The SEO is full of myths and misconceptions.
One reason for this is that search engine algorithms are a mystery. No one outside of Google knows exactly how they work.
But, Google has published manuals that say exactly what their algorithms want to do .
These are Quality Rater Guidelines Google, a 160+ page document that Google has made publicly available.
This is exactly the document that Google employees call Search Quality Raters (Quality Evaluators), and which they use to evaluate the quality of search results.
At the time of writing, this guide was last updated on May 16, 2019.
Although the guide doesn’t say exactly what to do to rank higher, it says a lot about the things Google pays attention to when calculating rankings.
For example, Google asks quality reviewers to rate the quality of a page on a scale from “Lowest” to “Highest” (pictured below):
In this post, we will list everything that Google says it does not like or sees as “low” and “lowest” quality, according to the manual.
Simply put – if you avoid most of the things listed below – then you should improve your site’s ranking and reduce the chance of losing search traffic with future algorithm updates.
Without further ado – here are the 40 things that Google does not like, according to Quality Rater Guidelines .
1. Pages that do not meet their purpose
Google’s quality assessment guidelines say a lot about the purpose of web pages.
According to them – any web page can be considered as serving a purpose.
For example, the purpose of the page may be to provide information, allow someone to buy something, or make someone laugh.
Any page that has a purpose but doesn’t serve it well gets a low Quality Score.
Pages that have no purpose receive the lowest rating.
2. Inadequate EAT
The instructions also constantly talk about EAT, in short for Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness.
They also define a term called YMYL, short for “Your Money, Your Life.” (“Your money, your life”). These are topics that can affect a person’s health, finances, happiness and safety.
When a YMYL page has inadequate levels of EAT which are relevant to the purpose of the page, this means that it will receive the lowest or lowest quality score.
This can happen when the creator of the page does not have sufficient adequate expertise on the topic, or the site is not an authoritative source.
An example might be when someone who has no medical knowledge writes an article about a serious illness, or information about the adoption of a child is on a spam site in a questionable directory.
3. Low quality basic content
The main content is defined as parts of the web page that directly help to achieve the goal.
For example, this could be the body text in an article, YouTube video, photo, or forum post.
If the quality of the main content of the page is low, it means that it will not achieve its goals well and will be considered low quality.
4. Misleading titles
Google really doesn’t like misleading page titles.
If the title is sensational or shocking, but does not match the content – the page is rated as low quality.
Bold headlines can lead to social media traffic, but they are definitely bad for SEOs, as Google does not want to show such content to users.
It’s a good idea to make your headlines interesting, but they should adequately describe the content without exaggerating.
5. Not enough basic content
If a page does not have enough basic content to meet the goals – then this page can be defined as low quality.
An example is an encyclopedic article about the Second World War. If the content is only a few paragraphs – then it hardly describes things well enough and does not meet the goals of the page for such a complex and extensive topic.
6. Distracting advertisements
Google makes it clear that ads are not necessarily problematic.
In fact, they acknowledge that they are a necessary part of the network because they fund the production of so much free content.
However, if the ads are disruptive and distract users from consuming the main content, this may result in a low page rank.
7. Ads that push the main content down
An example of distracting ads is a page with a large ad under the headline that pushes the main content down.
It is important to be especially careful with ads that are “above the fold” – ie. whether they are immediately visible on the screen without the user having to scroll down.
When a user opens your page, they don’t have to scroll down to get to the main content. It should be visible immediately.
Ads and widgets that push it down are bad for the user experience and are not found on high quality sites.
8. Intrusive pop-ups
If you have pop-ups that prevent you from using the main content, this may be a reason to rate your page as low quality.
Google says that a single window that closes easily is not “terribly distracting”, but can lead to an unpleasant user experience.
9. Shocking ads or replacement content
If you have ads or substitute content on the page that is sexual, grotesque, shocking or disturbing – this is enough to rate the page as low quality.
Keep in mind that this applies to both the text and the images in the ad.
10. Relatively negative reputation
If the site or content creator has a bad reputation – this is enough to give a low rating on the quality of the page.
This is especially true for YMYL (Your Money, Your Life) sites, which are sites that can affect the health, finances, happiness or safety of the user.
Google encourages quality reviewers to do a detailed reputation survey.
Of course, they note that it is normal to find negative ratings for a business or individual who has a relatively good reputation.
11. Low score on BBB site
When it comes to reputation research, Google often mentions the BBB (Better Business Bureau) site – but it’s only for North America.
They say that if a site or business has a low BBB rating, that’s enough to get the site a bad reputation.
If there is no information about the site in BBB, there is no reason to worry. And this does not apply to all businesses and all sites.
12. Bad reputation in Wikipedia
This is especially true for large sites and brands, but bad mentions on Wikipedia can cause a bad reputation.
For example, Wikipedia often talks about contradictions or problems between businesses and individuals.
13. Negative information in well-known news sites
It can be seen as evidence of a bad reputation if a credible news site says bad things about your business.
Try searching for your business name and author names on your Google site.
If a credible news site has written something about them – the chances of finding it in the first pages of results are very high.
14. Missing information about content creators
Unless there is a good reason to remain anonymous, Google wants to see clear information about who created the main content.
You must display the names of the authors below the title of the page. Names should be linked to the author’s page, where visitors can read more about the content creator and whether they are credible.
15. Missing information about the site
It is important to have clear information about which individual or organization is responsible for the site as a whole.
This means that you should have a “About Us” page that explains well who owns the site and who is responsible for it.
Lack of information on the site or content creators can lead to low or low quality scores, especially when topics require a high level of knowledge and trust.
16. Missing contact information
It is critical that you have contact information and that it is easy to find on the site.
