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Inside the Mind of Google: Quality Rater Guidelines

Google Quality Raters Guidelines

Ross Jones discussing Google’s Quality Rater Guidelines at the Nashville SEO Meetup. Video below.

Google has leaked the confidential Google Webmaster Quality Rating Guide.

Most people don’t even know there’s such a thing as Google Quality Raters.

The Quality Raters Guide is 160 pages of Google telling their internal quality rating team what they think is a good site and what they think is a bad site. From Google’s Introduction to Page Quality Rating:

A Page Quality (PQ) rating task consists of a URL and a series of questions designed to guide your exploration of the landing page and the website associated with the URL. Ultimately, the goal of Page Quality rating is to evaluate how well the page achieves its purpose.

There are hundreds or possibly thousands of the Quality Raters: people who actually go out and rate websites for Google.

Why Does Google Use Human Quality Raters?

I believe there are two primary objectives for the Google Quality Raters to review PQ (Page Quality).

First, it makes sense for an entity that relies on automation as much as Google to have humans check to see how the algorithms are doing. They can also give feedback on proposed changes.

Second, we know that the human raters are classifying web pages from highest quality to lowest quality. Google may be using some type of machine learning to understand the correlations and similarities between these good and bad pages/sites and then trying to incorporate that into their algorithms.

Is this happening now? I don’t know for sure but I think it’s possible.

If you’re interested in ranking well on Google, the Quality Raters Guide should be on your list of important documents to understand.

It’s 160 pages and, for most people, it’s going to be a long, tough read. But it’s rare that we get such valuable insight into what Google thinks is good and bad.

Just be ready for some terminology that might be new to you. On that note, here’s a few of the acronyms that Google has introduced in the Quality Rater Guidelines:

  • PQ: Page Quality
  • YMYL: Your Money or Your Life pages (see the video for an explanation of why these pages are considered special by Google)
  • EAT: Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness
  • MC: Main Content
  • SC: Supplementary Content
  • Ads: Ads (sorry, I guess that’s not an acronym)

The last three are notable because Google says that everything on a page can be classified as either Main Content, Supplementary Content and Ads. And all 3 can impact your Page Quality.

Yes, that’s right. Your ads can impact whether Google thinks your page is High Quality or not.

One of my personal takeaways from the Quality Raters Guide was Google’s specific instructions on considering Supplementary Content in determining the overall quality of a page. In some cases, the SC can literally make or break a page in terms of Google’s Quality score.

Want to read the Google Quality Raters Guide? You can find it here: [PDF Download]

But if you’re not going to read it, you’ll want to make sure your SEO partner has read it for you… or maybe even created a video about it.