Google Says You Need Expert Writers: Content Standards From the New Search Guidelines

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Content Standards by Google Search Guidelines | SEJ

If you’re in the world of SEO, copywriting, or inbound marketing, it’s likely that you’ve already heard about Google’s release of the Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines in November 2015.

Designed to help Google’s own site evaluators master their jobs and wade through Google’s complex ranking system, these search guidelines are 160 pages of pure SEO goodness. But what do they say, exactly?

One of the most important takeaways from the guidelines as a whole is the need for expert writers to add a true level of authority to the content. Someone who, as Google says, has real-life experience in what they’re writing or talking about. Hence, a big need for expert writers and authors to produce content in an industry they already know.

Let’s discuss this and what you need to know.

The 101 on Google’s Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines

Despite all of their genius, ingenuity, and innovation, Google is a notoriously opaque organization and it has always been difficult at best (and impossible at worst) to understand their ranking algorithm.

While Google released a compressed version of the guidelines back in 2013, people wanted to know more. Recently, The SEM Post got ahold of a leaked copy and provided their own analysis on it. Google responded by releasing the guidelines in full in November of 2015, in this blog post, and the full 160-page PDF of Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines in its massive entirety.

Content Standards by Google Search Guidelines | SEJ

While the guidelines don’t simply tell marketers how to win at Google, they do provide a huge amount of information about what exactly Google evaluators are looking for, what makes a high-quality page, and how content should be written. It’s the last part we are especially interested in.

The Need for Expert Writers, According to Google’s Search Guidelines

It’s no secret that Google has always loved original, useful, and well-written in-depth content. Many of Google’s recent algorithm updates have been designed to reward high-quality pages that feature clear, concise, professional writing and to down-rank pages that feature duplicate, scraped, or careless content.

What is interesting about Google’s new guidelines, however, is that they place a huge emphasis on the need for expert writers, especially on pages that Google views as being very important. While it’s clear that Google has always valued quality content, it seems as if they’re now placing an increased focus on things like authority, as well.

E-A-T: Expertise, Authority, Trustworthiness Page Standard

Content Standards by Google Search Guidelines | SEJ

E-A-T is Google’s acronym for what exactly makes up a high-quality page. E-A-T stands for “Expertise, authority, trustworthiness” and it sums up exactly what Google is looking for in high-quality pages.

According to Section 4.3 of Part 1 of the guidelines, “High-quality pages and websites need enough expertise to be authoritative and trustworthy on their topic.”

At first glance, that may seem a bit vague, but Google goes on to clarify. The guidelines state that, in order for a page to possess those qualities, it needs to feature “expert” content written by “expert” writers:

  • Complex medical advice should only be given by people or organizations that possess appropriate accreditation. It should, likewise, be written in a professional style and will need to be reviewed, updated, and edited regularly in order to ensure that it remains current and authoritative.
  • Complex financial advice, tax advice, or legal advice should be written by expert writers and will need to be updated regularly.
  • Important advice pages that may affect a person’s finances or well-being (this includes investment pages, home remodeling pages, and parenting pages) needs to be written by an “expert” source.
  • Hobby pages on topics like hockey, horseback riding, or photography, require expert writers.

Pages that don’t feature this level of expertise or pages that cover a dense topic but offer little information will be marked as low-quality by Google’s evaluators. This is also true for pages with low-quality main content or content that is simply distracting or unhelpful.

What Makes an Expert?

Now that you know which pages require an expert writer, you may be wondering exactly what an “expert” is. Google makes it clear that that depends greatly on the topic at hand. Product or restaurant reviews, for example, can be considered “Expert” even if the person writing it isn’t a mystery diner or secret shopper. As long as the reviews are detailed and helpful, Google considers them expert content.

The same is true for forum-type discussions. In this case, Google provides the example of a cancer support community forum at Cancer Compass, where average people provide information about how long their loved ones lived with cancer. While these people are not doctors and are thus not qualified to write “expert” medical content, their firsthand experience (what Google calls “everyday expertise”) with cancer makes them qualified to write such content.

