Google Search Quality Rater Guidelines update 2023

Learn more about E-E-A-T.

This article was prepared by Vladislav Osadchy, an analyst at SEOWORK. It is based on an analysis of changes in the Quality Rater Guidelines from December 14 by Lilly Ray. We will also leave a link to the review document on SQR. The information is most useful for organizing YMYL topics:

In a December 14 update, Google made significant changes to its Quality Assessment Guide (QRG) for Search. And although the company updates this document several times a year, in the latest version, there have been noticeable changes in the structure: many new sections and tables have been added, a total of 11 new content pages. Despite the fact that there are dozens of important details among the changes, the most important change was probably the addition of the letter E to the beginning of the popular acronym E-A-T.

We present to you E-E-A-T

Google introduces the concept of E-E-A-T, which stands for

  • Experience
  • Expertise
  • Credibility
  • Reliability

The addition of the word “experience” indicates that the quality of content can also be assessed through the prism of having direct experience on this topic from the content creator.

In the new E-E-A-T concept, Google also states that “trust” is at the center of this concept and is “the most important member of the E-E-A-T family.”

Google provides many other illustrative examples of important concepts, such as:

Evaluation of the reputation of websites and content authors.

How important is E-E-A-T and how it should be evaluated.

What does harmful content mean.

More inclusive formulations and details

It looks like Google is changing its language to be more inclusive and keep up with the times. A lot of new mentions have been added about social media platforms, influencers, and that content can take various forms, such as videos, user-generated content, and social media posts.

In this version, Google also uses a detailed approach, answering many common questions about how E-E-A-T works and how important it is for various topics. Google explains which content should be considered harmful and whether everyday experience is enough to create reliable content on this topic.

It seems to us that it would be very useful for SEO specialists to familiarize themselves with the new recommendations, since they serve as an idea of where Google plans to develop its search engine algorithms.

The most significant changes in QRG

Below are the most significant changes in the Search Quality Manual in December 2022, broken down by sections.

Understanding the Website – Section 2.5

Google has updated its guidelines for determining who manages a website. In the new QRG, Google has added the following:

“Start by finding out who is responsible for the site and who created the content on the page… Then look for information about the site and/or content creators on the site itself.” (p. 15)

This addition implies that it is important to know who actually owns and manages the website, even if these relationships are not traced directly to the site.

Google has also started referring to the reputation of the “website and/or content creators”, not just the website, indicating that the reputation of the people posting content on the site should also be taken into account when evaluating this site.

Finding out who is responsible for the site and who created the content on the page – Section 2.5.2

When determining who is responsible for the site, according to Google, it should be clear who is the owner of the site. In the previous version of QRG, Google asked the inspectors to look for which “individual, company, enterprise, foundation, etc.” is responsible for the site.

In this version, Google replaced “foundation” with “organization” and “government agency”. Google also added

“…for pages on websites such as forums and social media platforms, people may post content using an alias or username in order to avoid sharing personally identifiable information online. In these cases, the alias or username is an acceptable way to identify the content creator.”:

And a completely new table has appeared in the document, which will help quality assessment specialists determine who created the main content on the web page.

Source: Google Search Quality Raters Guidelines, page 17

This table helps experts determine who is responsible for the information on various types of sites, given that some sites have full control over their own content, while others consist mainly of user content or contributions from authors.

It seems that Google is focused on distinguishing the site owner from the content author(s).

Overall Page Quality Assessment – Section 3.0

Google has significantly changed the order of some of its recommendations related to page quality assessment and reputation information analysis.

The updated QRG offers a new three-step process for evaluating the quality of the page:

Assessment of the true purpose of the page and how harmful/deceptive it is

Assessment of the potential for the page to cause harm or otherwise be unreliable or spammy. (If the expert believes that the pages are harmful, untrustworthy or spam, he should assign them the lowest quality rating).

If the page is not harmful, the quality assessment is based on how well the page performs its task.

Google has also added a new table that needs to be taken into account when evaluating the quality of the page:

The third point asks the evaluator to consider “the extent to which the topic of the page is YMYL”. This refers to the spectrum of YMYL topics mentioned in the previous version (based on their ability to harm the user).

Google has introduced new criteria for understanding the type of website. Some of them include the following:

  • Whether the site is amateur or corporate.
  • Does it conduct financial transactions or require payment
  • Supported by volunteers or professionals.
  • Different types of sites have different page quality requirements.

Google also pointed out that while advertising is necessary for many sites to monetize, “the ways in which advertising contributes to the user experience” are taken into account when determining the quality of the page.

As mentioned in the previous sections, the reputation of the site and the creators of its content contributes to the quality of the page.

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