Google updates search quality raters guidelines

Google has updated its search quality raters guidelines for the first time in 2023 with a number of updates including simplifying the needs met scale, adding some more modern examples and some other minor changes.

The last update to this document was 11 months ago on December 15, 2022, which was a much larger update to the document.

What changed. Here is a list of the documented changes:

  • Simplified Needs Met scale definitions and added guidance for specific types of Needs Met ratings; refreshed rating guidance and examples accordingly
  • Modernized examples by adding examples for popular platforms and video formats and removing outdated and redundant examples
  • Minor changes throughout (expanded rating guidance for forum pages; updated language, examples, and explanations for consistency across sections; fixed typos; etc.)

Google said, “None of these involve any major or foundational shifts in our guidelines.”

What the quality raters do. Google’s quality raters are used by outside consultants hired by Google to assess the quality of the Google search results. They do not directly influence the search results and quality raters cannot downgrade or upgrade a specific site in Google Search.

“As a reminder, these guidelines are what are used by our search raters to help evaluate the performance of our various search ranking systems, and their ratings don’t directly influence ranking. The guidelines share important considerations for what content is helpful for people when using Google Search. Our page on how to create helpful, people-first content summarizes these concepts for creators to help them self-assess their own content to be successful in Google Search,” Google added.

Why we care. Although search quality evaluators’ ratings do not directly impact rankings, they do provide feedback that helps Google improve its algorithms. It is important to spend some time looking at what Google changed in this updated version of the document and compare that to the previous version of the document to see if we can learn more about Google’s intent on what websites and web pages Google prefers to rank. Google made those additions, edits, and deletions for a reason.

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