The Closest We’ll Get to the Google Rules – Rater Guidelines

Google Discloses Their Rules with the Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines

In November of 2015, Google quietly made available a PDF downloadable document called Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines. Folks, this is the closest thing we have ever had to a step by step guideline to what Google thinks is important.

google search quality evaluator


Google even offers a scale for it’s raters to use:

google quality rater scale


We are proud to say that not only do these guidelines validate what we wrote in Greg’s first book in 2008, but our latest book here aligns with Google’s philosophy here as well!

Click here for Google’s Philosophy and you will see #1 is “Focus on the user and all else will follow”

Greg Has Always Stressed White Hat SEO and…

“Provide good content that your visitors will enjoy enough to stick around, share with their friends – and come back for more.”

Below are some points that emphasise this – taken straight from Google itself:

The Guidelines primarily cover Page Quality (PQ) rating and Needs Met (NM).

Websites and pages should be created to help users. Websites and pages which are created with intent to harm users, deceive users, or make money with no attempt to help users, will receive a very low PQ rating.

The goal of Page Quality rating is to determine how well a page achieves its purpose.

The top three most important Page Quality considerations are:

  1. Quality and quantity of Main Content. Examine the Main Content carefully. Given the purpose of the page, evaluate the quality and quantity of Main Content.
  2. Level of Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (E-A-T) of the page and the website. The level of E-A-T is extremely important for YMYL pages.
  3. Reputation of the website. The reputation of a website is very important when the website demands a high level of trust. (think e commerce sites)

Common helpful page purposes include (but are not limited to):

  • To share information about a topic.
  • To share personal or social information.
  • To share pictures, videos, or other forms of media.
  • To express an opinion or point of view.
  • To entertain.
  • To sell products or services.
  • To allow users to post questions for other users to answer.
  • To allow users to share files or to download software.

Your Money or Your Life (YMYL) Pages

The Guidelines contain many other great nuggets of information. However the guidelines stress careful attention to what Google refers to as “Your Money Your Life”

“Some types of pages could potentially impact the future happiness, health, or wealth of users. We call such pages “Your Money or Your Life” pages, or YMYL. The following are YMYL pages:

  • Shopping or financial transaction pages: webpages which allow users to make purchases, transfer money, pay bills, etc. online (such as online stores and online banking pages).
  • Financial information pages: webpages which provide advice or information about investments, taxes, retirement planning, home purchase, paying for college, buying insurance, etc.
  • Medical information pages: webpages which provide advice or information about health, drugs, specific diseases or conditions, mental health, nutrition, etc.
  • Legal information pages: webpages which provide legal advice or information on topics such as divorce, child custody, creating a will, becoming a citizen, etc.
  • Other: there are many other topics which you may consider YMYL, such as child adoption, car safety information, etc. Please use your judgment.

We have very high Page Quality rating standards for YMYL pages because low quality YMYL pages could potentially negatively impact users’ happiness, health, or wealth.

Ecommerce Websites

If you run an ecommerce website, you might want to pay attention to Google’s specific instructions regarding needing full contact information – Remember a shopping site is a ‘Your Money Your Life” website:

“For shopping websites, we’ll ask you to do some special checks. Look for contact information—including the store’s policies on payment, exchanges, and returns. Sometimes this information is listed under “customer service.”

Fresh Content

And of course we have always been big fans of “Fresh Content”

“How can you tell that a website is being maintained and cared for? Poke around: Links should work, images should load, content should be added and updated over time, etc.”

Small Businesses Rejoice!

“We have very different standards for pages on large, professionally-produced business websites than we have for small amateur, hobbyist, or personal websites. The type of page design and level of professionalism we expect for a large online store is very different than what we might expect for a small local business website.”

Special Considerations for Mobile Users

Google addresses a whole list of guidelines especially for mobile users – Yes Sir –  They’ve been warning us to get mobile friendly for years now.  Is your website mobile friendly? Google wants you to check it here:

“Rating Using the Needs Met Scale
There are many different kinds of queries and results, but the process of rating is the same: Needs Met rating tasks ask you to focus on mobile user needs and think about how helpful and satisfying the result is for the mobile users.

This is what the Needs Met rating slider looks like:”

google quality raters mobile guidelines scale



Remember that websites and pages should be created to be helpful for users.

“Important: Websites and pages which are created to harm users, deceive users, or only make money with no attempt to help users should be rated Lowest.”
Here is a checklist of types of pages or websites which should always receive the Lowest rating:

  • Harmful or malicious pages or websites.
  • True lack of purpose pages or websites.
  • Deceptive pages or websites.
  • Pages or websites which are created to make money with little to no attempt to help users.
  • Pages with extremely low or lowest quality MC.
  • Pages on “Your Money or Your Life” websites with completely inadequate or no website information.
  • Pages on abandoned, hacked, or defaced websites.
  • Pages or websites created with no expertise or pages which are highly untrustworthy, unreliable, unauthoritative, inaccurate, or misleading.
  • Websites which have extremely negative or malicious reputationsDownload your copy of Google’s Search Quality Rater’s Guidelines here