Google Quality Raters: How They Affect SEO

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There are two things every publisher seems to fear when it comes to Google and its ranking. We all submit to Quality Rating and Algorithm updates. The later has been here for so long that we've got the full ideas of how it works. But for the former, many are still confused.

Does quality rating have effects on my ranking? If yes, to what extent? Can quality rating deindex my content? Between quality rating and algorithms, which is superior?

These and related, are a few queries I've received for a while. In summary, we want to know if the reports of quality raters truly affect SEO and ranking.

This post will, of course, take things from the basics and show you the possible influence or otherwise Google quality raters may have on your website or blog.

Important Things to Know About Google Quality Rating

As part of the search engine's efforts to purify the internet with the best possible content, it introduced QUALITY RATING. Through this development, it employs, continually, individuals who are qualified to review websites' pages and their content - making sure they comply with certain guidelines.

Of course, Google has provided publishers with guidelines to work around. These guidelines consist of:

  1. Webmaster Guidelines: General best practices to help your site appear in Google Search, as well as quality guidelines that, if not followed, can cause your page or site to be omitted from Search.
  2. General Guidelines: Best practices for having your site show up and look its best in Google.
  3. Content-Specific Guidelines: Additional tips for specific content types on your site, including images, video, AMP, AJAX, and mobile-friendly sites.
  4. Quality Guidelines: These describe specific prohibited techniques that can get your page or site omitted from Search results. Engaging in these techniques can incur a manual action for your site.

I've observed that the guidelines given to quality raters are advanced repetitions of what was given to publishers. Therefore, a rater, is, more or less, a policeman who is assigned to be sure a publisher is following the guidelines to details.

Online searching and results delivery has evolved over the years. Hence, things are getting more complex and confusing, even for the Googlebot that crawls the net to feedback Google on the content that is worth being shown in its results.

Hence, the search engine brings human reviews and analysis into the game. These people, usually employed by independent organizations and on behalf of Google, assigned different tasks with an end to give reports about the quality of ranked posts are called quality raters.

The raters are no people from the moon or Mars. They're people like you and I. Of course, they must have a Bachelor's Degree or equivalent work experience. There are positions in different languages and countries available and they must be able to comprehend newspaper-level text fluently in the languages they apply for. 

Raters, also called Search quality evaluators are home-based workers, help Google confirm that the proposed changes to its algorithms would return more relevant and good quality results.

When done with their assignments, the evaluators are to return Page Quality Rating (PQ). This is a grade given by Page Quality raters who have the responsibility of evaluating “how well a page achieves its purpose”. Purpose of the content, author expertise, links, and brand citations all come into play while measuring the quality of a page.

In summary, we can pick the most obvious assignments of a rater as follows:
  • compare two sets of search results and check which one is better, why it is better and by how much
  • rate how much an automated voice sounds natural or not
  • research and classify to which category a certain business belongs
  • create queries that tell a cell phone to do a specific action
  • check the utility of completions and related queries
  • rate the helpfulness of knowledge graph panels and other types of special results

No Matter What, Quality Raters Influence SEO

One broad aspect of Search Engine Optimization is the content - apart from the Technical SEO. You shouldn't have doubt that these people will affect your website ranking if Google should dedicate a service as important as this to them.

Of course, the search engine still trusts in its algorithms which supersedes the raters' results, yet human contributions will go along way to supports the algorithms - after all, results are meant for people, not robots.

You might have been told, raters may not matter in the long run. That may be true if algorithms ignore (possibly) their reports. If however, their ratings are taken in by the next algorithms, you will either experience a jump or drop as the case may be.

Their feedback helps us understand which changes make Search more useful. Raters also help us categorize information to improve our systems

Set of Guidelines Tailoring the Assignments of Quality Raters

Google has provided evaluators with a 168-page guidelines to follow while executing their assignments. The SEOs agree taking the most relevant aspect of these guidelines into consideration in your publication will please your raters.

If you know what raters look for on your pages and you can do that right, you win them.

