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How to use the Google Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines to Improve SEO and Traffic

The “Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines” is a training manual created by Google for their human manual rankers to evaluate and assign a “Page Quality Rating” to websites based on specific guidelines that rate the quality of a website’s content and the strength of their trust signals. 

These guidelines use the E-A-T framework to identify, verify and measure a website’s Expertise, Authority, and Trust, in order to give it a quality score, which Google then uses to validate, measure, and adjust the accuracy of its search engine algorithms.

If a website is ranked too high or too low by the algorithm based on what the human rankers find, the site can be manually adjusted up or down in the search results.  

The following document uses copy taken word-for-word directly from Google's “Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines” manual.  

The blue highlighted text is particularly on-point with the value Shopper Approved offers as part of our trust-building and SEO solution that is aligned to the Google quality guidelines in order to help our clients improve their trust signals and their Google rating. 

Google Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines 

2.6 Reputation of the Website or Creator of the Main Content 

“A website's reputation is based on the experience of real users, as well as the opinion of people who are experts in the topic of the website. Keep in mind that websites often represent real companies, organizations, and other entities. Therefore, reputation research applies to both the website and the actual company, organization, or entity that the website is representing. 

When the website says one thing about itself, but reputable external sources disagree with what the website says, trust the external sources.” 

As an official Google Reviews Partner, Shopper Approved is a trusted external source for verified customer reviews. 

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2.6.1 Research on the Reputation of the Website or Creator of the Main Content 

“Use reputation research to find out what real users, as well as experts, think about a website. Look for reviews, references, recommendations by experts, news articles, and other credible information created/written by individuals about the website. 

Stores frequently have user ratings, which can help you understand a store’s reputation 

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based on the reports of people who actually shop there. We consider a large number of positive user reviews as evidence of positive reputation.”

Shopper Approved collects up to 10X more verified customer reviews than any other review platform, giving you more reviews, in more places, faster. 

“Reputation research is necessary for all websites you encounter. Do not just assume websites you personally use have a good reputation. Please do research! You might be surprised at what you find.” 

Having more reviews in more places across the web makes your positive reputation easy to find and stand out. Shopper Approved uses a proprietary review distribution tool called Survey Destinations, which allows you to collect and send verified customer reviews to a variety of 3rd party, open review platforms, such as Consumer Affairs, BBB, Trust Pilot, Reseller Ratings, Site Jabber, and more—giving you more reviews, in more places. 

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2.6.3 Customer Reviews of Stores/Businesses

“Customer reviews can be helpful for assessing the reputation of a store or business. However, you should interpret these reviews with care, particularly if there are only a few. Be skeptical of both positive and negative user reviews. Anyone can write them, including the creator of the website or someone the store or business hires for this purpose. See here for a New York Times article on fake reviews and here for a Guardian article on fake reviews.” 

Shopper Approved collects only verified customer reviews to help build your reputation. 

“When interpreting customer reviews, try to find as many as possible. Any store or website can get a few negative reviews. This is completely normal and expected. Large stores and companies have thousands of reviews and most receive some negative ones.” 

Shopper Approved uses a proprietary review distribution tool called Survey Destinations, which allows you to collect and send verified customer reviews to a variety of 3rd party, open review platforms, such as Trust Pilot, Reseller Ratings, Site Jabber, and more—giving you more reviews, in more places. 

And because we collect up to 10X more verified customer reviews than any other review platform, you will have more reviews, faster. Even more, reviews than you would collect as a direct customer of Trust Pilot. 

2.6.4 How to Search for Reputation Information 

“When searching for reputation information, try to find sources that were not written or created by the website, the company itself, or the individual. For example, IBM might have official Facebook or Twitter pages that it closely maintains, which would not be considered independent sources of reputation information about the company. See here for a Wikipedia article on identifying and using independent sources. 

Look for articles, reviews, forum posts, discussions, etc. written by people about the website. For businesses, there are many sources of reputation information and reviews. Here are some examples: Yelp, Better Business Bureau (a nonprofit organization that focuses on the trustworthiness of businesses and charities), Amazon, and Google Shopping. You can try searching on specific sites to find reviews. For example, you can try [ibm site:bbb.org] or [“ibm.com” site:bbb.org].“

As an official Google Reviews Partner, Shopper Approved is an independent,  trusted external source for verified customer reviews. 

