What counts as a high-quality page?

I’ve shown recently that if the question is obscure enough, you don’t need to do much to get a page which ranks top in Google for that question. And let’s face it, in the market sectors which most engineering and scientific businesses operate, most questions can be considered to be fairly obscure. After all, just start to list how many other sites on the web even might offer an answer to the sort of questions your customers could be asking. It’s not surprising that often, none do.

However, I wouldn’t recommend one-line answers to questions, even if that can sometimes work. Put in a bit more effort, and you’re likely to rank in the search engines and make it difficult for competitors to overtake you in the future. A few short paragraphs may be all you need.

Google issued guidance on what it considered to be ‘high quality sites’ back in 2011, and there’s no reason to think that much has changed. The search engine issued a couple of dozen questions which it said its algorithms would try to ask when assessing a page. It’s had several years to develop techniques to do this, and I suspect it has got a lot further down that path than most of us imagine possible. If your page meets these requirements, expect to be ranked very favourably.

Of the questions listed, I’d pull out the following as being particularly noteworthy and straightforward to tick off:

  • “Is this article written by an expert or enthusiast who knows the topic well, or is it more shallow in nature?”
  • “Does the site have duplicate, overlapping, or redundant articles on the same or similar topics with slightly different keyword variations?”
  • “Does the article provide original content or information, original reporting, original research, or original analysis?”
  • “Does the page provide substantial value when compared to other pages in search results?”
  • “Would you expect to see this article in a printed magazine, encyclopedia or book?”

My tips to deal with these would be:

  • By-line the article with somebody from the company, particularly if it’s somebody who’s qualified; you could perhaps link their name to a LinkedIn page or somewhere which contains their biography
  • Keep the articles on separate topics; if you want to cover “how do I detect blue widgets” and “how do I monitor blue widgets”, try to do it in a single article rather than write two similar ones with different headings
  • Ensure nothing is lifted from other sources – rewrite any existing information as much as possible (then rewrite it again)
  • Even if the question you’re targeting doesn’t have a direct answer in the search results, look at what is appearing, and make sure your content is better
  • Just imagine you’re answering a customer’s question, face to face; don’t write in a contrived way to include lots of keywords.