I was on a presentation call by Mike Moran yesterday. He’s a Distinguished IBM Engineer and co-author of “Search Engine Marketing, Inc.” (2nd. ed, 2008, IBM Press) with Bill Hunt. His 672-page book is simply the best technical book on SEO for large corporations.

Mike talked about the state of SEO. Among other topics, he went into details about “Google Quality Raters” (GQR).

Very few people know that Google has 10,000 contractors who manually review pages and vote them up or down. Yes, they do this by hand. If they don’t like your page, they downrank it and it goes to page 54. Nobody looks at that. See? They didn’t ban it, they just downranked it.

Google has been manually reviewing and ranking pages for at least six years. I have Google’s QR team manuals from different years (it’s updated every summer). By comparing these, you can see how they evolve and improve their process. A GQR person gave me access to the online tool and I spent several hours reviewing and ranking pages until I fully understood the process.

GQR is a major secret at Google. They won’t talk about it. I’ve talked with very senior persons at Google and they had no idea that Google was doing this. Most SEO companies, incl. the technical leaders at large SEO companies, don’t know about this (I’ve asked them.) There is practically no public information about this, asides from a few web pages here and there which don’t go into details, although this is perhaps the most important process at Google.

How do they evaluate your webpage? GQRs use a list of criteria. NONE of the criteria are “technical SEO”, i.e., meta-tags, keywords, links, etc. This means all of the main activities used by most SEO companies are irrelevant to GQR.

GQR looks at the quality of your content. The manuals are technical documents, about a hundred pages, and densely-written, so I can’t summarize it in this blog posting (the key points are in my book Search Engine Marketing, published by McGraw-Hill).

Traditional SEO is irrelevant. It won’t make any difference in ranking. That’s spelled out clearly in Google’s manual for their Quality Raters. The only thing that traditional technical SEO can do is to ensure that your webpage will be in the index, but you can easily do that with a tweet that includes a link to your page.

But the SEO industry won’t say this because they make lots of money.

What to do? Write really good content. I mean, Really Good Content. Not blah-blah stuff. Not “pretty good stuff.” Write The Best Article in the World on that topic. Hire the leading authors. Hire world-class experts. Once you’ve written it, get it distributed by the top influencers and your advocates. Yes, it’s lots of work, it’ll be expensive, and that’s what makes it the leading article. Google’s team of 10,000 Quality Raters will find your article and move it to the top.

There’s more details, of course, but that’s the main point.

How to distribute your content? That’s in my new book: The Big Book of Content Marketing.