What On-page Signals Can Google Use to Detect High Quality Content?

Google’s Panda algorithms seem to be catching up faster then ever when it comes to sourcing good content.

I know a lot of SEOs will cry “Bullshit!” after reading this (especially in markets where there’s nothing but spam ranking), but I swear I’m seeing more authority websites and higher quality pages with certain characteristics ranking better in the search results.

List of Signals Google can use to Evaluate the Quality of your Website’s Content and Pages

It’s not that I think Google is able to read whether your content is compelling or derisory.  Instead, I think Google is able to collect a number of signals for your articles and determine a quality score for them.

Examples of on-page signals Google can use to determine the quality of your content (starting from the top of the page) could include:

  • Uniqueness of Page Title(s) and quality of HTML formatting
  • Freshness of Content and Date Published – Was this article written recently or has it been updated at all?  It’s very clear that Google is favoring recently published articles now.
  • Who is the author of the article?  Does the author have many high quality articles to his pen name or is it just a guest post?
  • Does this article have any social signals?  I’m positive that Search Engines can still see the number of socials shares an article has through the social icons.
  • Does this article include external links to authority resources? – This shows extensive research has been done for the article.
  • Does the article have unique formatting?  – This includes bold, italics, quotes, paragraph structure, HTML markup etc.  Think about it, if you’re quoting an industry professional in an article then you’re bound to be using certain formatting.
  • Responsive Design
  • Content Length
  • Does the article contain images or videos?  Are the images unique?
  • Does the page have complex coding, such as dynamic tables and menus?
  • Google Authorship?
  • Has anyone linked to this article?  - Articles with a continuous stream of backlinks are likely to be up to date and relevant to the user’s query.
  • Internal linking?
  • Are there any comments on this article?  One of the most common features of high quality content (especially on news sites) is a great deal of comments from users.  Think about any popular article on the Guardian, Search Engine Land or Tech Crunch for example.
  • Does the Article have Organic User Ratings or Markup?


Overall, these are a great selection of on-page signals that Google could be using to assess and score content quality.

Even though some of these signals might not be practical for every single site or page, I think they are pretty good quality signals overall for websites with hundreds or thousands of pages.  This doesn’t even take into account the other information that Google has about a particular webpage, such as the CTR%, dwell time and bounce rates.

A lot of this has also made rethink about last October’s EMD update.  It’s completely changed my attitude of how I view “quality”.  For example, I don’t think it’s enough to just write good content and expect it to rank anymore.  If you write 100 “good” articles for example, but they don’t receive any backlinks, comments or social shares, then that tells Google that your site isn’t very good.  In fact, it probably gives Google more “proof” that you site isn’t that good then a small 20-page EMD site.

Nowadays, I think if you want to prove to Google that you’re a high quality site then you need to tick the signals above.  You need to spend time producing compelling content that has the ability to get followers, comments, social shares and link-backs.  SEO is becoming less about backlinks and more about on-page quality scores across your site.

Adam Grunwerg

Mr grunwerg has written 22 post in this blog.

Adam Grunwerg is the founder of Searchable.co.uk and has numerous years of experience in SEO, inbound marketing developing brands online. He has also previously written for the Guardian, SearchEngineJournal and AffiliateFYI.com.

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  • Laura Wolf

    I have recently discovered that authorship has several advantages. That integrated with Google Plus is a gold mine, provided that you are still creating quality content. Social media shares are also important and indicate the quality of content.

  • http://www.utargeting.co.uk/ Piperis F

    Authorship is definitely growing in importance, but it is also increasingly important not to just have lots of unimportant links but fewer high quality links. The more active you can be across your social media, blog and website will also indicate to Google that you are a serious and active business – which will immediately make you and the content you write look more favourable to Google.

  • http://www.webdesignreview.co.uk haris awais

    Panda is very ruthless in it’s approach , you have made very good points regarding panda, one should have to optimize it’s site on page the way as mentioned above to avoid panda hits.Seo has changed completely after panda arrival and many people moved to content marketing in order to gain strong organic rankings

    • jack hill

      yes,content marketing and unique backlinks both are important for website to rank ,links act as signals while content is the only thing use to build engagement with the users

  • Harira Ijaz

    engaging traffic with the least bounce rate is a measure which search engine take into account for ranking a website

  • Lisa Anderson

    I have recently learnt quality content is not the same as quantity content and certain people often make this mistake. It is far better to have very small custom content than lots of content that everybody else maybe using. Web design teaches us many things about SEO!

  • uzma ijaz

    google use the following major traits to identify the quality of content

    freshness and nonduplicity

    social shares and user’s engagements

    low bounce rates

    optimum keyword density

    not overoptimized

  • Sally Marie

    Quality content is a must, it certainly has a better affect on a website!

  • Jason Marnie

    The website is clealy the most important part of a business in this day and age one mistake on a website can give the business a bad name.