpful, but you have to do a lot of navigating to get to where you want to go. So as a result, it’s highly meets the needs but not fully. If we go down a bit further into the slightly meets the needs, you know, Britney Spears, and they have this TMZ article, it says the landing page has a 2006 article about Britney Spears filing for divorce. This is very old stale news, making the result helpful for few users. And so as Google’s ratings, basically, the medium needs is how many users does this help? Does it help everybody? Its height, you know, fully meets the needs? Does it help only a couple of people slightly meets or does not meet the needs of most users?

Katie Robbert 26:53
What’s interesting, and I’m looking at the example right below that the Honda Odyssey, I was going to ask about how do we know user intent, but this is saying we will assume that users are interested in the current honda odyssey model unless otherwise specified. And I think that I can see where, you know, these guidelines can be very vague and murky, because it’s making a lot of assumptions. You know, the way in which we as you know, humans search for information is so different, the way that the three of us would look for information, you know, is going to be very different, we could all be given the same task, but our approach is going to be different. The way in which we think about it is going to be different. And so it is fascinating to me that they are, you know, drawing that line in the sand and saying like, you know, we know that humans can be unpredictable, but this is how we’re going to predict them.

Christopher Penn 27:51
Exactly. And so one of the things that’s different about the needs met scale is that it is it is context dependent, right. So if we pull up this blog posts from last week, last week show, this page would meet the needs of somebody who wanted information about understanding shadow bands, it would not meet the needs of somebody looking for eyeshadow, right. So there’s no one score for a needs met thing it is it is all query dependent. And so you have query independent stuff like page quality, is this, is this a high quality page? Does it clear is Do we know who made it? Is it cluttered with ads, etc? Or is was the quality high? That’s one dimension? The second dimension is does it answer the question that the user has fulfilled the user’s intent. So if someone was coming to this page, looking for information about shadow bans, this page hopefully would fulfill that need. One of the things that SEO folks, in recent years have done a good job of understanding and communicating is that a page particularly like a landing page, should meet a very specific needs. So this is where having a user story would be really handy. So that you can say, Yes, this meets the need of this page.

Katie Robbert 29:11
And as a quick refresher, a user story is a simple statement with three parts as a persona, I want to say that the persona being you know, who the individual is the want to is the intent. And the so that is the outcome.

Christopher Penn 29:28
As a person recently laid off at Microsoft, I want to improve my LinkedIn profiles so that I stand a better chance of getting a job faster, right? That would be an intense user story for this page. And therefore, if somebody found this page by a search query for how do I improve my LinkedIn profile, this page would would meet those needs, right? There’s a course that you can take. That would help. Actually this page probably mostly meet needs because the page doesn’t have the information itself on it has a signup form for a course But in terms of fulfilling user intent, that’s what this page does, this page would poorly meet the needs. If somebody asked me how do I improve my LinkedIn marketing, to market to more people on LinkedIn, because that’s not what this course is about.

Katie Robbert 30:18
So that makes me wonder, you know, there’s the intent of the user and the question they’re asking, but there’s also our intent. Our intent is not to help people understand LinkedIn marketing. But if somebody’s intent was to understand LinkedIn marketing, we are then penalized or scored lower, because we didn’t meet that need

Christopher Penn 30:43
for this page. So remember, a page needs met is query dependent. So if that was the task, and so one of the things we would want to do is have those user stories written out, and then say to each critical page on your website, what is the user story for that page, right, for the important ones, obviously, you know, just some random blog posts like four years ago, you don’t need a user story for that. But if there are pages that are highly converting, perhaps, what is the the the user story of that page, and if you don’t have that, clearly written down, and that page may not be as focused as you want, which means it may not meet the intent of the user, or the many users or find their way through that page, you have a campaign landing page that you’re putting up for, say, Pay Per Click ads, again, so have that user story written out because if you don’t, there’s a good chance stuffs gonna find its way onto that page, especially when you’re designing by committee, that is not going to help, you know, people are not going to find it as useful.

Katie Robbert 31:41
Right now, and I understand that, but that wasn’t my question. My question is, aren’t the purpose of this page, from our perspective, is to help people who are looking for their LinkedIn profiles. If the task by the rater is LinkedIn marketing, then they’re going to rate our page low. And so we’re penalized for not answering the question that we didn’t know was being asked.

Christopher Penn 32:11
That’s correct. For that query, we this page will be rated as you know, slightly meets the needs.

Katie Robbert 32:18
Seems pretty rude.

Christopher Penn 32:24
And that’s why stuff like keyword research still matters so that you can see what people are searching for and try to determine what is the intent of it. It’s also why from a content creation perspective, having a longer tail keywords. So instead of having LinkedIn be the keyword for a page where you’re not sure what the intent is, having you know, how to fix my LinkedIn profile as your target focus for that page makes it much more clear that that’s, you know, it has lower search volume. But the intent is super clear. And so when you look at your keyword lists or your topic lists, you have to look at them and say, okay, are these topics that we are targeting clear enough that when somebody finds their way to our landing page for it, we fulfill the intent.

