In a discussion about this month’s algorithm update, Google’s Danny Sullivan suggested that web publishers concerned about the broad core update take time to read Google’s Quality Raters Guidelines. He suggested that the secret to better rankings is better content and that the key to better content is in the quality raters guidelines.
Want to do better with a broad change? Have great content. Yeah, the same boring answer. But if you want a better idea of what we consider great content, read our raters guidelines. That’s like almost 200 pages of things to consider:
Do Google Quality Raters Affect Rankings?
Danny Sullivan’s suggestion to study the quality raters guidelines for clues to how to rank better led to the suggestion that Google’s quality raters have a direct impact on a website’s rankings.
“Too bad webmasters can’t see the results of the human rater who score their site…”
Apparently there’s a school of thought in the SEO world that Google’s Quality Raters rate websites and that their ratings affect the rankings of those websites. Google’s Danny Sullivan responded in a clear manner that Quality Raters have zero direct effect on website rankings.
Danny Sullivan asserted in a tweeted response that quality raters have no direct algorithm effect:
To be really clear, it doesn’t work like that. Raters have no direct input into the algorithm. There’s no “rater score” or anything like that about the sample of pages they review.
Danny Sullivan went on to detail that the role of quality raters is for quality control testing the algorithms.
The data helps us understand how updates seem to be performing. It’s like having someone review the food in your restaurant. But they don’t go into the kitchen & make the food. Rater data isn’t a component of the algorithm.
Danny then reiterated that the quality raters input is not a part of the actual algorithm. Their role is limited to helping measure the algorithm, not individual websites.
To be super clear, in case others see out of context, they’re not writing actual reviews. I’m using the restaurant metaphor to emphasize how we use feedback overall to understand if our results overall seem good, not to actually be part of our algorithm.
Does the Quality Raters Guidelines Hold Ranking Secrets?
According to Danny Sullivan, great content is the key to ranking better. He then elaborated that, “if you want a better idea of what we consider great content, read our raters guidelines.”
Is it a coincidence that Google’s revised quality raters guidelines was published days before the latest update? Maybe, but it sure was close to the date of the update.
According to a discussion on WebmasterWorld, some web publishers were reporting success from reading the quality raters guidelines and applying what they learned to improving their websites.
One WebmasterWorld member reported:
“The quality of the MC (main content) is one of the most important criteria in Page Quality rating, and displays the Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (E-A-T) of the page.
…John Mueller isn’t going to audit my website after each and every algorithm update. The search quality guidelines is the closest I’m going to get to that. There are lots of little nuggets in there that you can find on your own.
Long grueling process but it’s the only way I made this business work for me.”
Another member reported on drops in rankings and that they were confused as to why. Someone answered that they should review the quality raters guidelines.
After reading the guidelines, they acknowledged there was much they had missed.
“…I learned some new things to be honest. I didnt know the 404 pages gives any value to quality rating. I might add a search button as well. From a brief analysis of the guidelines I think my website is considered as medium and not high quality and the algo is struggling where to place me on google.”
Clearly there is value in reading Google’s quality raters guidelines. If you haven’t read it yet, download the guidelines (link at end of article) and read them.
Five Strategies from Quality Raters Guidelines
I published an analysis of SEO the quality raters guidelines. My article highlights five strategies latent in the quality raters guidelines. I shared many good tips on how to improve rankings.
Key Takeaways from Quality Raters Guidelines:
- Google’s guidelines explicitly instructs the raters to judge a site according to how a page satisfies a site visitor’s goals.
- Elements of a Quality Shopping Page
- User Intent is King (or Queen)
- Award and Review Cultivation Strategy
- Be Comprehensive
- Tasks on your site must be easy to complete
After reading my article, read the quality raters guidelines (download it here). You may discover tips for improving your site and ranking better on Google. There are many useful SEO insights in that document.
Images by Shutterstock, Modified by Author
Screenshots by Author