From the horse’s mouth – what content does Google look for?

Screenshot of Google's Documentation page

Summary: Cool set of questions that Google looks for when ranking website content.

You’ll often hear people say the best way to boost your ranking with Google is to have great, useful, relevant content. Which to be honest ought to be pretty obvious… but isn’t, given the zillions of ways people come up with to try and game the SEO system.

So… what exactly does Google mean when they say it? I stumbled across an extremely helpful explanation from Google itself: Creating helpful, reliable, people-first content

Google’s automated ranking systems are designed to present helpful, reliable information that’s primarily created to benefit people, not to gain search engine rankings, in the top Search results. This page is designed to help creators evaluate if they’re producing such content.

From SEO Fundamentals,

The whole article is worth reading. Even better, the questions they ask are aimed at non-technical website owners.

Here are a couple of questions they recommend looking into when it comes to your content on your website or social media posts (sample questions are copied directly from the Google article)

Content and quality questions:

  • Does the content provide original information, reporting, research, or analysis?
  • Does the main heading or page title avoid exaggerating or being shocking in nature?
  • Is this the sort of page you’d want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend?

Expertise questions

  • If someone researched the site producing the content, would they come away with the impression that it is well-trusted or widely recognized as an authority on its topic?

Presentation and production questions

  • Is the content mass-produced by or outsourced to a large number of creators, or spread across a large network of sites, so that individual pages or sites don’t get as much attention or care?
  • Does content display well for mobile devices when viewed on them?

That’s still just a sample of the questions, so definitely go read the original. But the summary is the same as what I and most other internet old-timers are going to tell you: write for people first, avoid SEO “tactics” like stuffing keywords to try to make search-engine algorithms think your content is more interesting to people than it really is.

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David Innes,

I've been building and maintaining websites since 1997 and building and supporting similar hypertext-driven software since 1987. I've done maintenance, support, and maintenance for physical and digital systems since 1981. And no, I still haven't seen it all but by now I usually know where to look. More about David Innes...