By the time you read this, you’ve probably already have seen the “leaked” search Quality Rating Guidelines from Google. (link here, opens new window)
If you are even remotely interested in SEO, (and why would you be reading this is you weren’t), you owe it to yourself to give this document a once over.
One thing to keep in mind is that no matter what processes are put in place, promises made, secret pacts made, and NDA agreements signed, we as humans SUCK at keeping secrets.
So one has to think that Google knows that this document will eventually reach some SEO expert’s hands. And that just how they planned it.
By having an “internal” document that lists guidelines on what reviewers should look for, they helped to confirm black hat techniques like cloaking that will fool a human easily, and the search bots most of the time. At the same time they scare the hell out of “white hat” webmasters who follow everything Google says without question.
All this does is make Google’s job easier. Sure, you get the benefit of possibly appearing in their search results, but who are they to tell you what to do with your site?
This is where the human reviewers enter the scene. When Google sees a site that is moving up in the rankings rapidly that seems to have emerged from nowhere, or suddenly acquired a ton of links, they get chosen to get a human review.
Here’s another interesting tidbit about the Google reviewers – they are expected to move at a very fast pace. So, your site might contain the secret of life on it, but if it’s cluttered with ads and looks like a three year old built it, you can get flagged.
Perhaps one of the most ridiculous parts of the human reviewing system is where they are asked if the site is useful (matched the intent of the query), but it can still be labeled as spam. WTH?
So for all the greater good that the Google Algorithm conjures up, it’s still very much possible to get flagged as a spammy site from some soccer mom that didn’t like your color scheme used on your site, or the way you are monetizing your content.
Where does this leave us? Like many times in life, sometimes you are screwed no matter how good your intentions are. The best thing to do is to continue to generate high-end content, and build yourself as a brand. It’s about the only way to avoid any Google algorithm updates…