In recent years the industry will buzz after each algorithm update about specific measures that have changed regarding the BBB rating or the number of reviews, etc. Often Google will come out and say that certain items are not specifically part of the algorithm, even when much of the data would say otherwise.  In many cases, you have to look at the official Google response very closely and read between the lines a little bit.  Chris Silver Smith recently wrote a brilliant article for Search Engine Land, diving into how he believes Google is using machine learning to incorporate the Quality Evaluator Guidelines into the algorithm.

Evaluating Quality in Search Results

Online Review Management - GoogleGoogle acknowledges having people who manually look at sites and score them according to their guidelines. They claim that these reviewers are more to see if the algorithm is working and don’t necessarily manually change rankings. Chris Silver Smith suggests that Google can take these results and have them evaluated with machine learning to come up with ways to create a “quality score” for a site, much like they do with Google Ads and ranking.  It should be stated that this is not the same quality score, but the same general idea.  Chris does a great job eloquently laying this out in great detail and it makes lots of sense.  Google is always trying to find a way to put a metric on these quality items and by using machine learning to evaluate quality signs that these reviewers take into account, they can slowly get better at this over time.

Some of the signs of quality that aren’t as easy to nail down to a specific metric are:

  • How easy is it to contact this business
  • Who are the people behind this business
  • Do they have a good reputation through reviews, BBB, etc.
  • Is the content helpful, unique, and of good quality (beyond word count and grammatical accuracy)

These are all important pieces of the puzzle that Google wants to work at capturing and the theory that Chris puts out there is a great and reasonable way to make it all make sense. It also allows Google to vaguely keep telling everyone to keep making your content better and there is no individual factor shift in updates, as it is often a blend of many things at once. Make sure you have a legitimate about page that explains your business and your business can be contacted reasonably in multiple ways.  Provide good content that makes people happy and you are ahead of the game.  Definitely check out his article if you are interested in SEO because the future is here and this is a great overview.