Hopefully, you already know that Google algorithm updates can make or break your site’s search engine rankings. But did you know Google has 10,000 human “search quality raters” worldwide?


What are Search Quality Raters?


Search Quality Raters take search results for a test drive by performing actual, real searches, and then rate the quality of the top results.These raters follow a strict set of Google guidelines to come up with their ratings. These guidelines are more than 150 pages long, and are frequently updated.


The overarching goal of the raters is to help discern between quality and low-quality sites, which are, in Google’s own words, “pages or websites which are created to make money with little to no attempt to help users.”


What does this mean for you?


For affiliate marketers, this just reinforces the idea that if you want to avoid being penalized when Google updates its search algorithm, be sure to provide helpful content to your readers. Ad-heavy websites or those sites that feature low quality content are often the target of Google’s algorithm shifts. After one algorithm update, sites reported drops in traffic of 50% - 90% on affiliate sites that prioritized SEO over user experience.


It’s important to note that quality raters don’t directly affect search engine rankings. It’s not their job to banish sites to the end of the search results or to ban them completely. And they have absolutely no direct influence on how well a particular site ranks in Google. What their work does, however, is help Google improve its algorithms. While their work may have an effect over time on the sites identified as low quality, it will also affect those low-quality sites not reviewed by raters.


All publishers should know about Google Quality Raters and the guidelines that they follow when evaluating search results. It gives you a fascinating look at how Google’s algorithm updates work, and how the evolution of both technology and sociology alike affects SEO.