The takeaway? Pages require different levels of expertise. While advice on liver cancer itself needs to be written by an M.D., advice on coping with it in a family situation can absolutely be written by a layperson with firsthand experience.

Y-M-Y-L (Your Money or Your Life) Page Standard

Content Standards by Google Search Guidelines | SEJ

There are some pages that Google places under special scrutiny. These pages are called, “Your Money or Your Life” (YMYL) pages. Examples of these pages include:

  • E-commerce pages that provide a platform for purchases, money transfers, bill pay, etc.
  • Pages that offer information about investing in stocks and bonds, planning for retirement, purchasing a home, financing college, buying insurance, or filing taxes.
  • Pages that offer specific information or advice about health conditions, drugs, mental health, and nutrition.
  • Pages that offer legal information on topics like child support and custody, divorce, becoming a legal citizen, and writing a will.

YMYL pages are subject to special Google scrutiny because low-quality pages can easily negatively impact a Google user’s health, happiness, or finances. For this reason, it is especially important that these pages feature a high level of E-A-T and are written by qualified expert writers. That said, if you’re working on any topic that could have a major impact on users (car safety and repair, for example) it’s worthwhile to hire an expert writer.


While we’ve always known that Google loves high-quality content, it’s obvious that now more than ever, Google values content that is written by authoritative and trustworthy experts.

As we move into the new year, we can expect to see content that possesses these traits be rewarded while low-quality, low-expertise content is down-ranked. While expert writing has always been important, Google’s recently released guidelines make it clear that hiring expert writers is now necessary for a website to earn quality rankings. Webmasters are going to have to invest in a real author who knows their industry—an industry copywriting expert—instead of just the more general SEO copywriter.

High quality page must haves

Image Credits

Featured Image: ChameleonsEye/
In-post Photo #1: Alexey Boldin/
In-post Photos #2 and #3: Image by Express Writers. Used with permission.
Screenshot by Julia McCoy. Taken December 2015.

Julia McCoy
Julia McCoy is a bestselling author of So You Think You Can Write, podcaster, and avid content marketer. She’s the founder and CEO of Express... Read Full Bio
Julia McCoy
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  • Great insightful article about content writing. Every content writers and digital marketer should aware of this.

  • A few months ago, I had a strong sense that this was going to be the new standard moving forward. It’s difficult to find experts in their field (outside of academia) that want to consistently produce written content. At least enough writers to produce enough content to replace all of the thin content out there that is on its way out.

    I assume that at your company, you focus on hiring good all-around editors and writers. Do you have to shift your resource model so that you think expert first vs quality writer first? I see a huge opportunity for companies that are able to find expert thinkers in every industry, extracting their knowledge and packaging it as valuable content. Even if the experts don’t consider themselves to be writers or don’t have the time to write. Or will brands begin to obligate their in-house expert staffers to produce content regularly? It will be interesting to see how this will play out…

    • Roger Rogerson

      If (and it is an “if”) that is the way G are looking at it,
      then that is the only way to work things.

      The truth is that most people aren’t that great at writing, have poor grammar and worse spelling.

      Further, even people with good writing skills aren’t necessarily good at communication nor engaging their audience (look at the number book authors and how many build loyal fan bases).

      Then there’s the “yard stick” issue – whose yard stick are they using? Do you really want to rate recipe write-ups by the same standard as math analysis? Should a personal experience blog use the same measure as a professional review site?
      What about personal style, tone, perspective, writing techniques etc.?

      I have my doubts about it – unless G are very (very!) sure that they can identify the type of content, the type of site, the type of audience, and rank based on those (which to me suggests it would be a layer of personalisation rather than a core ranking metric).

      I think it’s full of holes and pitfalls – and could only really be applied to certain forms of site/content/audience.

