Marketing 3 min read

Google Doesn't use Search Quality Ratings for Search Ranking

Hebi B. /

Hebi B. /

Google‘s algorithm can detect several signals that can affect a webpage’s ranking factor. But signals, like a page’s relevance and trustworthiness, require human judgment.

That’s where the search quality raters come in. Google has over 10,000 people across the globe who evaluate how people are likely to experience search results.

The search giant publishes a document — rater guidelines— that describes how its search engine intends to surface content. Then, the raters provide ratings based on these guidelines.

However, before a search quality rater can provide ratings, such an individual must have studied the guideline and passed specific tests.

Public liaison for Google Search, Danny Sullivan wrote in a recent blog post:

“They [Search quality raters] provide ratings based on our guidelines and represent real users and their likely information needs, using their best judgment to represent their locale.”

Here’s how they do that.

How Google’s Search Quality Raters Works

Google generates hundreds of query samples and assigned them to a group of raters. There are usually two versions of the result page — the current version and the improvement Google is considering.

The raters have to assess the page against the query based on Google’s rater guidelines. Also, they usually perform reputational research on sources to evaluate expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness (E-A-T).

For example, a rater would do online research to see whether a recipe page’s publisher has any of the following.

  • Cooking credentials
  • Profiles or references on other food websites
  • Produced other content with a positive review on recipe sites.

It’s a way to verify whether a page is trustworthy and if the publisher has a good reputation. After the research, the raters then provide a search quality rating for each page.

Does Google Use Search Quality Ratings for Search Ranking?

According to Google’s Danny Sullivan, search quality ratings don’t directly impact how Google ranks a page in Search. “Nobody is deciding that any given source is “authoritative” or “trustworthy,” he said.

He further explained that search quality ratings would be a poor signal to use for ranking. That’s because hundreds of billions of pages are continually changing, and it would be impossible to keep up.

Instead, Google uses ratings as a data point to measure how well its system works to deliver great content.

“While our search results will never be perfect, these research and evaluation processes have proven to be very effective over the past two decades,” Sullivan concluded.

Read More: Study: Google Products Dominate the Search Engine’s First Page

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