Google Quality Rating & Guidelines
Google Search is often thought of as a machine or algorithm that operates all on its own, but that isn’t the case. Yes, Google utilizes algorithms for rankings and monitoring, but these algorithms are informed by people who evaluate pages and flag any that might be ranking where they shouldn’t or aren’t meeting certain standards.
These people are known as Google Quality Raters or Evaluators. They help inform Google of a need to update algorithms or flag any sites that are not adhering to guidelines. These guidelines were leaked by the SEM Post, and Google then released them in their entirety so people could see what was happening behind the scenes.
Who are the Quality Raters?
Google Quality Raters are independent contractors who perform search engine evaluation. Prospective quality raters must go through training, pass two exams with a 90% score or above, and be hired by one of the companies Google contracts out to.
Google creates the guidelines, and these workers use them when evaluating websites. Raters don’t have the ability to affect a page’s rank on their own. Their information is used by Google when considering an update to the algorithm.
What Do Evaluators Look for on a Site?
When evaluating a website, Google Quality Raters look at a few factors in the content on a page, including expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness (EAT). They look at whether the source should be knowledgeable on that subject, as well as whether the creator of the page itself can be trusted.
Evaluators also check if the needs of the search are met by the page. Is the page answering the search query that pulled it? This is to ensure that ranking pages are high-quality and relevant to the searcher. The user experience of the page is also very important. If it is not optimized for mobile, has a bad reputation, or has too many ads that bury the main content of the page, it is considered to be low quality.
What Does This Mean for SEO?
Quality raters have been around since the early 2000s, so the release of the guidelines does not mean there are drastic changes happening. What is new is that we now we know what evaluators are looking for, and that gives more background on how the algorithm thinks.
This is good news for SEO because knowing the standards you are being held to makes it easier to meet them. Continuing to produce quality content, build valuable backlinks, and improve domain authority are all still essential components of an effective digital marketing strategy.