In brief, below is the summary of the 200-page Google Quality Rating Guidelines
  1. The goal of the Page Quality rating is to evaluate how well the page achieves its purpose
  2. Raters have to  give very high Page Quality rating standards for YMYL pages because low-quality YMYL pages could potentially negatively impact a person’s happiness, health, financial stability, or safety
  3. Raters take into account the main content, the supplicatory content and how related the ads
  4. Raters take into account the 'who' behind the website or blog
  5. Raters take into account what others are saying about the website/blog (Reputation)
  6. Raters take how much a website establishes with respect to Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (E-A-T)
  7. Raters take into account how much a publisher complies the overall Google content guidelines with reporting illegal activities
  8. Raters report content that lacks originality

The Right Ways to Impress Google Quality Raters

The summary of our attempt to impress quality raters is to impress our target audience.

Every blog has an audience. For a few us, homeowners, students, parents. For some, teachers, writers, and more.

The best way to make quality raters happy on arrival is to follow Google content guidelines thoroughly. Other things may not matter, eventually. Below had been perceived as being enough to win the hearts of the assigned raters for your pages.

1. Keep No Secrets From Your Audience

One thing to look for as a rater is the openness of a publisher. Do you make open - your personal details like name, nickname, home or office address, gender, etc?

While guiding you on how to apply for Google Adsense that gets approval on 1st submission, I included this as one of the things Adsense's team would want to see if you must be approved. It's no different for quality raters.

A page of your website should be dedicated to "About me or Us". Here, let your audience know who they're truly dealing with. If you're an independent blogger or website owner, be confident with "I". If you work in a team, use "we" not the other way. It's perfect to include an author's bio right at the bottom of your posts.

Every page belongs to a website, and it should be clear:

  1. Who (what individual, company, business, foundation, etc.) is responsible for the website.
  2. Who (what individual, company, business, foundation, etc.) created the content on the page.

A rater wants to feel safe as soon as he reads about you, your terms, and privacy. If you meet this, he is pleased.

The types and amount of contact information needed may depend on the types of websites.

  1. Contact information and customer service information are extremely important for websites that handle money, such as stores, banks, credit card companies, etc. Users need a way to ask questions or get help when a problem occurs.
  2. Shopping websites should make their contact information open - including the store’s policies on payment, exchanges, and returns. Sometimes this information is listed under “customer service.”
  3. Humor websites may not need a high level of detailed contact information expected from online banking websites.
  4. Your website may main anonymity for certain legitimate reasons. For example, personal websites may not include personal contact information such as an individual’s home address or phone number. 
  5. Websites with user-generated content may allow the author to identify him/herself with an alias or username only.

2. Write Original, Quality and Unique Content

No visitor comes to your page without purpose. Now, a rater is your new visitor. He wants to be sure your pages serve his purpose. He checks around your pages and content to see how related your titles match up with the bodies. 

A rater won't be happy with your pages if you're guilty of clickbaiting and keyword stuffing. These leave bad experiences for raters just like they do for your regular visitors. Read: How to Repeat Keywords WITHOUT Stuffing.

Therefore, deliver what your titles promise. Write and publish quality and unique content only. And make sure to add values to existing content across the net.

In the same vein, avoid duplication of content. A rater will frown at seeing a publisher repeating the same content for different titles. Google frowns at this too. And it's one of the responsibilities of a rater to fish out.

Google considers the main content of the page to be very high or highest quality when it is created with a high degree of time and effort, and in particular, expertise, talent, and skill - this may provide evidence for the E-A-T of the page.

Very high-quality content may be created by experts, hobbyists, or even people with everyday expertise. Its standards depend on the purpose of the page and the type of content. For YMYL topics, there is a high standard for accuracy and well-established medical/scientific/historical consensus where such consensus exists.

While what constitutes original content may vary depending on the type of website, here are some examples:
  1. News Websites: very high-quality content is original reporting that provides information that would not otherwise have been known had the article not revealed it. Original, in-depth, and investigative reporting requires a high degree of skill, time, and effort. Often very high-quality news content will include a description of primary sources and other original reporting referenced during the content creation process. Very high-quality news content must be accurate and should meet professional journalistic standards.
  2. Artistic content Based Websites for (videos, images, photography, writing, etc.): very high-quality content is unique and original content created by highly skilled and talented artists or content creators. Such artistic content requires a high degree of skill/talent, time, and effort. If the artistic content is related to a YMYL topic (e.g., artistic content with the purpose of informing or swaying opinion about YMYL topics), YMYL standards should apply.
  3. Informational Content: very high-quality content is original, accurate, comprehensive, clearly communicated, professionally presented, and should reflect expert consensus as appropriate. Expectations for different types of information may vary. For example, scientific papers have a different set of standards than information about a hobby such as a stamp collecting. However, all types of very high-quality informational content share common attributes of accuracy, comprehensiveness, and clear communication, in addition to meeting standards appropriate to the topic or field.