      • SunShine

        Yes — I agree! And this is the very reason that PR students are taught not only journalism skills but also marketing communication, persuasion and strategy development skills (re paragraph three above.) PR professionals are not publicists, although publicity is one of the skill sets. It’s this field that, imho, is best suited for online communication/writing work as they have the requisite skills to be able to popularize technical language, or, in other words, to translate the complex into simple language more easily understood by people across fields. My sense, at this writing, is that Google is now going to penalize an entire field of well-trained writers, while rewarding field experts who are unable to communicate their thoughts in writing. On the other hand, I am growing weary of writing that fails to inform, persuade or entertain and is packaged with syntax, grammar, spelling, transition and flow errors. I am also weary of writing that does not include attribution to expert or authoritative sources. Postscript: I have taught in the journalism schools of two universities for about 11 years.

      • Roger Rogerson

        Personally, I don’t see how G can do this.
        It’s perfectly possible to write pieces that are grammatically correct, misspelling free, succinct, unambiguous and completely useless. At the other pole, you can create content that is riddled with various forms of error and yet be highly useful and informative.

        The only things that I can see working are;
        a) Profile based influences – popular writers
        b) Profile based influences – personalised results
        c) Topic (domain) influences – comparisons between pages in the same niche
        d) Term influences – comparisons between pages for the same term
        Each have their own set of issues, and no single approach would work from what I can fathom.
        Instead, it would have to be;
        1) Hybrid
        2) Minimal influence (one of G’s many “all else being equal” signals).

    • SunShine

      As someone who has worked in and with academics/scientists for many years in my career, I can assure you that those individuals are *not* skilled writers and use staff writers to write their copy. Even research proposals get the hand of editors/writers on university campuses. I know few scientists from my two university experiences that are desirous of writing for any general public audiences. They are overwhelmed with teaching, research and grant writing tasks. To reach the general public or non-scientific groups requires people with writing skills and usually it’s a journalism degree that is sought. Google’s decision is rather unsettling to me.

  • Nishant Raja

    hey Julia, thanks for sharing such vital information. I was not aware of most of these things. Now I can prepare myself better for creating content that matches Google’s standards. thanks once again.

  • manoj

    nice blog

  • Now I understand why The Verge sucks so bad. Their writers are mostly clueless kids.

  • Roger Rogerson

    This raises multiple questions.

    1) How is G to automatically know that the author is authoritative or possesses the required expertise, skills or knowledge?

    2) Does this imply that content written by “non-authorities” will be downgraded/negatively affected?

    3) Is G now parsing the text from a writing quality perspective?

    4) Will there be the same type of bias in Authors as there is in Sites?

    Some thoughts…

    1) When G introduced G+ and the subject of Author Rank cropped up – I promptly pointed out the potential for a Social Graph that would enable G to identify prominent, popular and trusted authors.I also suggested ways that G could use “normal” people as a method of gauging authors and their content, and by the same measure, sites (and thus other authors on those sites).

    2) G normally only apply negatives to severe cases (such as very slow loading sites). We’ve seen the same with Panda – G only hit the worst sites with the worst offenses, and slowly worked their way from there.
    So the chances of G punishing sites for not hiring professional writers is slim.
    Instead it is far more likely that G will reward content that seems to be more polished.

    3) In the past G have stated that they don’t spell check nor do they grammar check … I’m left wondering if that area has changed. Several key ways of identifying if someone is experienced is in their wording. The difference between professional and amateur is often one of structure and word usage as well.

    (Think about how G attempts to automatically identify authors … this could give clues as to identifying quality.)

    4) Despite what G says – we all know that there are various degrees of “favouritism” in the SERPs. Ranging from Popular sites through to sites with enough ranking weight/link popularity to withstand anything barring a massive negative penalty.

    • It’s easy to spot expert content from non, IMO. So it should be for Google, too.

      Cheap content is thin, poorly written, your “writer” friend could come up with it. Nothing too in-depth. Surface level. “General” writing.

      Expert content is truly in-depth; addresses the question with a real answer that uses the right terminology. IE expert lingo. I don’t know IT terms in-depth, but my software friend who’s worked in the field for years can, and would be able to give a really thorough answer on an IT question using said correct lingo – unlike me, a general writer with a different expert niche. Also, custom visuals the author made to address the question. There are more expert content clues. The amount of additional content the expert content producer creates to address similar content (ties into Topical Trust Flow).

