There’s an important lesson in life about critical thinking and avoiding over-interpreting broad and subjective guidelines. People all too often hyperfocus on parts of documents or ideas and take literal actions where the directions are very vague. This happens in business, relationships, life but mostly in Religion and Philosophy. And in all cases of “fundamentalism” are people who’ve added context to short texts to create vastly bigger and more prescriptive dogma.
Over the past month, its safe to say that many webmasters and many SEOs alike are running around like headless chickens about two things: Google EAT and HCU. Even though both these documents are very benign, it has stopped people from reading between the lines and creating/inventing tons of absolute nonsense that goes further than an over-read its just pure misinformation. As it usually is with Google Core Updates – some sites have been hit by updates designed to prevent them from circumventing the system. But of course, those who got it, presumably didn’t get hit in previous updates and now instead of seeing it as their turn, they feel as if Google has upended the universe.
And when you see the universe they’ve invented, it becomes obvious why.
What are Google EAT and HCU?
Google crawls vast amounts of information. People have no idea, no way to see, or envisage the amount of human-produced content. Or, the amount of content we can product with computing power. Content is just words in a document. A blog. An article. A video. A sheet. With many uses – many without even thinking about how or why Google will follow it.
Good Content, EAT, and Subjective goals
Good is subjective – Google wants you to write good content. You cannot write good content for everyone, there isn’t a universal good. There cannot be one and any attempt to define one would also fit the standard definition of fascism. But people can’t get over it. In their minds, good is a minimum base that can be applied to everyone. They just haven’t stopped thinking that their good and their requirements do meet everyone else’s.
When Google’s “good” isn’t good enough?
The problem though, is that if you have a very subjective North Star, it’s very upsetting when you see people who don’t share the same standards. And so, the idea that good content could rank, even though nobody can describe a content appreciation engine (which is what you’d need to try to begin grading content before quickly realizing you cannot) – they also assume their content is good.
Now imagine the chaos that ensues when they see content they don’t like above them. Firstly, anyone who has the audacity to rank over another SEO is bad and by association is guilty of producing bad content. Bad content, unlike good content, is created by spammers. People who want to make money. Good SEOs want to work, and not make money (?) because they thats bad. But – luckily – they can tell the difference between good and bad and the world is saved.
There is no universal, global measurement of good
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Imagine a world of one good – one sport, one TV channel, one writer, one band.. No thanks!
So – what’s going on?
In October, a massive core update was rolled out and assertions made by SEOs about how Google assesses (vs appraises) are being tested. Some of the troubling assertions are that people believe that Google can assess content and grade it according to some kind of objective scale. SEOs and Copywriters have issued edicts for years telling people that Google is effectively a content police force and that it investigates, certifies, approves, fact checks, monitors, reads, appreciates, and understands content even though it has absolutely no real-life manifest way of doing so
….and so – unverified hypotheses with thin examples were accepted and people began building SEO strategies within imaginary borders. And after they got hit – they started to see who didn’t – and it seems that those people weren’t playing by the same rules that these SEOs had invented. And that’s not going down too well.
But there’s so much bad content ranking?
Like anyone who wants us to believe a point by appealing to authority, this is problematic for good content SEO. Because there’s so much bad content that ranks. And so it seems Google is now just evil. The problem is that bad content can be any content that you don’t like or wouldn’t read. There are millions of useless reasons why content wouldn’t be “good” to person A but could be to Person B. It takes a special kind of cognitive dissonance to believe that Google has indexed trillions of pages and that they are all good, all written by experts with careers in writing.
Google’s imaginary crew of World Records Fact Checkers
Could you imagine every blog from food, to travel, from every country, county, and city? Verifying prices, ingredients, restaurants, reviews, authors, dates of birth, travel documents – the list is endless that would need to be verified but this reality is no anchor for this group of SEOs who can plow ahead without tying off this logical snafu that under the whole hypothesis: There is just so much content that ISN’T good and ISN’T Accurate hiding in plain sight.
A great example – Religion and Politics
If you think that quality is objective, then pause for a minute. In religion and politics, a lot of things become binary very quickly. You either believe in a god or you don’t. If you’re not sure, then you don’t believe it. You either believe a god created the world or you believe in evolution. Even if you’re not sure, then you definitely don’t believe in creationism.
But Creationism stories live inside Google alongside the innumerous scientific organizations whose vast investment in just man hours in research, analysis, study, and peer review leaves the superstitious documents as clear obvious frauds. But Google, with its vast army of imaginary quality checkers, hasn’t decided to remove it. And for the record, the reverse is true. People who believe in creationism abhor science and evolution. But there it all is.
What total fcuking nonsense.
But What does Google say about EAT and HCU?
Well, fortunately – Google has written extensively about this and has included very precise instructions to humans for humans, presumably by humans.
Its really clear – but this line just isn’t prescriptive enough – I guess – because it’s just so — clear and unalarming?
If a document was to be read to be prescriptive, without ambiguity, and wanted to send a clear message, surely it cannot contradict that clear message with a clear contradiction. And so, if you take a clear direction that is to be unambiguous and without confusion, then you cannot make it open to interpretation and then that statement cannot conflict with other directoins given.
Google’s Clear E-E-A-T Instructions and document
So if your statement says that content that violates EAT cannot rank or be first – then you are simply wrong, simply by quoting the same document you got your initial logical fallacy from.
Google’s Clear Helpful Content (HCU) Instructions and document
“If you’re producing helpful content, then you don’t need to do anything; in fact this system may be good for your site, as it is designed to reward helpful content.”
Remember: Google is a search engine, not a content appreciation engine
Trying to put Google into some kind of fundamental good content-only engine space is so difficult that it requires suspension of reality AND vast quantities of arrogance. Blinkers to ignore all of the millions of ways this cannot be true. That you can reject it at face value and go to Google and find all kinds of content that has a different good to someone else.