Katie Robbert 33:13
So it sounds like, you know, I wouldn’t say regardless. But despite all of the hoops that you feel like Google is making you jump through in order to have your page ranked higher. The basics of SEO still matter, making sure you’re doing your keyword research, making sure you are writing thoughtful, helpful content, making sure that you know who your audience is, and what questions they’re going to be asking that you can answer. So that all of that like if you focus on those things, then I feel like you don’t have to worry as much about this massive document, because you’re still doing the thing you set out to do with your SEO and your content marketing.

Christopher Penn 34:03
And one of the things that I think is useful as an exercise is, is doing this in reverse. So you look at pages on your website, they’re like this page should be doing better. Why is it? So the first thing you do is say, let’s do the user story for the page. And then you look at in Google Search Console, the search terms that are driving traffic to that page, and say, does the user story that we came up with match the Search Console data for that page that would indicate Oh, this is why people are on this page? And if the answer is no, you know, then then the remediation is pretty clear. If you want to fix that up, you can say, Oh, well, I clearly need to improve this page so that I’m doing a better job of fulfilling those needs. And the challenge that you’re going to run into is that Google’s Search Console interface does not actually help with that all that much, it’s actually kind of a pain in the butt. So you have to if you want to do that, well, you have to extract it out from the API itself, in order to, to do that assessment. So here, let’s look at the Trust Insights website. Let’s make this a little bit bigger, much larger than I wanted to be. So here’s an example, amp app review is the query. And this page is so what platform review Amazon amp? Does that page meets that need, right does does satisfy the intent of the user? So we’re looking for a review of that app? Yeah, I think you and John did that episode, would you say that you did a fairly good review of that.

Katie Robbert 35:46
I think it was pretty thorough. What do you say, John?

John Wall 35:48
Best amp review, ever.

Katie Robbert 35:52
But that was the exact question that we were answering was, what is the amp app? What does it do? And should you bother to spend your time with it?

Christopher Penn 36:04
Here’s one that’s further down a podcast manager salary. Does this episode, which is in your podcast, which is just about what my salary be? Does it answer the intent to that page? No, because that’s the intent of that query is someone who’s a podcast magic trying to figure out what their pay is and have that page does not meet those needs?

Katie Robbert 36:22
No, it was a more general, here’s how you as an individual should start to go ahead and do the research to find out. So you know, it’s interesting, because it’s not an immediate answer, but it gives you how to answer that question. And so this is where I can see it being problematic for the human raters is, so it didn’t tell you exactly the podcast manager salary, but it does tell you how to get to that answer.

Christopher Penn 36:52
Exactly. Scroll down a bit further here, you can see things like stem marketing, I don’t know what that is. AI generated copyright content copyright. Does that does this post answer? Yes, that that post, answers that very clearly. So part of the things that any content marketing manager should be doing is looking in their data. And again, unfortunately, to get this lined up by query and page, you have to extract it from the API. But to do this, you can then say, okay, are the pages that are getting traffic? Are the pages that were were showing up on social sites? Or do they match the intent of the searcher? And if they don’t, your choices are either you fix that page, or you spin up a separate page that answers that query? If there’s a lot of search volume on a given term? You know, let’s pretend that podcast manager was a hot thing. If we saw in SEO tool of our choice that that was 2000 searches a month? Yeah, that’d be worth putting up a dedicated page, just answer that question.

Katie Robbert 37:59
So what’s interesting, so that very bottom line that you said, you don’t know what that is? So, to us, STEM is a framework in terms of strategy tactics, execution measurement. But we don’t know if that’s what these the intent was, or if they meant science, technology, engineering, math. And so we don’t know if it answers the question. So we would have to dig deeper into the actual analytics on that page to see how long people were staying. Does it fit into, you know, does it contribute to people converting, like, there’s a deeper analysis that has to be done? Because just looking at this on a spreadsheet? I could say, yeah, it answers the question, because they were looking for STEM marketing. We gave them some marketing, but we don’t know what STEM stands for? Or do they mean like stem cell research, or the stem of a tree or a plant? Like we don’t know?

Christopher Penn 38:51
Exactly. And that’s where, again, using multiple tools, in your search, marketing can be helpful to parse that apart, because you are ultimately trying to get to those needs met ratings things. The other thing I’d say is, yeah, for marketers, in particular, go through the examples of the highest quality pages, and read the justifications and the explanations that Google specifically says, here’s why. This page is rated highest quality set, and they’re not necessarily great pages, right. So this is a highest quality page is this. Yeah, this is not exactly award winning artwork here. But the reason Google says this is the highest quality page is that says, we learned that color org is the main repository of source code for the Linux kernel makes all versions of source code available to all users. This website is the most authoritative source of information about Linux has a very positive reputation in the topic of the page. So this page, the reputation of the website around the topic, makes it highest quality, even if it’s not a particularly attractive page, it fully meets all the needs that Google is looking for. So people should be looking through these, you know, all these different examples and saying, Does my page meet those needs? So here’s one this is secret fears of the super rich as a magazine article, the article is on a magazine website and has won multiple National Magazine Awards, very positive reputation for this type of article, the article is in depth main content is unique and original, it shows effort, skill and original content. That’s the reputation goes beyond just know is this a well known entity or not there? They actually are citing there’s, there are awards that have been won. If you’re a content marketer, and you’re working on your, the reputation of your website and stuff, but all those awards, ceremonies and things and stuff may actually be heuristics that help a human rater go, Yeah, this is an award winning website, like Yeah, it’s the award was given up by my dog. But