      It’s not about “one author” being expert, unless we’re talking about Quora…it’s about the site the content is on, and subsequently THEIR quality of content. Hence the need for businesses to not only get good writing when they launch their site, but, if they want to matter in Google, EXPERT writing. Hire a copywriter who is an expert in their particular industry. That can be your “ghostwriter expert.”

      Have you read the 160-page doc? I have, and think that it’s truly insightful. And I think (surprisingly) very clear. I would suggest going to read it, some of your questions here are answered by the doc.

      • Roger Rogerson

        Okay … try this.
        Look through “this site” and try rating the 40 articles prior to this one.
        * Many of the authors are supposed experts.
        * Many are writers and produce quantities of content.
        * Many are established/known in their field.

        Now tell me which of the articles you’d classify as being;
        * Well written
        * Written be an expert
        * Informative
        * High quality

        Now go and find 10 people from different fields and 10 from no-field.
        Get them to do the same.

        What do you think the results will be?

        You also miss the issue of domain knowledge. To do what you imply, G would have to have expertise in a an awful lot of topics and fields. It would have to know the language, the structure, the facts.
        Further, it would have to be able to tell the difference between common knowledge, common misconception, actuality, possibility, potential etc. etc. etc.

        People have been studying linguistics and computer knowledge for more than 50 years … and we still tend to fall short of 95% in many cases. Tagging parts of speech, identifying end of sentences, identifying word sense (hard enough in many cases, worse when dealing with domain/topic specific language), understanding cata-/ana-phora, identifying syntactic relations, elision, gapping and other clausal structures etc. etc. etc. Each step generally has a 5%+ error rate, and compounds with each additional step. The more complex the text, the more error prone.
        By the time you’ve finished processing, you’re lucky if you are 75% accurate.
        You also have to look at topic/domain identification (which for coarse levels is very accurate, for sub-fields is damned poor in some cases), and then there are things like author identification.

        Have I read it?
        Yes, and the various leaked ones over the years. I’ve also spent time talking to actual Googlers and know some of the issues they faced with things like usability and behavioural analysis.

        No – they don’t answer the questions. (See, how is G going to know that “they” refers to the guides? :D).
        The guides are simply measuring devices to analyse the results. G are unlikely to be directly measuring certain features – and instead are abstracting it, utilising sub-level features or proxy features to substitute or represent the surface features identified.

        In return, have you studied NLP/IR+E/ML/AI?
        If you had, you’d know that a large part of what you are assuming is more than a little complicated and error prone 😀

        At the end of the day there are vast distances between;
        “well written” and “knowledgeable”, “useful”, “informative”, “actionable”, “detailed” etc.
        In some cases you are looking at a spectrum … between two points. In others you are looking at a spread with multiple points, including different dimensions.
        Think about this – G can spot thin content. They’ve been doing it to various degree’s for years. I can write an informative and detailed piece in 500 words. I can generate a 1.5K piece of absolute fluff … both will use all the right words. How will G decide which is thin? Word count? Frequency of specific words/terms? Proximity of those terms? Specific phrases, or the lack of? Entities, points of data, citations, references, quotes? Types of words/phrases? Level of language? Syntactic structure? Syntactic complexity/simplicity? Semantic structure?

        As for ghost writing – you may need to be careful with that.
        Several years ago a bunch of us looked at what G where doing with Authourship and Automatic Author Identification. There is every chance that “ghost writing” may become problematic at some point.

      • Here’s the thing, R. Rogerson. From what I see and read – I think you, and many tech SEOs in fact, are studying this all TOO deeply, and still thinking of SEO as a “ranking game.”

        When I put out my content these days – and this “non-SEO” mindset I can trace back to August of 2013 – I am NOT thinking of SEO. I am thinking of “what topic will my audience most find interesting, relevant, and useful TODAY?” AND I tied my BEST findings, insights, and creation into that article. “SEO” in and of itself was my very last thought. I plugged in the keyword that appeared the most and made the most sense after I wrote the whole thing and put it into a post draft.