And our Survey Destinations tool can send verified customer reviews to the BBB, giving you a positive reputation with lots of reviews. And our Product Reviews give you stars and ratings on Google Shopping, Product Listing Ads, and more.  

4.5 A High Level of Expertise/Authoritativeness/Trustworthiness (E-A-T)

“High-quality pages and websites need enough expertise to be authoritative and trustworthy on their topic. Remember that there are “expert” websites of all types, even gossip websites, fashion websites, humor websites, forums, Q&A pages, etc. In fact, some types of information are found almost exclusively on forums and discussions, where a community of experts can provide valuable perspectives on specific topics.”

The above section 4.5 is focused on the value of User-Generated Content by way of Forums and Q&A as sources of truth to establish a website’s Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness. 

Both ratings and reviews and Q&A serve as a forum of sorts for collecting authentic UGC, and they both serve as a source of truth when establishing brand authority and trust. 

As an official Google Review Partner, Shopper Approved offers Seller, Product, and Video Ratings and Reviews from Verified Customers (the most trustworthy), and a search-optimized Q&A tool to help establish your website as the topical expert and trusted source across the web.

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6.5 Mixed or Mildly Negative Reputation of the Website or Creator of the Main Content 

“Extensive reputation research is required for all PQ (Page Quality) rating tasks unless you have previously researched the reputation of the website. 

Try to find as many reviews and ratings as possible, and read the details of negative reviews and low ratings before inferring that the business overall has a negative reputation. A few negative customer service reviews are typical for businesses such as restaurants. 

Pay attention when there is evidence of mixed or mildly negative—though not malicious or financially fraudulent—reputation. The Low rating should be used if the website or the creator of the MC has a mildly negative reputation.”

Shopper Approved has a unique review collection process that occurs immediately after completing a purchase, which allows you to generate up to 10X more verified customer reviews than any other review platform. Giving you will more reviews, faster. 

And because we also have a proprietary review distribution tool called Survey Destinations, you can send verified customer reviews to a variety of 3rd party, open review platforms of your choice, giving you more reviews, in more places. 

SpyFu Endorses E-A-T and the Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines as an SEO Strategy

Spyfu.com published an article on 7/20/21 called “E-A-T: The Google Quality Rubric to Follow for Better Rankings”

The article covers seven areas that improve your search rankings using Google E-A-T as an SEO framework within the Google “Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines”, and here is what they said about reviews and website security to improve your SEO:

Increase Positive Reviews

Positive reviews on third-party websites signal to readers and Google that you’re a trusted authority in your industry. For example, if you’re looking for a plumber in your area, you’ll definitely check reviews of their business before you hire them. Consistent good reviews can help you trust your home and money to this contractor.

Just like we check ratings, Google’s QRs are instructed to look at a company’s reviews on sites like Google, Yelp, and the Better Business Bureau when evaluating the E-A-T of a specific website. The best thing you can do is encourage positive reviews and respond to and remedy negative reviews to keep those trust signals flowing in.

Invest in Security

Security is a big deal for Google. In 2021, they even made changes to the Search Console to make it easier for websites to adopt HTTPS and find security issues within their website. In Google’s view, secure sites are more trustworthy.

To make your website secure, start by making sure your website has its SSL certificate. You should also look into security standards for your industry. Your goal with this step is to create the most trustworthy website possible — both Google and your website visitors will reward you for it.

Shopper Approved offers a suite of tools to collect Seller, Product, and Video Reviews, as well as a comprehensive website security tool and security seal, called Trust Guard, which has been independently tested and proven to increase conversion rates. 

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If you would like to learn more about how Shopper Approved can improve your website’s online trust, ranking, traffic, conversions, and security,
please schedule a 30-minute demo here. 

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Duane “DJ” Sprague is CMO of Shopper Approved, and has been in the marketing, advertising and public relations fields for over 30 years, and has served on both the client and the agency side. He holds a Master’s Degree in Integrated Marketing Communication, has contributed to several books and university course packs, and has received the 1st Place Gold Award in a global integrated marketing competition.

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