Whilst Google relies on complex algorithms to generate search results they also use a small outsourced army of people around the world to evaluate the quality of the search results. These people are called Google Search Quality Raters. The job they’re tasked with is to review the websites returned in Google’s search results, assessing their quality and confirming if they meet the needs of searchers.
The key reason Google has become the world’s most popular search engine is because of the quality of its search results. However, as the quote below shows, Google is well aware that today’s leader can very quickly become tomorrow’s loser (a lesson learnt the hard way by AltaVista when they lost the plot and Google displaced them).
“Our popularity is a result of our continuous efforts to provide the best search service for users. Google earns its success one click at a time – we are only as good as our last search result as users are free to use other search engines.”
Adam Lasnik, Google Program Manager
In line with this, the job of Search Quality Raters is to validate that Google is serving the most appropriate and relevant search results. To do this, Google supplies them with a 160-page handbook which provides detailed instructions on how to assess web pages.
Until now this handbook has been an internal confidential document and never meant for public release. Despite this, copies have been leaked over the years. Last month Google published an updated version of the handbook but this very quickly got leaked. And so now, for the first time, Google has officially made the document public. You can download it here: Google Search Quality Rating Guidelines
Why should you care?
If you have any interest in SEO then this is worth reading because the guidelines provide a clear insight into what Google believes search users want to see. However, if you’re hoping Google spills the secret sauce to getting number one in their search results you’ll be disappointed.
With mobile now accounting for more than 50% of search queries Google has, not surprisingly, added a lot more detail around mobile-related guidelines and local queries in the latest handbook.
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Mark is a Partner and Senior Consultant at SureFire which he founded back in 2002. Prior to establishing SureFire he worked for KPMG Consulting. Today Mark heads up SEO, embracing the challenges that can come with complex website implementations. Outside of work, his interests beyond his family are running, snowsports, diving and fishing (badly).