        I asked myself that when I created this piece. I asked myself that for an article I wrote on curation tools on my blog that still ranks in the top 10 results of Google. Ever since I put this mindset to “on” in my brain, I’ve seen huge results in rankings. 100+ keywords now in the top 10 of Google. (Hopefully I’m not putting my foot in my mouth with any of this if Google decides to not favor good content…you never know!)

        I think if we all sat down and created this kind of content, we’d eventually see great results, just like I have.

      • Roger Rogerson

        Yes and no (again).

        The core problem I have here is you make observations and generate posts proclaiming that is how things are. That X=Y, and that G looks for ABC and ranks based on ABC.
        No real research.
        N o real testing.

        What you propose, the base view – is 100% accurate. It’s what G has been pushing for over a decade.
        It’s what some of us have pushed for for almost as long (please do not mistake me for typical SEOs :D).
        But you fall down at the technical hurdle.
        To be honest, the only reason I don’t launch into tirades and poke massive holes in things is because your core message and sentiment is a good one – produce quality that focuses on your audience.

        No – it’s not a ranking game … but it is a system, and it can be analysed.
        That’s how comes I know that XYZ has a direct affect, that ABC are indirect, that DEF have additional influence if G or H are present, and that IJKLM have no influence what so ever.

        Give me the URLs of the pieces you are ranking for, and the terms they rank for … and I will likely be able to tell you why you rank so highly for them.
        Chances are that;
        a) they aren’t overly competed terms
        b) the host domain has a fair amount of authority/popularity
        c) the pages (and/or sibling pages) have been promoted (link popularity)
        Chances are you could pick an equally competed term generate a post for it, follow the same steps and still get the same ranking.
        I say this based on years of practice, research and experience 😀
        (Don’t take my word for it! Go and ask others, and try it yourself. I’ll even walk you through the steps so you can produce an accurate test-set … would make for an interest piece, and you’d see how the “over analytical” method holds value :D)

        There are literally tens of thousands of good pages out there, buried in the SERPs whilst more popular garbage ranks. It’s unfair, unjust and shouldn’t happen – and G are trying to find ways to work around it … but at the same time they cannot afford to upset the apple-cart. They need certain sites to rank for certain searches – so they have to find a balance every time they introduce new factors, or alter the weight of existing factors. Else you’d find that when people search for certain things, the brands wouldn’t be on page one 😀

        So, as it currently stands, though we are not as far down the trash-path as we were 10, 5 or even 3 years ago … “Quality Content” won’t rank that highly on it’s own merits.
        That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be producing it – the main reason being that Ranking is not the end-objective. Traction and Conversion are the main goals. Ranking garbage won’t do much unless you get tons of traffic … where as a few good quality pieces will get less traffic but better lead-generation, and keep on paying over time (where as garbage tends to die fairly quickly).

      • Roger, I won’t lump you in with the “SEOs” anymore 😀 That’s a very intelligent response you wrote. Agree exactly with the statement Google can’t upset certain top co.s… their Adwords structure alone support that (the secret reason why Authorship was removed…real people’s faces messed with ad revenue clicks!)

      • Roger Rogerson

        thank you (I absolutely hate being considered an “SEO” :D).
        And thank you for not taking it negatively or punching back.

        It is a tough and difficult line to walk.
        You know what G wants, you know what works on people … but you just can’t quite put your finger on data examples that “prove” it.
        To be honest, it sucks.

        On the upside, same as with site-speed … now that people knwo G are looking at things like Usability/UserExperience, Content Quality … they will pay more attention to it.
        I daren’t guess as to the degree of influence, nor the direction (I foresee hours trying to devise tests coming), but we do know “it’s there … somewhere”.

  • Siri Innovations

    As per Google algorithm update now a days the content playing the key role in the SEO for that we have to need the expert content in the website, Blogs and articles.

  • Thanks for the update julia. Google’s recent update will definitely ensure more quality content get ranked in SERP.