Katie Robbert 41:08
well, but in all seriousness, this is why when we talk about the things that matter most in SEO, inbound links from good quality, reputable websites, and so you know, if Trust Insights is getting a lot of, you know, links from the Atlantic, which was that last website, you know, those are good quality, Google’s gonna go, okay. The Atlantic is linking to Trust Insights. So Trust Insights must also by association, have something important to offer, versus us just getting, you know, links from, you know, my personal website, which has like five pages on it, and not a whole lot of content. Yeah, I’m part of Trust Insights. But my personal website does not hold authority at all, you know, and so I can see where that is still an important distinction.

Christopher Penn 42:04
Exactly. Yeah. Here’s a chocolate chip cookie recipe. The author of this blog has documented extensive experimentation with the chocolate chip cookie recipe, and her expertise has demonstrated in large quantity of original, higher highest quality, main content. The author of this blog has documented her extensive experimentation, shows experience, and Expedition skills demonstrating the large quality. So let’s take a look at the chocolate chip cookie recipe. Because now I’m curious. Oh, it’s one of these that has, you know, 500,000 things in the oh, this is a grandma’s recipe that was handed down through the ages, all that stuff. But it’s less surprising now, when you look at the things that show up in search results, why those things show up? Because the heart of the training data? Is those human beings making these subjective calls that yeah, hearing about someone’s grandma’s cookies recipe from the 1800s that was carried on a wagon across the country. And the rest of us I could just show the frickin recipe already. But from a, a search quality rating perspective of can I convince a human rater, to rate this as authoritative? That ridiculous story actually matters.

John Wall 43:19
Well, and everybody loves the here’s the cookies, the butter was frozen. Here’s the cookies, the buddy, but it was room time it was melted. You know, I sprayed the butter from a compressor 20 feet away into the batter, you know, and you get all your different cookies. People love that stuff.

Christopher Penn 43:34
Yep. And the other part that’s interesting in the intent is that Google breaks out intents into series of different categories. There’s knowledge queries, like I just want to know something, how do I do something? I’m looking something I branded search intent, or you visit intent, right? Those are the big categories. So as you’re creating content for your website, you have to figure out which cat what kind of intent am I serving? And does this does this really contents fulfill one or more of these intents? And if so, which one? Does it fulfill the best? Interesting, yep. So that is the Quality Rating guidelines. The key takeaways, you have two dimensions, you have the page quality, which is query independent. And there’s an following the guidelines for what constitutes high quality content. And then there’s the the needs met dimension, which is quickly dependent on whether your site meets the needs of what the person is searching for. As a marketer. You’ve got to nail page quality out of the gate, right? Whether regardless of your site, it’s got to be high quality. And then you’ve got to have a good content plan to meet the needs of people based on the topics that you’re choosing to create content about.

Katie Robbert 44:53
So none of this replaces actually talking to your audience to ask them what they need from you, instead of you say Here’s what I think you need.

Christopher Penn 45:02
In fact, clearly, just on the fact that the search quality rating guidelines exist, and that they’re humans make, you know, rating things should be a telling sign that Google, one of the largest AI companies on the planet still requires humans as a key part of its training data. So if Google requires it, you probably do to

Katie Robbert 45:24
make sense. John, final thoughts. You gotta leave us to go be a raider.

John Wall 45:31
Do definitely steal this stuff for your own UX. You know, it’s like, here’s a plan for you. It’s like, find a prospect say, Hey, can you find this on my page and run them through the same thing, you can easily use this approach for your own stuff.

Christopher Penn 45:47
Exactly. Alright, folks. That’s it for this week. We will see you all next time. Thanks for watching today. Be sure to subscribe to our show wherever you’re watching it. For more resources. And to learn more, check out the Trust Insights podcast at trust AI podcast, and a weekly email newsletter at trust Got questions about what you saw in today’s episode. Join our free analytics for markers slack group at trust for marketers, see you next time.

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Trust Insights ( is one of the world's leading management consulting firms in artificial intelligence/AI, especially in the use of generative AI and AI in marketing. Trust Insights provides custom AI consultation, training, education, implementation, and deployment of classical regression AI, classification AI, and generative AI, especially large language models such as ChatGPT's GPT-4-omni, Google Gemini, and Anthropic Claude. Trust Insights provides analytics consulting, data science consulting, and AI consulting.

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