Over the past weekend, Google made an update to their Google Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines, or as we call it, the “Search Quality Guidelines”. The update happened on May 16, 2019 and while much of it remains similar to the update from June 2018, there were a few new additions.
As business owners, we know that time is of the essence. Most people don’t have time to read a 166-page document, but if that’s you, I’ve included a link to the Guideline at the bottom of this article.
For everyone else, I’ve taken a very high-level overview of the document and broken out some key areas that stood out to me as someone that works in SEO on a daily basis.
What Is The Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines?
In short, it’s a 166-page document that outlines how Google tests the search engine results to make sure that their algorithm is operating as expected. These are manual reviews done by HUMANS to verify that the program is actually working correctly.
This is not a document that outlines everything about how the search engine works, rather it’s key areas that are used by individual testers.
This is the document that is followed, not only for testing but also when it comes to manual reviews and in the worse case scenarios, how a manual action is applied (or removed) from a website.
Why Is This Document Important For Search Engine Optimization Companies?
Any time an SEO Company gets a sneak peek behind the curtains of Google is a win! These guidelines were first leaked in 2011, not by Google, but an employee of Google.
Previously, this has been kept pretty much under wraps.
We knew it existed.
Google knew we knew it existed.
But it was never public.
In 2011, that all changed and we got our first look at how the document guided a person through evaluating a website, and what areas could potentially trip up a search engine and give the site a bad score.
Over the next few years, Google themselves would publish versions as “official documents” and even housed them on their network. This is one of the latest documents.
We recommend you download it to your computer, as it is unknown if Google will keep the document online. There was a bug (as it was later referred to) last year where the document was released and then promptly removed. It did make it’s way back online a few days later however.
(Update 8/8/2019: While not a bug this time, Google removed the link again, but it’s back online at a new location – see below for the link)
What have we learned from the Google Quality Raters Guidelines?
There’s so much stuff that we learned over the years, it’s hard to break it down into just a few lines, but here’s some key bullet point information that the document outlines and walks their raters through;
- The difference between a website and a webpage
- What’s the purpose of a webpage
- YMYL (Your Money or Your Life) Pages, and how they should be evaluated
- Identifying Main Content, Supplementary Content, Advertisements & Page Parts
- The reputation of the website, or the creator of the content
- Overall Page Quality Rating
- Identify High Quality and Low Quality pages
- E-A-T – Expertise, Authority, Trust
- Which ads (and where) they can be distracting to users
- Deceptive or Misinformation pages
- Mobile users and their explicit queries
- Mobile and location of users
- Are the needs of a user met on the page based on the query entered
- Failure to load and the impact on ratings
- Misspelled and Mistyped queries
- Foreign language issues
As you can see, there’s a wealth of information being discussed.
One of the ones that stood out to use was the EAT score and how the reputation of not just the website, but the person that wrote the content, can influence where on the scale Google places the results.
For the past six years or so, we’ve written several articles about Quality Content and how it affects your SEO. To read more of those articles, check out the article “The Role Of Quality Content” or “What Does Quality Content Actually Mean?”
Do you want to read the Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines?
There’s so much information in this document it would take us dozens of blog posts to review (and maybe we’ll do that at some point). But while you’re waiting on us to dissect everything, you can take a look at the document yourself by following this link: Download Google’s Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines PDF.