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Google Offers a Definition of Quality Content

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In a Google SEO office-hours hangout Google’s John Mueller offered a broader definition of what content quality really means. His definition expands on what it means to have quality content and can help publishers who are experiencing issues with content quality.

In general, when the SEO industry focuses on content quality they’re often focusing on improving things related to E-A-T, expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness.

The definition of content quality that Mueller shared encompasses E-A-T and even goes beyond that.

Why Content Quality is Important

Content quality can affect a site’s rankings both positively and negatively. It can even cause Google to not trust a site and not display rich results from the website.

Over the years the SEO industry has focused on author signals, the quantity of advertising on the page, and the text of the content itself.

But what Mueller said about content quality encompasses those signals and extends even further.

Question About Quality Content and SEO

The question asked in the Google Hangout was in the context of the relative importance of technical SEO versus content quality.

Here is the question:

“I know it’s been said before that making technical improvements is less important to SEO than having quality content.”

Mueller stopped reading the question to talk about the importance of technical SEO then began addressing what quality content really means.

This is How Google Defines Quality Content

John Mueller addressed the issue of quality content to explain that it’s more than just text.

Mueller explained:

“When it comes to the quality of the content, we don’t mean like just the text of your articles.

It’s really the quality of your overall website.

And that includes everything from the layout to the design.

Like, how you have things presented on your pages, how you integrate images, how you work with speed, all of those factors they kind of come into play there.”

Google has been saying for years that images are important and published developer pages about optimizing images and how to use those properly for SEO.

Many people in the SEO industry have discounted the importance of page speed but Mueller says that page speed contributes to how Google views content quality.

Most importantly, he points out how all of it is presented on the page also has an impact on how Google views content quality.

This is a big deal because it expands on the definition of what it means to have high quality content.

Mueller continued his explanation:

“So it’s not the case that we would look at just purely the text of the article and ignore everything else around it and say, oh this is high quality text.

We really want to look at the website overall.”

Definition of Quality Content Has a Wide Scope

Mueller’s definition of quality content is far more expansive than it is commonly understood.

A search on Google or Bing using the search term, “what is quality content?” reveals many websites answering the question by saying it’s all about the text.

But apparently, according to Google, quality content means far more than just the text. It includes the images, layout, how everything is presented, page speed and other factors, some of which relates to the user experience and how information is delivered to a site visitor.

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Content Quality is More than Text: Layout, Design, Images

Watch at the 23:12 minute Mark

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Google to pay $391.5 million settlement over location tracking, state AGs say

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Google to pay $391.5 million settlement over location tracking, state AGs say

Google has agreed to pay a $391.5 million settlement to 40 states to resolve accusations that it tracked people’s locations in violation of state laws, including snooping on consumers’ whereabouts even after they told the tech behemoth to bug off.

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry said it is time for Big Tech to recognize state laws that limit data collection efforts.

“I have been ringing the alarm bell on big tech for years, and this is why,” Mr. Landry, a Republican, said in a statement Monday. “Citizens must be able to make informed decisions about what information they release to big tech.”

The attorneys general said the investigation resulted in the largest-ever multistate privacy settlement. Connecticut Attorney General William Tong, a Democrat, said Google’s penalty is a “historic win for consumers.”

“Location data is among the most sensitive and valuable personal information Google collects, and there are so many reasons why a consumer may opt out of tracking,” Mr. Tong said. “Our investigation found that Google continued to collect this personal information even after consumers told them not to. That is an unacceptable invasion of consumer privacy, and a violation of state law.”

Location tracking can help tech companies sell digital ads to marketers looking to connect with consumers within their vicinity. It’s another tool in a data-gathering toolkit that generates more than $200 billion in annual ad revenue for Google, accounting for most of the profits pouring into the coffers of its corporate parent, Alphabet, which has a market value of $1.2 trillion.

The settlement is part of a series of legal challenges to Big Tech in the U.S. and around the world, which include consumer protection and antitrust lawsuits.

Though Google, based in Mountain View, California, said it fixed the problems several years ago, the company’s critics remained skeptical. State attorneys general who also have tussled with Google have questioned whether the tech company will follow through on its commitments.

The states aren’t dialing back their scrutiny of Google’s empire.

Last month, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said he was filing a lawsuit over reports that Google unlawfully collected millions of Texans’ biometric data such as “voiceprints and records of face geometry.”

The states began investigating Google’s location tracking after The Associated Press reported in 2018 that Android devices and iPhones were storing location data despite the activation of privacy settings intended to prevent the company from following along.

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich went after the company in May 2020. The state’s lawsuit charged that the company had defrauded its users by misleading them into believing they could keep their whereabouts private by turning off location tracking in the settings of their software.

Arizona settled its case with Google for $85 million last month. By then, attorneys general in several other states and the District of Columbia had pounced with their own lawsuits seeking to hold Google accountable.

Along with the hefty penalty, the state attorneys general said, Google must not hide key information about location tracking, must give users detailed information about the types of location tracking information Google collects, and must show additional information to people when users turn location-related account settings to “off.”

States will receive differing sums from the settlement. Mr. Landry’s office said Louisiana would receive more than $12.7 million, and Mr. Tong’s office said Connecticut would collect more than $6.5 million.

The financial penalty will not cripple Google’s business. The company raked in $69 billion in revenue for the third quarter of 2022, according to reports, yielding about $13.9 billion in profit.

Google downplayed its location-tracking tools Monday and said it changed the products at issue long ago.

“Consistent with improvements we’ve made in recent years, we have settled this investigation which was based on outdated product policies that we changed years ago,” Google spokesman Jose Castaneda said in a statement.

Google product managers Marlo McGriff and David Monsees defended their company’s Search and Maps products’ usage of location information.

“Location information lets us offer you a more helpful experience when you use our products,” the two men wrote on Google’s blog. “From Google Maps’ driving directions that show you how to avoid traffic to Google Search surfacing local restaurants and letting you know how busy they are, location information helps connect experiences across Google to what’s most relevant and useful.”

The blog post touted transparency tools and auto-delete controls that Google has developed in recent years and said the private browsing Incognito mode prevents Google Maps from saving an account’s search history.

Mr. McGriff and Mr. Monsees said Google would make changes to its products as part of the settlement. The changes include simplifying the process for deleting location data, updating the method to set up an account and revamping information hubs.

“We’ll provide a new control that allows users to easily turn off their Location History and Web & App Activity settings and delete their past data in one simple flow,” Mr. McGriff and Mr. Monsees wrote. “We’ll also continue deleting Location History data for users who have not recently contributed new Location History data to their account.”

• This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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