As you can see, all available content on the net shouldn't be outside what I listed above. Ensure you follow the terms for your niche if you truly want to win your next raters.


3. Be Conscious of EAT for Your Niche

I'd earlier warned you not to believe that E-A-T is only meant for the YMYL niche. Of course, E-A-T means Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness. And it's the acronym coined to guide publishers who write for niches discussing Your Money or Your Life. YMYL refers to topics that can directly affect a person’s health or finances. The idea is that Google has raised the bar for these niches so that a site needs to carry a lot of authority to compete in them.

The bad news is, E-A-T still matters in literarily ALL niches notwithstanding. If you truly want to be taken seriously by your raters, you shouldn't leave it to only the YMYL niches even if you're not in that industry.

A rater looks for three things even if your pages are made of quality content.

  1. Expertise: He wants to be sure you're an expert on what you're writing for. And if you have other authors, are they equally experts?
  2. Authoritativeness: He wants to be sure you and the website have established the authoritativeness by being more focused on a niche and avoid going multi-niche. Read: Single-Niche vs Multi-Niche Blogging: Which is Better and Profitable?
  3. Trustworthiness: The trustworthiness of the creator of the main content, the content itself, and the website as a whole.

Keep in mind that there are high E-A-T pages and websites of all types, even gossip websites, fashion websites, humor websites, forum and Q&A pages, etc. In fact, some types of information are found almost exclusively on forums and discussions, where a community of experts can provide valuable perspectives on specific topics.

Ensure each of your posts should establish your in-depth knowledge of the topics such that each visitor can be sure of your expertise, authority, and let them trust you. If raters can trust you, he's won on the visit.

4. Avoid Illegal and Offensive Activities

There are quick ways Google can find out you're dealing with illegal activities and offensive utterances such as dangerous words, training, promotion of racism, and all sorts of illicit activities. They can get you when the crawlers flag your words. However, people have grown up to twist things for bots. So, for a long time, they've remained uncaught.

If you can't be caught by spiders, you can't escape quality raters. This is one of the reasons Google is investing millions of dollars into this project. A rater will catch you in the act and you know the result?

Websites or pages without some sort of beneficial purpose, including pages that are created with no attempt to help users, or pages that potentially spread hate, cause harm, or misinform or deceive users, should receive the Lowest rating.

Hence, be sure you're free from any acts that will flag you red by the raters.

Upsetting-Offensive content typically includes the following:

  1. Content that promotes hate or violence against a group of people, including but not limited to those grouped on the basis of race or ethnic origin, religion, disability, age, nationality, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender or gender identity.
  2. Content with racial slurs or extremely offensive terminology without context or beneficial purpose.
  3. Depiction of graphic violence without context or beneficial purpose.
  4. Explicit how-to information about harmful activities (e.g., how-tos on human trafficking or violent assault).
  5. Other types of content that users in your locale would find extremely upsetting or offensive.

However, note:

Harmful, hateful, violent, or sexually explicit search results are only appropriate if the person phrased their search in a way that makes it clear that they are looking for this type of content, and there is no other reasonable interpretation of the words used in their search.

In the same vein, using images in your posts should be done with caution. A rater is assigned to flag your pages for images that may openly or cunning promote child pornography and rated abuses.

Images of sexually explicit conduct can involve a real child; a computer-generated, morphed, composite or otherwise altered image that appears to be a child (think of images that have been altered using “Photoshop”); or an adult who appears to be a child; and the image can be non-photographic (e.g., drawings, cartoons, anime, paintings, or sculptures) so long as the subject is engaging in sexually explicit conduct that is obscene. If it is indistinguishable from child pornography, it is child pornography.

