New Google Quality Rater Guidelines Updates and Why They Matter
Recently, Google added five important updates to its search quality rater guidelines (QRGs). They released a revised document, along with a brief explanation of each.
In the announcement, Google’s Public Search Liaison Danny Sullivan explains what the updates are for. He says they update the raters’ guidelines for quality.
Doing so helps improve the QRGs the same way it enhances the functionalities of Google Search.
Sullivan also summarizes the October 2021 update. He says it consists of enhanced clarity and improved organization. It also includes refreshed and modernized sections in the Google quality rater guidelines.
These new changes to the QRGs are relevant to Google’s raters themselves. They are also important to content creators and digital marketing experts.
These five updates better define how to come up with high-quality and credible content that is likely to get higher ratings in Google searches.
How Important Are the Google Quality Rater Guidelines?
The QRGs serve as a training manual for search quality evaluators on how to rate the quality of websites. The QRGs don’t directly affect search engine optimization (SEO).
However, they provide great insight into what content Google looks for exactly in web pages.
Understanding quality pages helps website owners and content creators build more effective content. This content tends to rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs).
We have established how the QRGs are helpful to both raters and web content experts.
Now, here are some ways in which Google’s QRGs help users themselves have a better search experience:
- To mold users’ behaviors so that they ultimately become better searchers
- To turn users into more valuable customers, helping businesses stay in business
- To help users find high-quality pages with helpful content they can consume quickly
The QRGs are just as important to both digital marketing professionals and search users as they are to every Google search quality rater.
This implies that there is accountability from all angles when it comes to making the most of the search engine service.
This also means that everyone must act fairly and responsibly with their contribution to the digital world.
An Overview of What’s New in the Google Quality Rater Guidelines
Here are the updated parts of Google’s QRGs as of October 2021:
- The “groups of people” definition under the YMYL category
- How to research the reputation of websites and creators
- The “lowest page quality” structure and examples
- The “upsetting-offensive” description
- Minor sections with improved clarity and consistency
What do these changes to the guidelines mean for Google’s search quality raters? More importantly, how does it affect SEO professionals with the way they develop content for their sites?
5 Changes to Google’s Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines
1. Definition of “Groups of People” Subcategory Under YMYL
Google has expanded the definition of the “groups of people” subcategory under the category of YMYL, which stands for “your money or your life.” This particular category refers to web pages that have the potential to negatively impact people’s lives.
They may be harmful to an individual’s finances, health, happiness, and safety if they come across such content.
Examples of these YMYL pages include the following:
- News and current events
- Civics, government, and law
- Health and safety
- Groups of people
- Big-decision topics (e.g., choosing a career)
The “groups of people” subcategory originally includes information on the following:
- Sexual orientation
- Gender identity
- Ethnic origin
- Veteran status
Google has recently added the following classifications to this specific subcategory:
- Sex or gender
- Gender expression
- Immigration status
- History of any major, violent event, along with their kin
- Other qualities relating to marginalization or discrimination
These extra classifications show that Google intends to be more comprehensive in how it defines YMYL content. This new definition of “groups of people” includes different identities and socioeconomic conditions.
2. How To Research the Reputation of Websites and Content Creators
Google has updated its guidelines for researching reputation information. This applies to websites and their content creators.
Here are the important changes to how search quality raters should check reputation information:
- The guide originally states that “stores” with frequent user ratings can provide a sign of their reputation. The recent change now specifies this is applicable to “websites.” Google also added how user reviews may be helpful for online stores but not as much for websites that provide medical information.
- Google says that a website is reputable if it has several “detailed, trustworthy, and positive” reviews. Before, only the frequency of positive reviews was noted.
- Google no longer considers the Pulitzer Prize as evidence of a journalism website’s good reputation. They have also removed any mentions of the award in previous versions of the QRGs.
- Biographical articles are a good measure of reputation information. This applies to content creators and individual authors, who can be considered worthy sources.
- The part that says “when a high level of authoritativeness or expertise is needed” has been changed to “for YMYL information topics.”
- The statement “reputation research is necessary for all websites” has been changed. Now, reputation research is needed only “to the extent that an established reputation can be found.”
These updates encourage every search quality rater to carefully consider whether a specific website topic falls under the YMYL category.
This is a call to test reputation information meticulously, considering all possible classifications that pertain to the “groups of people” subcategory.
