There is a new Google update to the search engine’s search quality rater guidelines that includes some new areas of focus for raters. Over 10,000 search qualifier raters are contracted with Google worldwide to evaluate its search results. These raters are given actual searches to conduct, as they are drawn from real searches that happen on Google. The quality of these result pages are then rated.
Jenneifer Slegg, who both observes and writes about these changes to the quality rater guidelines for years, has spoken at SMX Advanced on rater guidelines. She even did a deep dive this year on the guidelines. She spoke at SMX Advanced on rater guidelines, and there are a number of new notable areas Google would like raters to focus on.
“The most noticeable for content creators is that Google wants their raters to not only look at the reputation of the website itself, but also the content creators themselves,” said Slegg. “This is one area that many sites fall down on. They might have an ‘About Us’ page, but the bios of their authors are sorely lacking. It also means that those accepting contributions from those not working for the site in question need to keep an eye on the reputation of their contributors as well.
“If content is created by someone with a great reputation, it makes sense for Google to rank that content higher than from someone with a bad reputation since it is generally a better user experience for the searcher. But it means many will also need to brush up on their bios, too. It is also worth noting that this doesn’t apply just to written content, but other types of content as well, such as videos and social media.
“Google’s focus with this addition is on wanting to ensure content that is created by creators with great reputations is ranking well, especially in a world of fake news and conspiracy theories. Great for those creators with great reputations, but does mean some work for those without a great reputation or a limited one.”
It appears that Google is taking aim at more refined, subtle forms of spam that seem to be on the increase. “Google is clearly fighting the war against clickbait, and they are asking raters to rate sites as low where the title is too sensational or doesn’t match the actual content. If it is in the guidelines, Google is looking for a way for their algos to counter clickbait, either currently or in future algos.”
One of the other changesGoogle wants raters to focus on is what it calls “beneficial purpose” of content. “So many sites create content solely for Google, without the user in mind. They just want their content with ‘keyword keyword keyword’ to rank well, and hope the person converts when they get there, whether by clicking an ad or affiliate link, or perhaps going deeper into the site. But Google wants their raters to think about whether a piece of content has a beneficial purpose or not, and this is something that any site owner, content creator or SEO should think about when writing new content or auditing current content on a site.”
Google’s results can’t be altered directly by quality raters, as they only mark a particular listing as low-quality will not cause that page to be banned or lose ranking.
Rather, the data generated by quality raters is then utilized to improve Google’s search algorithms, an automated system of ranking pages. It’s possible that quality rater data might have an impact on low-quality pages that are spotted by raters, but the algorithm will also impact pages that weren’t reviewed.
Read the updated Google search quality rating guidelines here.