Have you ever noticed a satisfaction survey appear during a Google search?
Known as Search Quality Rating, it’s used for quality assurance purposes, helping Google improve the quality of its search results to better meet the expectations and demands of its users. Well last week, Google released the full guidelines which dictate how this feature works.
The massive 160-page PDF covers everything from the purpose of Search Quality Rating to browser requirements, ad blocking extensions, website reputation and more. Whether you rely on Google search traffic or not, you should scan through this document to learn more about this largely unknown feature and how it works.
Of course, this isn’t the first time that Google has published information regarding its Search Quality Rating Guidelines. Back in 2013, it published a similar document revealing the technology. But as noted by the search engine giant in a blog post, a lot has changed since then: most notably, the widespread growth and use of smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices.
There are now more people who access the Internet on mobile devices than traditional desktops and laptops – a trend that industry analysts say will continue in the years to come. As a result, Google “completed a major revision” of its rater guidelines to better adapt to mobile devices. Mimi Underwood, Sr. Program Manager and Search Growth Analysis at Google, explained that mobile users perform different searches with different intent when compared to desktop users, which was the driving force behind Google’s decision to update its Search Quality Rating system.
“Developing algorithmic changes to search involves a process of experimentation. Part of that experimentation is having evaluators—people who assess the quality of Google’s search results—give us feedback on our experiments. Ratings from evaluators do not determine individual site rankings, but are used help us understand our experiments,” explained Google’s Mimi Underwood. “The evaluators base their ratings on guidelines we give them; the guidelines reflect what Google thinks search users want.”
You might be wondering what kind of impact Search Quality Ratings have on your site’s ranking. Conventional wisdom may lead you to believe that lower ratings will yield a lower ranking for your website. However, Google says this isn’t true. Instead, Search Quality Ratings are used for quality assurance purposes in its “experiments.”
Whether or not their experiments affect the search results, though, remains to be seen. With the Holiday shopping season in full swing the last thing online store owners want to see is a shake up in the SERPS, but a shake up is exactly what we might see.
Gary Illyes, a Google Webmaster Trends Analyst, has posted on Twitter that he expects the Penguin version 4.0 release to be within 2015; which doesn’t leave much time.
In any case, I recommend creating relevant, high-quality pages on your website.