With this reputation measure in place, it promotes the highest level of expertise, authority, and trustworthiness (E-A-T) that sites should have. This ensures that various content from the web will help improve people’s quality of life and not diminish them the way YMYL topics do, whether intentionally or not.
3. New Structure and Examples for “Lowest Page Quality” Section
Google has restructured the “lowest page quality” section and provided new examples to create a more defined structure. These significant changes help better determine when sites or pages have the lowest quality.
The section now has a more expanded definition of what it means for a page to have the “lowest quality.” Now, there are specific examples to clarify what causing harm, spreading hate, and misinforming readers mean.
Google has added the following scenarios:
- Sites that “doxx” users, a cyberattack that involves discovering their real identities
- Content featuring instructions on how to commit suicide or homicide
- Topics that are offensive, stereotypical, and dehumanizing
- Harmful content that goes against widely accepted knowledge
- False theories not backed by hard facts or logical evidence
These changes are significant to Google’s search quality evaluator guidelines because they provide raters a wider view of what the lowest-quality web content consists of.
By having more concrete examples, they will have a better grasp of such harmful content and report them accordingly.
This also encourages website owners and content creators to be more responsible for the type of content they post.
4. Definition of the Term “Upsetting-Offensive”
Google has simplified the definition of “upsetting-offensive,” which is redundant with the “lowest page quality” section. Here are the following updates on the term:
- It now has a more brief and concise meaning that doesn’t overlap with the “lowest quality page” definition.
- It is no longer applicable to content deemed as such even if it satisfies the user’s intent.
- It still maintains that content may be considered as such by searchers who belong to that locale.
With these updates in place, it redefines the way the Google quality rater guidelines look at what can be considered as “upsetting-offensive.”
It may have been a challenge in the past to categorize accordingly. This is why having a properly delineated classification will assist raters in better identifying such content.
5. Minor Sections With Enhanced Clarity and Consistency
Finally, Google has made minor changes throughout the search quality evaluator guidelines to improve content. Here are the following minor updates:
- Updated URLs and screenshots
- Removed examples that no longer apply
- Fixed typographical errors
- Improved the wording
- Strengthened consistency
Transparency of Search Quality Rater Guidelines Through Google’s Changelog
This recent announcement on the updates to the QRGs shows how Google aims to show transparency in their search quality rater guidelines. The update even comes with a changelog beginning December 2019 to go with the revised document.
This act of transparency helps digital marketers and SEO experts to stay on top of the guidelines, which will help steer them in the right direction.
This will equip them with a better understanding of what consists of a quality search, thus encouraging them to optimize their content and achieve greater results.
What These Updates Mean for Digital Content Marketers
Google’s QRGs are an incredibly valuable guide for content marketers. Familiarization with these guidelines helps them easily achieve high-quality content.
Understanding how Google defines quality content will help with efforts to optimize for search engines as a key part of any digital marketing plan.
Most users prefer to read quality content. They search for the best content out there, so it’s no surprise that Google wants to have the best content out there, too.
If blog posts, for example, are not written according to what’s specified in the QRGs, this could hurt rankings or cause Google to think that they mainly consist of spammy, low-quality content.
These updates to the QRGs are extremely important to digital content marketers because they serve as a vantage point for creating an actionable plan for thriving in the digital world. With specific instructions and examples in place, it will be more manageable to map out which articles to write or text descriptions to include in websites.
Time To Find Experts Who Can Keep Up With Google’s Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines
Google’s search quality evaluator rules are getting more stringent every year. Not to mention, adding content to your website to build your brand is not as simple as it once was. You have to consider every single detail that goes into your content. You don’t want to risk users not finding you in their searches.
Avoid breaking the guidelines of what high-quality and credible content should be. Consider hiring an SEO expert. At Infintech Designs, we offer a wide range of results-driven services. We also provide well-executed SEO strategies.
We are a multi-departmental, New Orleans-based company that focuses on improving website performance. We ensure compliance with Google’s QRGs and search-friendliness.
If you’re looking for the right SEO company that can help you in New Orleans, we are here to assist you. We have the right strategy for your website — one that aligns with your business goals.
It’s time to find experts who can keep up with Google’s search quality evaluator guidelines. Visit our website for more information on our services or use our contact box to send us a message today!
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