The Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines show us what Google considers good user experience and high-quality content, but are they part of the algorithm?
The Search Quality Assessor Guidelines are a document used by third-party quality assessors to inform Google about changes to algorithms that might improve search results.
If you've heard some discussions about Google's Search Quality Assessment Tool Guidelines, but aren't quite sure what they're for, you might think so.Let's take a look at why people think these guidelines are a ranking factor, the evidence for and against it, and whether there is any evidence that the document is part of Google's algorithm.
Disclaimer: Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines as Ranking Factors
In 2011, Jennifer Ledbetter (aka PotPieGirl) discovered the then-secret URL scoring guide in a Google search.
I wrote an article about it shortly after, when Google's training manual for human URL quality raters was 125 pages long.
URL ratings seem to be a step lower than search quality ratings, as evidenced by this line in the introduction: "When you can do URL ratings, you're well on your way to being a successful search quality rater!
There was some initial speculation that these quality raters might impose manual penalties if they came across pages that violated Google's guidelines, since they were going through web rating pages and making suggestions.
However, these are not members of the web spam team.They are not Google employees at all.Quality raters are and have been third-party contractors.
As far as I know, at least five companies provide search quality ratings to Google and other search engines, including Microsoft's Universal Human Relevance System:
Looking back at this article from nearly 10 years ago, we see that despite changes to the algorithm (as evidenced by all the updates we know about - and more than we don't), Google's goals have remained largely the same .
The most important things at the time still make for a great search experience today:
- How to interpret search queries.
- Understand user intent.
- Language and location context.
- Search results page usability;usefulness of content.
Back then, the same things that got you stuck on Google still give you headaches today – keyword stuffing, sneaky redirects, and mass-produced/rotated or duplicated content.
Evidence for the Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines as a Ranking Factor
The Search Quality Rater is used to evaluate proposed changes to the algorithm so that Google can measure the impact of each change in small tests and adjust (or cancel updates) accordingly.
Their feedback is not - and never has been - a direct ranking factor.
However. . .
Do I believe that what the rater is looking for is what Google wants to see on the page?
Ben Gomes, Google's senior vice president of education, has been with the company since it launched a few months ago.He was vice president of search engineering in 2018, he told CNBC at the time.:
"You can think of the rater guide as where we want our search algorithms to be.They don't tell you how the algorithm ranks the results, but they basically show what the algorithm should do.
Creating high-quality content and optimizing it for search is much easier when you understand what Google itself thinks about quality.
Evidence of Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines as a Ranking Factor
Google tells us how human quality raters can help improve search results:
- They provide feedback on search experiments to inform which potential changes are most useful.
- They help Google categorize information to improve its systems.
- They do this using the rater's guidelines.
Remember, Google is a huge, complex information retrieval system.
Feedback provided by quality raters can affect how the algorithm works.But they have no direct effect on the output of these algorithms (search results).
Search Quality Assessment Guidelines as Ranking Factors: Our Verdict
The Search Quality Assessment Tool Guidelines provide insight into what Google considers a good user experience and high-quality content, which can be very beneficial.
Implementing some of the teachings in these guides as best practices may help your SEO strategy as you will provide an improved searcher experience.
But ranking factors they are not.
Bottom line: Google does not use its Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines as a search ranking signal.