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Google announces Rater Guidelines Update

On Thursday, 16th May, Google advised the SEO community that it had updated its Google Rater Guidelines, which is the first time they have updated these since July 2018


As always we are looking to stay ahead of the game in terms of news and from what we can ascertain, this update is pretty significant.

It appears clear that the guidelines have added in more detail/direction to specific areas in order to clean up and clarify what the raters are looking for, specifically, relating to the quality of sites and how users interact with the site. This is welcome news as we have spent a huge amount of time recently looking at user experience (UX).

The three main areas which we believe are important from the update are:

  • Google is looking to move away from the term EAT and has now started to refer to this as Page Quality Instead, with performance elements added. But in my opinion this is still the same thing and does play an important part, with additions in what Google is looking for when trying to return specific pages based on the user’s search query.

It has been reported that site owners have been getting confused with EAT, especially in terms of how they could or should implement it for their own sites. This has led to the possibility of some sites attempting to manipulate EAT signals to Google rather than ensuring that the UX is fully optimised. This tweak now relates to page quality and can add emphasis around performance and page quality signals but  are harder to manipulate that high quality sites.

This can be backed up by a recent Google Webmaster YouTube video in which content, metas and performance were talked about as being the top three areas to review – this would all come under page quality.

  • There has been clarification around the use of authors in attempting to show their expertise and trust worthiness. This section of the guidelines has changed a fair bit to address this from Google’s viewpoint. Previously, it was implied that all content creators should have expertise, but this has been downgraded slightly for subjects that don’t fall into Your-Money-or-Your-Life (YMYL) sites, thus still allowing for great content to be created without trying to meeting this criteria.

So authors do not have to show specific expertise for non-YMYL sites and the content that they are creating is still useful and isn’t doing any harm.

  • There is emphasis around interstitial pages within the distracting ads section, this was highlighted by Google a couple of years ago, but this will now fall in line with page quality. It is also likely to mean that sites who use those techniques in an intrusive manner may see their keyword performance/rankings suffer because of this update.

The Google Raters have clearly identified this as an area to review as it is being reported that many Rater activities are mobile only, and mobile interstitials are being used more often than not currently.

It looks as though Google is specifically targeting the app download interstitials, with the guidelines stating:

A single pop­-over Ad or interstitial page with a clear and easy­ to ­use close button is not terribly distracting, though may not be a great user experience. However, difficult to ­close Ads that follow page scrolls, or interstitial pages that require an app download, can be truly distracting and make the MC difficult to use. You can see examples of interstitial pages here.

So what does this all mean – Although there appears to be minimal changes to the Rater Guidelines, it is likely that an update is in the offering (last time Google released a Rater Guidelines update in July 2018, the Core Algorithm was updated in August with EAT), otherwise Google wouldn’t have felt the need to re-publish these guidelines.

Where as EAT was focused on content elements of the site, by Google changing EAT, to Page Quality is likely to include other elements such as speed, metas and CTAs

It is unlikely that Google will give explicit timeframes around this but it is important to ensure that your SEO strategies are still based around providing the best user experience as possible in order to avoid any major drops in visibility.

To view the full Google Rater Guidelines the please visit – http://static.googleusercontent.com/media/www.google.dk/da/da/insidesearch/howsearchworks/assets/searchqualityevaluatorguidelines.pdf


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