  • medchrome

    Does this mean end of blogging for lay people?
    Blogging is already dead and now it is dying again

    • Hey “Medchrome,” love to hear more of your thoughts as to why. Thanks for reading SEJ!

      • medchrome

        I mean, Blogging was once a trending this in google for providing the fresh content when internet was more lousy. Laymen left jobs and started working online on different projects. Some worked on Arts, nutrition, health, weightless, make money. I know most aren’t really expert but enthusiasts.
        With Google changing policies continuously, most blogger couldn’t keep up with change, so with new algorithms , blogs eventually disappeared from searches.
        Now I am feeling the Expert criteria will virtually eliminate the survivor bloggers.

        I mean may be good for users but even sincere bloggers will die out eventually.
        It’s my understanding.

      • There is NO way blogging is dead – entirely the opposite, in my experience. 95% of my organic traffic, and leads, is entirely through the content rankings of our blogs and websites (organically, no paid ads). I have over 600 blogs posted on my site across 4 years. My rankings chart has been steadily increasing ever since I maintained high quality blogging standards (good, original, in-depth, 2k word stuff). The arrow just keeps going up, this month was one of our best. Quite the opposite: blogging is flourishing and will be even more in 2016 – IF, and only IF, you have an “expert” voice and are prepared to do the work and effort it takes to create that in-depth, niche, expert content that answers questions and solves a direct problem.

      • medchrome

        Does it mean that the Health content will have to be written by doctors or medical experts. Suppose we have a non medical health enthusiasts writing for years, how will he/she be certified whether one is expert or not.
        Actually the term Expert is very loosely defined.
        Can you clarify on my doubt.

      • I think it’s just that – it is actually loosely defined. A writer can be in fact “writing for years” in that industry and grow their knowledge. I taught myself in SEO and copywriting and now have a 6 figure business and am launching a book, podcast, and CMS system next year. I don’t think of myself as an “expert” but Google must – they are ranking hundreds of my pages in the first 10 results. So, an expert could either be textbook with a degree or self-taught = they both write with the same level of expert knowledge in that industry = Google favors both.

        But, being engaging along with being an expert in the industry could trump just the dry expert, that is why you must not only have an expert, but an expert WRITER… someone who really knows how to write, craft great headlines, target an audience with their copy, etc. I’ve seen a lot of great general writers study an industry and write expert level content for it quite successfully. Excellent writers are creative chameleons of sorts.

        Now, some industries, being a self-taught expert will be harder – heart surgery, medical advice, legal advice, etc. Think back to the YMYL pages. Legal, financial stuff. These are industries that require intense terminology and knowledge (otherwise you’re speaking Greek as a writer), so career-expert industry writers will be absolutely a must.

  • Aqil Amjid Khan

    This means we have to bring changes to a lot of things. Just getting on to it, will make everything the way google wants I don’t want to loose my visitors

  • SunShine

    So an individual who is trained in journalism and who teaches journalistic writing at the university level is not considered an expert writer but a person with knowledge in one field who is not expert at writing is considered an expert writer. Wonderful. I’m all for eliminating the time wasted reading weak writing that is inaccurate and/or poorly written but to discount the value to site visitors of expertly crafted copy by trained writers is not sitting well with me.

  • Ozair Akhtar

    I think it’s my first hand experience to this guide.

  • I am fascinated to know how Google can actually tell what expert level content is compared to just decent or mediocre content? 98% of website owners out there will not have professional writers at their disposal…

    • Their doc explains it… the EAT/YMYL standards, and the actual page quality rating scales are broken down. Expert content is pretty much defined in the doc. And 100% of website owners can easily access a pro writer if they just search and compare the best writing services online. (Avoid the cheap ones by all means to avoid a Google pitfall.)

      • Yes I’ve been reading through the PDF it’s quite the long read but it certainly sheds some light on things for sure. I should have said however 98% of website owners may not realize they need a pro writer. Your right finding access to one wouldn’t be that difficult….

      • You’re right! We’re still educating our content creation clientele on the need for “expert” author voice. Some have switched to this content and have seen better results already.

