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Comprehensive Overview of the Google Search Quality Rater Guidelines Update

Google’s latest Update to the Guidelines for Assessing Search Quality introduces alterations and supplements pertaining to Your Money or Your Life (YMYL) and E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness) that have a substantial impact on page rankings. It is imperative, therefore, to acquaint oneself with these modifications and integrate them into both existing and new content in order to enhance search rankings.

Despite the consensus among Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and content experts regarding the relevance of Google E-A-T in search rankings, its precise significance remains difficult to empirically ascertain. A contributing factor is the failure to grasp the question, “What constitutes YMYL content?” Consequently, content creators encounter challenges when developing a YMYL site and producing content that aligns with the intentions and criteria of search engine users for achieving higher rankings.

On July 28, 2022, Google revised its Guidelines for Assessing Search Quality Raters. As detailed in the Guideline Change Log found in Appendix 2, the key alterations encompass:

  • Updated language to align with the recently released Guidelines for Assessing Search Quality Raters: An Overview.
  • Refined YMYL criteria to focus on subjects necessitating a high degree of precision to avert significant harm; introduced a new table of instances and revised existing examples.
  • Introduced clarifications to the sections on Low and Lowest Page Quality, underscoring that the type and level of E-A-T are contingent on the purpose of the page, and that low-quality and detrimental pages can be found on any type of website.
  • Reconfigured language throughout to be relevant across all types of devices.
  • Miscellaneous adjustments (refreshed screenshots; removed or updated outdated examples and concepts; omitted user location when irrelevant, etc.).

The updated Google Quality Raters Guidelines arrive at an opportune moment. For instance, the redefined interpretation of YMYL (Your Money or Your Life) is poised to offer greater clarity to content and SEO internet marketing services regarding “what constitutes high-quality content” and “what constitutes low-quality content.” Furthermore, it elucidates how digital content may have adverse effects on individuals or society.

This current update also delineates the extent of Google E-A-T’s impact on the quality of YMYL content and the repercussions of featuring subpar content on authoritative and trustworthy sites.

While the Google Search Quality Rater Guidelines function as a guide for evaluators, they are also an invaluable resource for content and SEO services. Comprehending the latest Google algorithm update empowers them to enhance the Google search outcomes visible on the search engine results pages (SERPs).

What Is A Google Quality Rater?

Google employs an automated system to scan, index, and rank pages/posts based on search keywords. Periodically, they release a Google search algorithm update to ensure that the search outcomes align with user intent. Nonetheless, humans are essential to the continual improvement of its search engine.

Google Quality Raters are individuals contracted by Google to aid in the assessment of web pages featured in search results. Their contributions come into play during a planned Google search algorithm update. In such instances, Google generates two sets of search results – one with the latest Google algorithm update and another with the planned modifications.

The raters then assign ratings using a scale defined in the Google Quality Raters Guidelines, specifically assessing the following two criteria:

  • Needs Met (NM)
  • Page Quality (PQ)

It’s worth noting that the evaluations conducted by search quality raters do not directly influence the Google SERP ranking of the websites they evaluate. Instead, their assessments serve as the foundation for implementing a Google search algorithm update aimed at enhancing Google search results.

What Google Altered In The July 2022 Search Quality Raters Guidelines

The most notable revisions made by Google address these inquiries:

  • What constitutes YMYL content?
  • How significant is Google E-A-T in relation to page quality?
  • What defines low-quality content?
  • What defines high-quality content?

1. YMYL (Your Money or Your Life)

In earlier iterations of the Search Quality Raters Guidelines, Google categorized YMYL topics into various segments:

  • News and current affairs
  • Civic affairs, governance, and legal matters
  • Financial matters
  • Commerce
  • Health and safety
  • Social groups
  • Miscellaneous

In the July 2022 update, Google eliminated these categories. Instead, they now define a YMYL site or page by its potential for causing harm.

The revised version of the Quality Rater Guidelines now delineates YMYL by its potential for causing harm. These subjects may influence the “health, financial stability, or safety of people or the welfare or well-being of society.”

Google also specified whom the harmful subjects might impact:

  • The individual who directly viewed or used the content.
  • Others affected by the individual who viewed or used the content.
  • Groups of individuals or society at large affected by the actions of those who viewed or used the content.

Furthermore, Google characterized YMYL subjects as:

  • Hazardous or perilous, encompassing self-harm, criminal activities, and violent extremism.
  • Posing a risk if it is inaccurate or untrustworthy.

The updated Google Quality Raters Guidelines guide raters in determining whether a subject falls under YMYL by considering the type of harm it may cause:

  • Health or safety
  • Financial well-being
  • Society
  • Other

Another addition in the update is that Google does not classify a hypothetical harmful page about a non-harmful subject as YMYL. To be deemed YMYL, content must have the potential to cause harm or impact people’s well-being.

To aid in the assessment of whether a subject qualifies as Your Money or Your Life, Google included a new table featuring examples on page 12 of the Search Quality Raters Guidelines.

Source: Google

2. Google E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness)

Google places great emphasis on websites that exhibit expertise, authority, and trustworthiness. These qualities can be gauged by considering various factors, including the author, content, and website.

In the updated Search Quality Raters Guidelines, Google appended “Informational [main content] on YMYL topics is mildly inaccurate or misleading” to its definition of E-A-T in section 6.1.

Google also reiterated that the level of E-A-T requisite for a page is contingent on its purpose and subject matter. If a page falls under YMYL, E-A-T is of paramount importance due to the potential harm it may cause. Consequently, even if a YMYL site enjoys a positive reputation, search quality raters are obligated to assign a low-quality content rating if there is a significant risk of harm.

One approach for SEO internet marketing services and content creators to interpret the updated E-A-T definition is to ensure that the content they generate does not have the potential to be harmful, in order to be considered high-quality content for Google SERP ranking. However, this is contingent on numerous other factors as well.

3. Lowest Quality Pages

A further addition introduced in the July 2022 Search Quality Raters Guidelines is a new section within section 7.0 discussing Lowest Quality Pages. This addition stipulates that pages from official, expert, or authoritative content creators may also be detrimental. In such cases, search quality raters must assign them the lowest quality rating.

Google also advises search quality raters to scrutinize pages from governmental websites, educational institutions, charitable organizations, or other generally helpful websites for “purpose, deception, harmfulness, untrustworthiness, and spam” before taking other Page Quality characteristics into consideration.

The following are summaries of the different types of Lowest Pages found on pages 43-44.

Source: Google

Integrating YMYL And E-A-T Guidelines For Enhanced SERP Rankings

Individuals, enterprises, and entities offering content and SEO services must stay abreast of the latest Google algorithm update to continue crafting pages and posts optimized for Google SERP ranking.

Keeping pace with the most recent update to the Guidelines for Assessing Search Quality Raters also imparts crucial insights for improving Google search outcomes. Thus, in addition to on-site, off-site, and technical SEO strategies, it is vital to prioritize meeting search user intent by delivering content aligned with page quality rating guidelines.

Fortunately, Google has facilitated comprehension of YMYL, E-A-T, and Lowest Quality ratings by providing lucidity and incorporating new tables for reference.

Still perplexed? Visit our website today for further guidance on generating content that search-quality raters would categorize as high-quality content. Our experts can elucidate how we integrate optimal SEO practices and the latest content creation concepts to establish expertise, authority, and trustworthiness on your website.


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