5. Be Responsible for E-A-T in a YMYL Niche

A publisher for Your Money or Your Life Niche is entirely responsible for all the content as the pages could potentially negatively impact a person’s happiness, health, financial stability, or safety.

In those niches, every page and content should be mindful of E-A-T. Google has very high Page Quality rating standards for YMYL pages.

However, for any other websites that are not YMYL, there can come, into work, posts that will require you to treat them with the YMYL cautions. For such content, you may need to carry out extensive researches before writing. In order words, your references must be reputable enough to convince a rater of its E-A-T.

Some types of pages or topics that could potentially impact a person’s future happiness, health, financial stability, or safety include:

  1. News and Current Events: news about important topics such as international events, business, politics, science, technology, etc. Keep in mind that not all news articles are necessarily considered YMYL (e.g., sports, entertainment, and everyday lifestyle topics are generally not YMYL).
  2. Civics, Government, and Law: information important to maintaining an informed citizenry, such as information about voting, government agencies, public institutions, social services, and legal issues (e.g., divorce, child custody, adoption, creating a will, etc.).
  3. Finance: financial advice or information regarding investments, taxes, retirement planning, loans, banking, or insurance, particularly webpages that allow people to make purchases or transfer money online.
  4. Shopping: information about or services related to research or purchase of goods/services, particularly webpages that allow people to make purchases online.
  5. Health and Safety: advice or information about medical issues, drugs, hospitals, emergency preparedness, how dangerous an activity is, etc.
  6. Groups of people: information about or claims related to groups of people, including but not limited to those grouped on the basis of race or ethnic origin, religion, disability, age, nationality, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender or gender identity.
  7. Others: there are many other topics related to big decisions or important aspects of people’s lives which thus may be considered YMYL, such as fitness and nutrition, housing information, choosing a college, finding a job, etc.

6. Be Original with your Ads and Link-Building Activities

Link-building strategies have been hot topics for SEOs. Fortunately, we have legitimate ways to build links. There are, of course, illegal ways. Which one do you choose? 

You might be doing it wrongly and remained uncaught for years. Google set out raters to check the qualities of your links. Not only where you're getting links but who you're giving to.

Similarly, since most links are in form of ads (they take visitors out of your main content), users' experience should be your watchword in implementing things.

Ads may contribute to a good user experience. Advertisements/Monetization (Ads) is content and/or links that are displayed for the purpose of monetizing (making money from) the page. The presence or absence of Ads is not by itself a reason for a High or Low-quality rating. Without advertising and monetization, some webpages could not exist because it costs money to maintain a website and create high-quality content.

Ads should be visible. However, some Ads, supplementary content, or interstitial pages (i.e., pages displayed before or after the content you are expecting) make it difficult to use the main content. Pages with ads or other features that distract visitors from or interrupt the use of the main content would be given a Low rating.

If caught in the act, your reports won't be pleasing.

Conclusion

It's easy to dedicate several posts to quality ratings. Yet, the summary of what everything is all about is "write, for your audience, quality content and avoid all mistakes that can hinder your ranking".

Before Google's quality rating, the search engine had been doing a good job in ranking content using its Pagerank and regular algorithms. To date, it still uses the same. In fact, Your score for the rating is submitted for the next updates. Algorithm takes all the reports into account as it sweeps the net. And where possible, it effects the results of a rater or overlooks it if deems necessary.

However, it will be incorrect to say raters don't matter in SEO. It's even weak to say they don't have effects on your training. Of course, not directly, they can decide your fate in front of Google. Hence, they need to be pleased. If you can make your audience genuinely happy, you already please a rater.

In summary, if a page has one or more of the following characteristics, the Low rating applies:

  1. An inadequate level of Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (E-A-T).
  2. The quality of the main content is low.
  3. There is an unsatisfying amount of the main content for the purpose of the page.
  4. The title of the main content is exaggerated or shocking.
  5. The Ads or supplementary distracts from the main content.
  6. There is an unsatisfying amount of website information or information about the creator of the main content for the purpose of the page (no good reason for anonymity).
  7. A mildly negative reputation for a website or creator of the main content, based on extensive reputation research

Do you think you have no issues with your raters on the visit? Do you think these are too much effort to please quality raters? Share your views in the comment section below.

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