Google as the arbiter of good taste

When I was working at Forrester Research, each publication had a designated content editor whom we jokingly referred to as “the ultimate arbiter of good taste“: he or she had the final word on what deserved publishing and what did not.

I was reminded of this by Google’s “More guidance on building high-quality sites” published on 6 May 2011 by Amit Singhal, head of search quality, on Google Webmaster Central Blog.

Google Webmaster Central BlogIn an attempt to quiet anxieties caused by Panda, its new anti-spam search result algorithm, Google’s search team (now part of the “knowledge” team) issued recommendations in form of 24 questions designed to help Webmasters test the quality, hence potential ranking, of their online publications.

Here are a few sample questions:

• Would you trust the information presented in this article?
• Is this article written by an expert or enthusiast who knows the topic well, or is it more shallow in nature?
• Are the topics driven by genuine interests of readers of the site, or does the site generate content by attempting to guess what might rank well in search engines?
• Does the article provide original content or information, original reporting, original research, or original analysis?
• How much quality control is done on content?
• Does the article describe both sides of a story?

No doubt that a site that meets all 24 criteria is an informative, creative, authoritative, carefully crafted site.

It’s hard to imagine how Google could objectively and meaningfully check which sites meet these criteria and, hence, deserve a good index rank. But Google has no other choice if it wants to stop the surge of spam sites that plague the Web with meaningless, purely indexation-driven content.

Thus, one could say that Google is the de facto arbiter of good taste online.

One comment

  1. Per-BKWine says:

    Interesting! But it comes down to one very simple thing, again and again: good quality contents. And user friendly sites!

    We’re doing a perhaps interesting experiment in ranking. Well, not really experiment, since it is vital live info. We used to have travel (one of our business activities) info buried in pages a few steps down on our “old” site Since the site was there since a long time we still had very good ranking (in Swedish – not in English, but that was a different problem). Now we have moved all our travel info to separate urls: and Although the new site(s) are much more focused and user-friendly than the old they have poor rankings compared to the old one (often in 1st spot for relevant search terms). Because they’ve only been around for some 3 months. But they are climbing up fairly rapidly. The Swedish site is already on the first page of Google SERPs (but still a bit down) and I hope the English one will move up soon too. Much thanks to good contents and user-friendliness.

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