  • Kamal Gir

    How can google identify if content on a website is written by a expert writer? All content on the web is not about medical advices, or finance. On website pages, we never mention the author name

    • It’s not about the AUTHOR, but the expert nature of the content itself on a site. Does it truly address the question? I even wonder if social shares and bounce rate tie in…those are real human statistics…Google doesn’t mention those things though.

  • Nice post,but whenever google updates algorithm,Content,Panda 4.0 always site ranking will slow down,at a time if its happen on upcoming year of 2016 mean,how we can handle our SEO Traffic.

  • SEO world nightmare 2016 – nobody can provide quality ranking anymore. Google 2016 nightmare – nobody can predict behaviour of search algorithm.

    • tareqhassan

      I just agreed with you. There are nothing to reveal where is nothing to predict !!!

    • Now that we have a 160 page doc from Google, we can not only predict the behavior of the algorithm, but KNOW how it works. Thanks, Google!

      • Roger Rogerson


        What the guide gives us is a bunch of things that G asks people to look at and an indication of how they perceive them.
        Whether G actually uses all of them is a different matter.
        How G uses them is another matter.
        How much of an influence they have is yet another matter.

        G are not going to treat content on an ecommerce page the same as content on a blog or article site. They won’t use the same rating on a hobby site as they do on a professional site.
        The question is, what are the differences? Different metrics? Different features for those metrics? Different values? Different combinations?

        It’s not one algorithm.
        There is one core algorithm, with an awful lot of sub-algorithms and likely optional sub-algo’s as well. Some generate core data sets, other are used for reranking that core set, others still for changing the order further down the chain (such as local or preference personalisation).

        Much of what is contained in the guides is not new. Much of it has been covcered in previous ones. Some folk have attempted to reverse engineer b ased on tests and those guides – and the best they’ve managed is around 70% accuracy.
        That means 3 in 10 predictions are wrong … and we don’t know how wrong, nor do we know how consistent.

        It’s not that easy 😀

      • Maybe it is easier than you think… AND harder than you think.

        MAYBE ranking online is as simple as sitting down, asking yourself what topic will my audience most find interesting, relevant, and useful TODAY? and pouring your best unique findings, insights, and creation into that piece of content, promoting correctly afterwards… and doing this consistently.

        That’s super easy to actually focus on, but really hard to deliver on.

        If more of us actually did this, however, we’d all see better online ranking and marketing results.

      • Roger Rogerson

        Yes! … and a little no.
        As it currently stands – you can create the best piece of content in the history of the net,
        and you’d still be lucky to reach page 5 of the SERPs.
        The reason being that the majority of the influential factors are not based on the content – which is a shame.

        That said – quality content with a little promotion should be sufficient to gain traction and deservedly accrue external factors (such as links/authority etc.) over time.

      • True in the short term. You can have a site with page and domain authority which is not even a great site out rank you. No one said life is fair, however, yes getting quality content in front of people can change that. Link earning as some like to call it. I call it relationship building.

      • Roger Rogerson

        Erm … “Link Earning” and “Relationship Building” are two completely different things.

        Yes, ideally great content will win over time.
        The reality is that if you create great content – and it gets no attention, then it won’t gain much in the way of ranking. It will simply sit on page 5+ of the SERPs, being seen by only the die-hard searchers.
        This is truth – try doing some searches for specific script functionality in a given language, or researching a martial art, or finding out about slavery etc. etc. etc. – tons of good pages, all buried in the SERPs beneath more popular/branded sites, or sites that actively promoted their content.

        That’s not “short term”, that’s any-length-of-time.
        If you don’t get links, you don’t rank that well compared to anyone that does get links.
        Unfortunate, but true.
        (Im yet to see anyone post one of the “miracle” URLs that ranks for a given term that has no links, even moderate competition and outperforms it’s competitors.)

