Federal .gov websites will not rank if they don’t have the expertise.
Hello! And thanks for listening to SEO tips today.
I have the pleasure of working with high domain authority websites, but that doesn’t mean that they can rank for just anything.
I was reminded of this when I saw Google’s recent blog post about its human rater program.
Google launched a post about their over 10,000 real people — search quality raters that evaluate their search results’ quality.
This blurb about how rating works is worth reading:
They highlighted that they evaluate the subject matter expertise, per subject, per author.
“To understand if the author has subject matter expertise, a rater would do some online research to see if the author has cooking credentials, has been profiled or referenced on other food websites, or has produced other great content that has garnered positive reviews or ratings on recipe sites.”
And this is part of the reason why when I looked for the specific recipes published by the USDA Choose My Plate program (the My Kitchen section), none of them are ranking.
Many of the recipes are written by the state Cooperative Extension Service, and while (as a former 4-Her), I’m SUPER fond of the Cooperative Extension service (as it directly supports the 4-H program), they can’t compete with Alton Brown’s expertise as a chef. And their recipes don’t have a bio of the person at the state Cooperative Extension service who wrote the recipe –just in case they are an expert.
And don’t get me started with the fact that the recipe pages don’t use recipe schema.org markup, which is basically a requirement for raking in recipe search. Google displays schema marked up recipes at the top with a “view more button” allowing you to push the rest down the page as you perpetually see more recipes that have the recipe markup in place.
Implementing recipe schema has been shown in case studies to increase the organic traffic to sites. Google published a case study of how Rakuten’s home chef recipe service increased its results though implementing schema.org starting in 2014. Rakuten reported that traffic to recipe pages increased 2.7 times while the average session duration grew to 1.5 times longer.
Anyway, I digress, but the reality is that even though you might be an expert in one area, that doesn’t mean that you can rank for all of the tangential topics you want to without proving that your writers have the expertise to back it up, especially in Your Money or your Life topics – which includes the searcher’s happiness, including recipes.
And just in case you’re worried, while I think everyone writing copy for sites should be aware of Google’s Human Raters and the training guide that they use for their work, their feedback is not used in real-time, and that was re-iterated in Google’s post.
“Once raters have done this research, they then provide a quality rating for each page…..but it’s important to note that this rating does not directly impact how this page or site ranks in search. ….Ratings are a data point that, when taken in aggregate, helps us measure how well our systems are working to deliver great content that’s aligned with how people – across the country and the world – evaluate information”.
In the case of the USDA’s recipes, they did not consider their competition. Their competitors have polished recipe sites with high-quality photos, clear andeasy to find bios of the chefs, schema markup in place that allows for the ingredients and time to cook, and reviews potentially displayed directly in search results.
It’s proof that even a .gov with high authority can not rank for everything.
Thanks for listening.
Come back tomorrow for another SEO tip.
Listen to the previous episode: A collection of voice search updates
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