How much emphasis do you place on reputation management in SEO? It must be noted that there have been a number of recent ‘Core’ algorithm updates over the past 12 months, and these have coincided with Google publishing their Quality Rating Guidelines.
As Chris Silver Smith points out in SEL, all of these recent Google updates indicate that you can see improving SEO performance as managing the online ‘reputation’ of your website or brand as outlined in the Google Quality Rating Guidelines.
Many SEOs have cited those ‘quality factors’ included in the Google Quality Rating Guidelines have become increasingly important in the SERPs in terms of their weighting.
You should therefore consider the online reputation of your brand as your number one ranking factor, influenced by the performance of those ‘quality factors’ listed in Google’s QRG.
Read on for a summary of how Google could be using ‘human quality raters’ in combination with analysis algorithm models to improve it’s main ‘Core’ quality algorithm.
The ‘Core’ quality algorithm that is evaluating the Expertise, Authority & Trustworthiness (E-A-T), or in other words ‘reputation’ of your website and brand.
Google SearchLiaison has reiterated to the search community on multiple occasions that they should “review our search quality rater guidelines“, as these are the instructions used for search quality raters to check if their search “recipes” seem to be working. It’s a focus on Google’s E-A-T signals: Expertise, Authority & Trust.
As they are directing marketers to a set of guidelines for ‘human quality raters’, that are seemingly subjective concepts of trustworthiness, authoritativeness and trust.
We might expect an algorithm to analyse a collection of signals such as user reviews, backlinks and user experience metrics; to then use these to assess quality based on link trust analysis and relevance via search query analysis.
However, as Chris Silver Smith points out on SearchEngineLand, this seems far too limited. He believes that Google is taking into account further ranking factors beyond backlink & query analysis.
Chris sites the Website Quality Signal Generation patent from 2013, which describes how humans could be used to rate the quality of a website; Google would then use an analysis algorithm to automatically identify the relationship between human rating values and quantified signals to develop models for determining Quality Score.
The quality factors could include things such as (which are outlined in full later on):
Google can then use these signals from human quality raters when developing their relationship model; and this relationship model then enables an algorithm to evaluate unrated websites (those which have not been reviewed by human quality raters).
This is a scaleable method of improving the algorithm’s ability to determine website Quality Score.
It’s important to remember Google will almost certainly be computing Quality Score using machine learning to understand the relationship between human quality rating signals and website or web page characteristics.
This will enable a more complex analysis of how relationships can affect Quality Score. The patent outlines this approach:
“In some implementations, the model can be derived from the website signals and the website quality ratings using a machine learning subsystem that implements support vector regression.”
Once the computed relationship models have been applied to the search results, human raters will once again evaluate the SERPs to incrementally improve the results, subsequently feeding into the relationship models once again.
So, the reputation signals that could influence human raters and algorithms determining your Quality Score and therefore Expertise, Authority & Trust (E-A-T) include:
A number of the ranking signals listed above have been debated around their true impact on the SERPs based on various studies, and some might be difficult to see how some relate to ‘reputation’ at first.
But it’s important to remember that your website or company’s entire digital footprint is representation of it’s ‘reputation’. This includes the likes of social media and your brand presence throughout.
You should actively seek out professional forums and seek opportunities to build reputation by providing useful advice and expert content.
Maintenance of website or brand’s online ‘reputation’, of which has many components listed above, will yield significant SEO gains. Where does your brand stand?