Google has currently more than 10,000 people working as search quality raters for them whose job is to conduct actual searches, based on real searches that happen on Google. These raters then rate the quality of the webpages that appear in the top search results. The rating provided by one rater alone doesn’t affect the position of a webpage. What then is the purpose of search quality ratings? When a number of raters rate a website or page over time, the ratings influence the algorithm and low-quality pages pointed out by raters may affect the page’s ranking. That is how the data generated by these search quality raters improves Google’s algorithms and search results.
What are Google’s Search Quality Raters guidelines?
Google’s Search Quality Raters guidelines are a set of guidelines that raters need to follow to determine whether a search result they are rating is high quality or low quality. Google has made these guidelines available publicly and so everyone can see on what basis the websites and pages are being ranked. Because each person may have a different perspective when looking at a webpage they are rating, it is important for Google to set some standards so that there is a common ground. From the guidelines, the raters can learn what Google’s standards for quality are and rate the search results accordingly.
Google’s updated guidelines
Google keeps updating its page quality rating guidelines from time to time and the latest updates were released on 16th May 2019. These guidelines are important for content marketers and websites because they give an idea of what Google looks for in top ranking webpages.
The updated guidelines have added more detailed directions and content creator expertise to Google’s quality standards. They have now introduced the concept of E-A-T or Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness within “Page Quality” in some sections. This indicates how the raters will now evaluate the quality of a webpage, with more emphasis on these three factors.
Raters are also going to categorize pages as YMYL or Your Money, Your Life. Pages that fall under either of these categories will undergo more strict scrutiny than others. Usually, the pages that fall under “Your Money” are e-commerce, financial and legal websites. While medical information and pages related to user safety fall under the “Your Life” category.
The new guidelines emphasize the content creators of a website and not just on the reputation of the website alone. Websites that have content creators with good portfolios and better expertise will be rated higher than those who have less competent authors. This also means the websites that accept content from authors as contributors, who are not directly working with the website, need to be more mindful of the content they publish. And this scrutiny is applicable not just to written content but also to videos and social media. This, in a way, is Google’s attempt at ensuring that only the right information is delivered on all webpages by people who have authority on the topics. In the wake of such corrupt and untrustworthy information being spread through the internet, in the form of fake news and conspiracy theories, this is indeed a necessary action.
Google has set new guidelines for websites with interstitial pages in the “Distracting Ads/SC” section. According to these new guidelines, webpages that use these ad and interstitial pages in an intrusive manner will be rated low. The interstitial pages should not limit a user’s ability to access the main content of the webpage. The updated guideline includes interstitial pages that require an app download, say, as truly distracting and websites with such interstitial pages are to be rated as low.
Google is also determined to eliminate spammers from our search results by targeting webpages that use click bait. Sites which have extremely sensational titles that don’t match the content of the webpage are considered as clickbait. Google has asked its raters to rate such sites as low.
One more important change that Google is trying to bring about is in the usefulness of the information published on websites. Google calls it “beneficial purpose” of content. It is seen that most webpages these days concentrate only on filling their content with keywords as search fundamentals and not really paying much attention to how useful their content is to the end user. It is like creating a webpage only to appear on the top of Google’s search results and not to serve the actual purpose of sharing relevant information with the user. This is why Google has asked its raters to see if the content on a webpage has a beneficial purpose or not. Webpages without much beneficial purpose are to be rated as low.
The search quality raters guidelines in 2019 have been made keeping in mind the end user experience and flow of correct and relevant information through Google search results. The ratings provided by raters will gradually train Google’s algorithm and this data will be applied to all pages on Google search, even the pages that were not rated. These are some welcome changes that will ensure that site owners and content creators maintain the quality of content they produce, optimizing it for the search quality raters guidelines.