Brief Conclusions from the 2011 Google Quality Raters’ Handbook

by My Web Writers

Thank you, Jennifer Ledbetter at Pot Pie Girl for uncovering the 125-page, Google Quality Rater’s Handbook right on the Google website.  This manual outlines Google’s specific guidelines for rating websites when queries need human review of content quality.  Google required the removal of the link to this insightful, proprietary manual.

If you went on vacation or took a break from the computer to care for your sick mother because you thought the Google Panda 2.5 Update was the last of the big news this month –  sorry.  You’ll have to look under stones to find the Rater’s Manual, now.  Google appears to have scrubbed their site of it.

The details regarding the release of this manual to Google’s website are sketchy; but, given the company’s reaction, I suspect someone’s in hot water.  All judgment or trust issues aside, Google ought to consider reworking it and re-releasing it.  This document provides numerous, helpful examples of what Google considers Vital, Useful, Relevant, Slightly Relevant, and Off-Topic or Useless urls.  Give your students the rubric upfront and they’ll understand exactly what’s expected.  In What is Quality Content Part 1, I analyze Google’s content quality standards; but, this rater’s manual puts the content writer in the rater’s shoes.  By page 100, you feel ready to sign up at Google to rate websites.

Some Google Ranking Manual Conclusions

The following bullets include a few of my conclusions from this manual.

  • Mal-ware can ruin ratings.  Raters are told to assign “Unratable: didn’t load” status to urls with certain warning messages.
  • Consider the user’s intent.  What is the user looking for when he or she enters a Google query? Does your content deliver your url’s promised keywords?
  • Content should include applicable knowledge, courses of action, and navigation.
  • Raters are “expected to have some understanding of commonly used languages for your task location.”  While raters are asked to research the keywords they are rating, they might not be experts or highly proficient in your industry’s terminology.  Consider the customers and raters who have minimal proficiency and knowledge when you’re producing your site’s content.
  • Not speaking from authority, writing with credibility, or reviewing with expertise can hurt rankings.  Outdated, incomplete, and shallow content loses.
  • Content is rated on “how helpful” it is to users.  Is your content helpful?
  • Low quality content contains many ads and links that lead to ads.
  • When a rater is in doubt about the quality of a website’s content, they are supposed to give a lower rating to the url in question.
  • Raters are asked to rate urls in Firefox.  Check your urls in the Firefox browser.
  • How many keywords constitute keyword stuffing?  Google raters use their own judgment to decide.
  • Urls stuffed with keywords could indicate spam.
  • Meta tags with keywords don’t necessarily indicate spam at Google.

Posts about the 2011 Google Quality Raters Handbook from Other Bloggers

 To date, you’ll find additional reviews and conclusions about the 2011 Google Quality Raters’ Handbook from the following bloggers:

Blizzard Internet Marketing

Leaked Google Search Guidelines Give an Insight into Ranking Criteria

White Hat Crew

Webmaster World Forum Discussion

Search Engine Roundtable

Search Engine Watch



Filed under Algorithms, Content, Content Marketing, Keywords, Panda, SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

6 responses to “Brief Conclusions from the 2011 Google Quality Raters’ Handbook

  1. Per

    Great blog you got here Jean! Seomoz talks much about how bad links attract all sorts of content based penalties, maybe it’s the bad links that attract the raters…

    Could you send me a copy of the pdf please? Thanks in advance!

    • This is true. The Rater’s Handbook contains an entire section on spamming, which addresses sneaky links and hidden text.

      My Web Writers just focuses on writing SEO content that connects with customers.

      As far as the pdf- while it’s still there, follow the Northern Star to Twitter. Go back through #SEO to October 20 to find the link to the pdf. A treasure hunt, I know; but, the most useful content I can provide.

  2. Pingback: My Web Writers’ Most Popular 2011 Content Topics and Articles | My Web Writers – Website Content & Editing Ideas

  3. Pingback: Writer Tips for the Google Penguin, Over-Optimization Penalty | My Web Writers – Website Content & Editing Ideas

  4. Sherry

    Superb blog! Do you have any helpful hints for aspiring writers?
    I’m planning to start my own blog soon but I’m a little lost on everything.

    Would you suggest starting with a free platform like WordPress or go for a
    paid option? There are so many choices out there
    that I’m totally confused .. Any ideas? Appreciate it!

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