This is especially true for YMYL pages and others that require a lot of trust, similar to sites that process payments.
17. Missing customer service information
Sites that sell products or services should have easily accessible customer service information.
18. Grammatical and spelling mistakes
In some of its examples of low quality pages, Google emphasizes that there are many spelling, grammar and punctuation errors (along with other problems).
If you have many of these errors, you need to correct them.
19. Lack of specific information
A sign of poor quality is when a page tries to cover an important topic with only obvious information.
Google gives an example with a low quality page for the adoption of children from Iraq. The page contains obvious tips such as choosing an adoption agency, without specific information about adoption in Iraq.
20. Lack of citation of sources
If you write about scientific topics, such as health and nutrition, you should cite authoritative scientific sources.
21. Lack of expertise
When it comes to sensitive topics that require expert knowledge – Google prefers to display content that is created or evaluated by reputable experts.
For example, an article about a serious illness should be written by a medical professional, such as a doctor. An article on legal advice must be written by a law graduate.
The evaluation (review) of such content by a certified expert can sometimes be sufficient, even if the author of the content does not have the necessary education.
22. Recipe pages with no ratings or comments
Google gives as an example a low-quality recipe page, which does not contain important information about how it is prepared. They also emphasize the lack of ratings or comments, which is expected to be on such a page.
The lack of these features makes it difficult for the user to understand whether the recipe is good or not.
23. Question and answer page with very bad answers
It is bad if the question and answer page has a lot of useless answers that do not answer the published question.
The purpose of such pages is to answer questions. If there is only a question, but no answers or only useless answers – this page is seen as poor quality.
It’s also bad when this type of site has ads that mix with the content and it’s hard to tell the difference from the actual answers.
24. Copied main content
Google doesn’t like pages where the main content is copied from another source without adding original content to it.
This type of page receives the lowest quality score, even if the page has given credit to the source.
This does not include content that is properly syndicated by credible sources such as Reuters.
Keep in mind that this does not mean for sure that re-published content will harm your site. But rather it indicates that Google will show the original source in the search results.
25. Automatically generated main content
The lowest rating is given for pages whose content is apparently generated automatically, without manual curation or editing.
This includes pages where all content is retrieved via APIs or RSS feeds.
26. Content is obstructed or inaccessible
If the user is unable to access the main content due to ads, screensavers or pop-ups, then the page receives the lowest Quality Score.
This includes headers that redirect the visitor to another page, as well as ads that cover the main content when you scroll.
Pages with broken functionality that make it difficult or impossible to consume the content also receive this rating.
27. Abandoned, hacked or spam pages
Google does not want to show abandoned sites that fail to serve their purpose because they were not maintained.
This includes sites with outdated codes that do not work on new browsers.
They also do not want to display hacked sites, spam sites and the like that have been modified without permission from the site owner.
It is important to follow the old forums and comments for the accumulation of spam.
28. Pages that encourage harm
Pages that encourage or incite violence against oneself or others, including mental, emotional, and physical violence, have the “lowest” quality.
29. Malicious pages
Google really hates pages that have harmful content, such as scams, phishing sites, and sites that spread viruses.
Quality reviewers are instructed to give the lowest rating if they suspect that the site is malicious, even if they do not take all the steps necessary to confirm the suspicion.
30. Inaccurate content
Google wants to provide results that are factual and accurate.
Content that is inaccurate (such as fake news, for example) will receive the lowest quality score.
31. Contradiction with a well-established consensus
If you are writing about important YMYL topics such as health and contradict a well-established consensus among experts, this may be enough to get a low score.
Google encourages quality evaluators to review credible sources to verify established consensus.
32. Conspiracy theories
Sites and pages that promote debunked or unsubstantiated conspiracy theories are considered to be of the lowest quality.
33. Fraudulent purpose of the page
Fraudulent pages are defined as those that aim to deceive the user or mislead search engines in some way. They are considered to be of the lowest quality.
This includes sites that impersonate other sites or individuals, or provide misinformation about who owns the site and what its purpose is.
34. Fraudulent design
Sites with deceptive designs that are intentionally intended to mislead the user into performing any action that will benefit the owner are rated as having the lowest quality.
This includes pages that disguise ads in the main content, or have ads that look like navigation links.
If the user finds it difficult to distinguish the ad from the content, this is considered highly fraudulent.
35. Basic content crowded with keywords
Google doesn’t like text that is crowded with keywords.
Never add keywords to content for SEO purposes only, they should fit naturally into the content. The text should be written for users, not search engines.
36. Asking for sensitive personal information
One example is that a site that is considered fraudulent is one in which the online order completion page requires data such as an ID number, bank account information, and the like.
If the main content of the page seems nonsense, it receives the lowest quality score.
38. Fraudulent characteristics
Google doesn’t like fraudulent ad features, such as fake friendship invitations, fake download buttons, or fake price messages.
If you use these on your site, you certainly can’t expect much search engine traffic.
39. Lack of basic content
Pages that do not have basic content are rated as low quality for obvious reasons.
If you have many such pages on your site, you can add content to them, delete them, or remove them from Google’s indexes with the noindex meta tag.
40. Error pages without sufficient information
Error message pages (such as 404 pages) that do not provide any information to the user about what happened are rated as low quality.
Interestingly, custom 404 pages can be considered high quality pages because they serve their purpose well.
An example of such a page is one that explains to the user what happened and how to find the content they are looking for.
Google’s Quality Score Guide provides a lot of useful information. You can do it view and download here.
Especially if the SEO is an important part of your daily life – it’s good to have it on your desktop.
In this guide you will find a lot of useful information about what Google finds low and high quality and everything in between.
Avoiding low quality and looking for high quality will be very useful for your site traffic.