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Is Website Quality Score a Google Ranking Factor?

Does website quality score affect your rankings?In this article, we'll explore the concept of Google's Organic Quality Score - is it true?

Does Google use a quality score similar to the one in Google Ads as part of its organic search ranking algorithm?

This has been debated over the years, and there are even articles telling you how to optimize it.

But is there actually an organic quality score?Will it affect your rankings?

Let's explore some resources and discussions about the whole Google Organic Quality Score concept to see if we can get the truth.

Disclaimer: Site Quality Score is a ranking factor

This topic can cause some confusion as there are several things at play here.

What we know:

Google Ads uses Quality Score.

This is a number 1-10 that Google assigns to PPC ads, based on three factors:

  1. Expected click-through rate (CTR):The likelihood that your ad will be clicked when it is displayed.
  2. Ad relevance: How well your ad matches the intent behind a user's search.
  3. Landing page experience: The relevance and usefulness of the landing page to users who click on the ad.

So when you hear that Google uses Quality Scores to evaluate websites, you might think it's the Quality Scores used by Google Ads.

No.

Google does not use its Google Ads Quality Score in organic rankings.

So the question is:

Does Google use quality scores to rate entire websites numerically (maybe between 1-10, 0-100, or some other value)?

We know that Google considers EAT (Expertise, Authority, and Trust) to be an important guiding concept for every website that publishes content.

So if Google thinks it's important to see the E-A-T of an individual content creator, wouldn't it be equally important for the site that publishes that content?

If so, can you quantify it with PageRank-style scores?

Think of it this way: I'm going to publish an article.

Is it more likely to rank in search engine journals vs [insert random blog name here no one has heard of]?

Yes, this is basically the much-debated concept of domain authority (not to be confused with Domain Authority, Moz Metrics, we debunk it in another chapter of this guide) - some domains have inherent SEO advantages over others.

An organic quality score like this means that even if a page lacks other quality signals, it can still enjoy the ranking advantage of a site's quality score.

Does Search Engine Magazine, New York Times or Wikipedia (or any other major site you can think of) have an automatic ranking advantage over all/most of their competitors?

Could this be due to some site-wide organic quality score that Google assigns to them?

Evidence of Website Quality Score as a Ranking Factor

In 2011, Google's Michael Wyszomierski provided feedback on Google's latest algorithm changes.This update is Google Panda, and it largely affects sites with low-quality content.He said, in part:

"...It’s important for webmasters to know that low-quality content on parts of a website can affect a site’s overall ranking.Therefore, if you believe that you have been affected by this change, you should evaluate all content on your site and do your best to improve the overall quality of pages on your domain.

Removing low-quality pages or moving them to other domains may help you rank for higher-quality content.

Does this suggest that Google can use a quality score consisting of some collection of signals to detect low quality sites?

Many SEO experts, including Jeff Ferguson, agree that Google ranks pages, not websites..

While this is theoretically true, Wyszomierski's statement raises the big question of how low-quality content on parts of a site can affect the ranking ability of content on a site as a whole.

Did we get this answer back in 2012 when Google patented Website Quality Score?

The patent includes the following:

"This specification describes how the system determines the score of a website, for example, a website or other collection of data resources, as seen by search engines, which represents a measure of the quality of the website.

Scores are determined based on the number of behaviors that indicate users find and prefer specific sites and resources found in specific sites.

The site quality score for a particular site can be determined by calculating the ratio of the numerator, which represents the ratio of user interest in the site (reflected in user queries directed to the site) to the denominator (representing user interest in the resources found on the site) , in response to various queries.

A site's site quality score can be used as a signal to rank resources, or to rank search results that identify resources, relative to resources found on another site.

As always, just because Google has a patent on something doesn't provide clear evidence that it's being used in search algorithms.

Beyond that, we speculate on 2017, when Moz released a Whiteboard Friday with an organic quality score.

They said at the beginning of their speech:

“While there is no hard evidence that it exists, organic quality score is a concept that many SEOs have been thinking about for years.

In 2020, Seer Interactive released a guide on how to optimize your website for organic search using components of Google's Quality Score.

This guide does not assume Quality Score is a ranking factor.

Instead, they hope to give PPC practitioners a new perspective on optimizing content for organic search.

Google Quality Score as a Ranking Factor: Our Verdict

So far, Google has neither confirmed nor denied that organic site quality score is a ranking factor.

The website Quality Score patent filed in 2012 was at best circumstantial evidence that Google could use Quality Score as a ranking factor (or at least considered doing so, around that time).

This makes sense.

A website should have a basic level of authority (even a topic relevance score) that it can pass to new pages based on its link profile (internal and inbound).

So the question remains: is there a domain/site quality score that can be used as a benchmark for new pages?

Wyszomierski's comment is an interesting hint that something of this nature might play a role in Google's algorithm.

Is it reasonable to assume that a site can be helped organically by consistently posting high-quality content if the site is likely to be harmed by low-quality content??

While we've ruled out the idea of ​​Google using Google Ads Quality Score for rankings, the principles behind it - especially around intent, relevance, and usefulness - can easily be applied to organic search.

Just like understanding E-A-T and Search Quality Rating Guidelines can help guide your SEO.

As of this writing, we cannot call organic quality score a clear Google ranking factor without direct confirmation.

But it is possible.

Extended reading:

User Search History as a Google Ranking Factor: What You Need to Know

Are title tags a Google ranking factor?

Is TF-IDF a Google ranking factor?

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