by Nathan S
A 125-page document was recently leaked from Google headquarters; SEOs around the world salivated at the thought of getting access to some of Google’s closely-guarded secrets—surely, there would be some specific algorithmic information in here that the SEO world could manipulate to provide even better (perhaps even guaranteed!) service to their clients.
SEOs who thought this way were sorely disappointed. The document had no special algorithmic factors on it, or any real information about how to game Google into giving you a higher search rank. So, why are we talking about it?
The answer is this: The document, in question, was a policy guide for Google’s Quality Raters. That is, the real people that they hire to look at query results in order to judge how well their algorithm is working. These people, in many ways, constitute the QA department of Google’s main search function, and this guide was a description of what Google defined as “quality” and “relevance” as it pertains to content. Those SEOs who attempt to get insider information on Google’s algorithms will have to keep dreaming, but this information is highly useful to SEOs such as RevBuilders, who are focused more on providing a steady stream of quality content to the search engine.
The SEOMoz blog article, “16 Insights into Google’s Rating Guidelines,” does a better job explaining the “mindset” of Google as it pertains to search relevance, but I will sum up a few key points which would benefit any business owner to keep in mind.
Relevance and Spam Are Completely Unrelated
As a business owner, you want your website to be relevant, because you don’t want Google to perceive it as spam. However, the leaked document has revealed that it isn’t worth worrying about that ever happening. Google views relevance as a continuum: Your content can be relevant or not, and several steps in between. However, spam is a flag. This means that not all relevant content is not spam, and not all irrelevant content is spam. They are unrelated ideas as far as Google cares. And if you are a real business, with a real, valuable service to offer, Google is highly unlikely to flag your site as spam. So don’t worry about that; worry about being relevant because relevance is a good thing for your business.
Google Tries to Guess the User’s Intent
It would be a good idea to not share a business name with a business leader. Especially if the business leader’s name is also the name of some generic object (like, say, an apple). Why? Because Google’s raters are encouraged to favor those brands when searching on a generic query. This means that if you sell apples, you will have a hard time competing on the keyword “apple.” Not because you aren’t a valid apple vendor, but because Google will always assume that the user meant to type “Apple”—as in Apple Computers. Maybe you’ll do better ranking on a specific type of apple—maybe a mackintosh.
Google Guesses Intent on Misspelled Words
Wait. Wasn’t Apple originally Macintosh? Hm, okay, maybe we should try gala instead.