Each year, Google makes thousands of changes to its search algorithm, and you can read about the most recently announced change here.
Yesterday, Google released information explaining how alterations to its search rankings are internally evaluated before they are released to its users. One of the roles involved in this process is that of ‘search quality raters’.
Google has a set of rater guidelines – over 160 pages long – that are publicly available, and these detail how its algorithms surface content. Google’s Public Liaison for Search, Danny Sullivan, surmises the guidelines as follows:
“We like to say that Search is designed to return relevant results from the most reliable sources available.”
While most algorithm signals can be identified automatically, human judgement is required for signals including trustworthiness and relevance, which is where Google’s 10,000+ search quality raters factor in.
What do they do?
Ultimately, search quality raters evaluate the search result experience, and feed this information back to Google. Their ratings are based on the rater guidelines, and reflect how a real user would experience the search process. Before they are allowed to provide feedback, they must first study the rater guidelines and undergo a test to ensure they are knowledgeable enough for the job.
How does the role work?
A search quality rater is given a query set with two versions of search results – one set being the current results, with the second including a potential algorithm improvement being tested.
The raters must then evaluate every result on the page using the rater guidelines and provide a quality rating. Factored into their rating are three qualities, referred to as ‘EAT’ – expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness.
What impact do they have?
While the search quality raters play a large role in testing out algorithm changes, their findings do not directly influence improvements. Their ratings form data that contributes to Google measuring the effectiveness of its search algorithm, but, as Sullivan states:
“It’s important to note that this rating does not directly impact how this page or site ranks in Search. Nobody is deciding that any given source is “authoritative” or “trustworthy.” In particular, pages are not assigned ratings as a way to determine how well to rank them.”
It’s therefore reassuring to know that a single person won’t be deciding how trustworthy a page is, and also that any changes Google makes to its algorithm are well-tested and evaluated before being rolled out.
If you want more information on Google’s search algorithm and would like to know how it can be utilised to boost your website, why not contact our team at Engage Web?