        Please, don’t get me wrong Nicholas (nor Julia for that matter :D) … I wish (WISH!!!) … that it wasn’t that way.
        The times I shouted at certain Googlers in forums/chat/conference calls about it.
        The same as Original content ranking vs stolen content … or sites with better accessibility outranking sites that aren’t usable barring mouse etc.
        I’ve railed at them for years … and they are getting there – just far to slowly. It’s a lot of rot they let build up, and it’s slow going chiseling it all out 🙁

      • I misspoke re: Link earning vs. relationship building. yes different although I see them both from an engagement standpoint. Ideally, you need both. As for ranking, It really depends on what your competing for and against and what you’ve got in your arsenal so to speak.

        I have a page with a PA of 1 and domain authority of 16 and no links. It outranks many sites e,g. PA 35 and DA of 86 with 68 links. Granted This is a local search query. Luckily, it gets high volume. Is it easy? NO but it’s nice when it happens.

        National terms are an entirely different matter. Some as you’ve pointed could never be caught or some could take years, It really depends. You’ve underscored some good points.

      • Roger Rogerson

        There are definite overlaps/similarities between RB and LE, same as with Link Building, Social Marketing or general Link Spamming … sometimes the differences are numerous but tiny, other times it’s an abstract difference (such as “intent” :D).

        That there is the key!
        What you’re targeting, and how you’re targeting.
        The more you can do, the better you can do it – the better the end result.
        Promoting garbage works … but takes a lot of promotion.
        Promoting quality works … and takes less effort than promoting garbage … but takes a lot of effort to create.
        Setup the on-site/technical, create the content, tweak for optimization, promote … and promote again, revisit content tweaking … and keep that process going for each new piece.
        Most people don’t realise that some on-page values increase over time, nor that G will rank new content based on older contents performance. So over time you should naturally improve. Add in increasing your rep and relationships, naturally increasing your exposure/promotion reach/rate … and again, you should naturally rank better over time.
        (The problem being others are too :D)

  • Thanks for this useful post, i think that will encourage webmasters to improve their web site content. After all Google main target is the simple user, and bring a valuable results in less time is the key of succes of any search engine.

  • superseo

    content is king in #SEO

    • It looks that way

      • Proper formatted and informative fresh content is kingdom..

    • joseph peterson

      Content isn’t king, it’s the kingdom. -Someone famous in marketing said that. I can’t remember who.

  • Hmmmnn.. More of the “Elephant In The Room” for 2016. BUT, as usual your solution is simple – just produce actually useful/valuable material on your flogging Sites.

    If you can’t say something that isn’t old hay, do something else. Run a competition.

    i haven’t found anyone in the last 20 years claiming to be a Search Engine Expert who has even read Bernays

    • joseph peterson

      Ah, Bernays. The industry is dying when circular conversations on nothing are suddenly more valuable than a deep cultural understanding a la Bernays.

  • Since content is now more powerful in the world of SEO. I truly agree that there is really a need to hire an expert to this type of industry. As a writer, you’re not a machine like you’re just atleast combining words, sentences and build an article instead as a writer, you have to put effort and life to what you are writing base on a real life experience unto it.

  • I couldn’t agree more. We need to have quality content and it should be long, with good stuff and with the stuff that is creative and readable by anyone on the internet.

  • Sunil

    I have been writing since the time when black hat seo was on prime compared to the one construed to be the acceptable standard, white hat seo, as people believed dodging google to increase their website’s rankings was way too easier chore, and quite ludicrously, it was UNTIL recently when the giant search engine understood significance of content for its OWN SURVIVAL to say the least. Since the time, even tough i was a rookie writer, i always laid emphasize on QUALITY and READABILITY of content in a blog or article, which literally irritated most but i believed there were days to come in future when QUALITY will beatdown everything existing as pseudo content writer. Anyway, i am on cloud nine after reading of such nature emphasizing quality, sounds like at least what i believed in, is going to be a universal mutual standpoint. This also brings a good opportunity, or CHALLENGE for WRITERS to get their act together and stop writing knee-jerk opinions. The ulterior motive also is we can’t IGNORE readers at any cost, and they emerge, as usual or as expected, euphemerically the LIFELINE of writer’s survival.