Google’s Search Quality Rating Guidelines Get Updated

Google has released a revised version of the 164-page set of guidelines used to help human ‘quality raters’ evaluate online content and provide feedback to Google. Google first made these guidelines public in 2015 and has revised them several times since.

Search Quality Raters

Google contracts with over 10,000 search quality raters worldwide to evaluate its search results. Raters are given actual searches to conduct, drawn from real searches that happen on Google. They then rate the quality of pages that appear in the top results.

Quality raters cannot alter Google’s results directly – a rater marking a website in a search result as low-quality will not cause that page to be banned or lose ranking.

Instead, the data generated by quality raters is used to improve Google’s search algorithms, an automated system of ranking pages. Over time, 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.

The 3 Important Updates

According to Jennifer Slegg, recent changes have focused on topics such as spotting fake news, biased or upsetting content and other factors that Google perceives as problematic when included in search results.


  1. Factoring Content Creator Reputation

“Google is now asking their raters to not only look at the reputation of the website itself but also the content creators themselves,” Slegg wrote in an email responding to questions about the update. “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.

This means that many website owners will also need to brush up on their bios, too. This doesn’t apply to just written content, but other types of content as well, such as videos and social media.

This will put a greater emphasis on sites needing to have author information and author bios on their articles, especially for those sites that do not use bylines on their content when it isn’t clear on the site itself who authors the articles.


  1. Fighting Clickbait

Google is currently fighting a war against clickbait, and raters are encouraged to rate sites as low where the title is too sensational or doesn’t match the actual content. While clickbait titles are a proven way to attract traffic to your website or blog post, be prepared for Google to turn it into a black hat SEO practice in the near future.


  1. Rewarding Beneficial Content

Too many websites and marketing agencies still believe that keyword stuffing influences rankings, rather than providing value to a searcher or answering a question. Google is now asking rater to focus on what it calls “beneficial purpose” of content, considering whether a piece of content has a beneficial purpose or not.


These developments are something that any site owner, content creator or SEO Specialist needs to consider when writing new content or auditing current content on a site. While quality raters cannot alter Google’s results directly, this update does give us a look at Google’s intentions and what changes to their algorithm might be coming in the future.

Read all about the changes here.



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