Google is always looking for new ways to make sure your results in searches are the best they can be. More so in the last couple of years with numerous updates. So how has this affected the Google search quality guidelines update process?
One of the main ways search information is gathered is by Search Quality Raters. They are located worldwide and are trained by Google to help them understand what kind of changes should be made.These critical responses from raters can help to improve systems for a better search journey.In October 2021, Google Search Quality Guidelines updates saw general changes, including typos, consistency and wording. Other updates include YMYL changes to ‘groups of people,’ creators' reputation and authority, the definition of ‘Upsetting-Offensive’ and ‘Lowest Page Quality’.
But, there is more hidden with the text of the quality guidelines than what can be summarised, so let’s dive into the subject further.What Are Google’s Search Quality Raters Guidelines?
For anyone attempting to unravel the SEO that comes with running a successful online venture of any kind, it helps to understand some of the ways Google works.So, in a nutshell, these are the guidelines that Google’s Raters use to find out the information they need when rating a website.A rater is hired by Google to manually seek out the best quality content for their users when typing in search queries, assess them, and report on how they are presented in the search rankings.
In these guides, raters will find any considerations they need to factor in and the general conditions to follow.The number of pages of the guidelines does fluctuate as previous guidelines were 172 pages long, and the latest update is 168 pages. Within this newest guide and those pages, five affect how raters will evaluate your content.
Rater’s information doesn’t affect search rankings
Google’s description of these guidelines explains that although they are used to make sure change is consistently evaluated by raters, they don’t affect search rankings. This indicates that raters merely report their findings to facilitate and improve future updates.It can be confusing as to who or what the guidelines refer to. So just to be clear, the procedures are for the raters to use and adopt while reporting.Any feedback found is then submitted to Google for it to be used during search crawls. To find out more about Google’s algorithms, check out our other helpful article.These guidelines, often referred to as QRGs, are published online. To read Google’s recently updated quality guidelines, click here.It’s worth remembering that over 200 ranking factors determine where a piece of content falls within the search rankings. One of the major ranking factors is ‘relevance’.This can often only be fully determined by a visual inspection of the results and identifying (or confirming) if the results presented are the most relevant.
What is E-A-T?
One of the ways the updates to Google’s search quality guidelines determine the work of a Google rater is by using the acronym E-A-T.This is how Google raters decide if your content is page one worthy! It stands for:
The guidelines and any recent updates determine how ‘high-quality content’ is defined.They also regulate ‘low-quality’ content, such as intentionally deceiving content, misinformation, spam, or content from a hate website.The Search Quality Rating Guidelines help Google determine if its algorithms perform satisfactorily or whether they need improvement. Results are also monitored and improved to show users the best quality information based on E-A-T.We also need to keep in mind that Google has had consistent updates to their algorithm over the last couple of years.Google tells us that much of its activities are centred around eradicating ‘spam’ from search results. So much so, in 2021, they developed the SpamBrain solution to help tackle spam and scams, reducing ‘scammy’ content by some 40%.
What Are The New Updates in The Search Quality Guidelines?
During the year, Google releases improvements and publishes updates from time to time. There is no definite schedule for updates.The last update was produced in October 2021, so let’s look at a shortlist first, then go through it in more detail.
- ‘Lowest page quality’ has been altered and re-organised
- ‘Groups of people’ is now a subcategory of YMYL
- Google has updated a guide for raters on how to research a website's reputation, and the creators of websites
- The definition of Upsetting-Offensive is more straightforward
The new October 2021 updates also have changes and general edits for
- Relevance for screenshots
- Updates examples
‘Lowest page quality’ update
Since the last October 2021 update, Google has made considerable improvements in this area.Noteworthy overhauls in ‘lowest page quality’ mean there are new definitions relating to misinformation, harm, and hate to ensure users are shown better quality content.
Update to ‘groups of people’
YMYL is an acronym to ensure the content seen after Google searching remains high quality.Google takes this kind of content seriously as it refers to web content that is likely to influence the searcher's money or life choices highly.With regards to previous updates, Google has included groups that fall In the following categories
- Gender identity
The new Google search quality update has also broadened to include new categories, such as
- Gender expression
- Immigration status
- Any type of marginalisation
- Anyone who has been the victim of a major event and their kin
- Systemic discrimination
- Religious caste
Content creator reputation
Credibility for any business is important, whether it’s a physical locality or online. Google sees the importance of ‘vetting’ those creating online content.The new October 2021 update thoroughly checks the author of the written content or website owner to ensure they hold a good reputation in the topic field. This means that those searching on Google can ensure that the content is trustworthy and from a reputable source.So, for example, although you may be a qualified lawyer, if you are writing about food supplements or anything out of your field of excellence, Google will be less likely to direct searchers to that content.Google wants to ensure that content is only shown to users if the creator has sufficient knowledge and has robust subject matter knowledge. For any content to be recognised as YMYL, the expectations are high.For instance, any author writing about news, shopping, finance, and medicine needs to demonstrate expert knowledge.It’s worth knowing that a Pulitzer Prize, according to Google, has now been rescinded and is no longer seen as a reputable journalistic source.
One of the biggest updates to GSQ in October 2021 is that Google removed what was previously known as ‘upsetting-offensive’.Raters are asked to flag up any content that could be upsetting or offensive to Google users.This category includes
- Any content that promotes hate or violence
- Graphic violence, which includes cruelty to animals and children
- Any racial content
- Extremely offensive terminology
- ‘How to’ referencing harmful activities such as violent assault or human trafficking
- Any other kind of highly upsetting or offensive content
Google Search Quality Guidelines Matter
The Google search quality guidelines are not just a spurious document created by Google. And while they have developed systems and initiatives previously that have not stood the test of time, the quality guidelines are a serious part of Google’s intentions for their SERP results.For anyone looking to increase their website performance, such as growing organic traffic, taking note of these new updates can give you an overview of how your site is likely to perform.Those with online ventures building online content need to ensure they are pleasing Google by consistently producing high-quality writing. If you need help creating an online strategy to get Google to recognise your business, get in touch with one of our SEO experts today!