Google Updates Quality Rater Guidelines

Google has rolled out another update in their quality rater guidelines on August 3, 2017. This is the third update this year following major update to deal with Fake News, Dubious Claims & Clickbait. The new update deals with conspiracy theories and non-English results. Some of the changes made in the guidelines include small grammatical changes, change of examples, and inclusion of new instructions. Let’s get down to business and discuss these changes one by one:

Lowest Quality Pages

Google is pursuing its efforts against fake news and conspiracy theories. While there is no way to eliminate such pages from the internet, Google is trying its best to make sure you get real news and accurate information as a result of your queries.

Pages that present conspiracy theories as facts are to be rated as lowest quality pages. This does not include conspiracy theory websites and blogs that present conspiracy theories as conspiracy theories.

Needs Met Ratings

Previously, porn ads on non-porn websites were frowned upon. However, this update softens Google’s stance on such ads. The section about porn ads being shown on on-porn sites has been removed. This may be due to the fact that most of these ads are influenced by user behavior.

Foreign Language Flags

Task language and user location are now defined as locale in the ratings guide. This update addressed a number of issues pertaining to pages being flag as foreign language and unhelpful results.

The example in the foreign language flag section was changed from Ukraine/Russia to Catalan/Spanish. The rules remain the same – the foreign language flag should not be assigned to pages that are in a language commonly spoken in a region. The raters have also been advised to consider the fact that a number of languages may be spoken in a region, and that for any specific locale, the search query can contain words in more than one language.

Furthermore, the rules about flagging foreign language pages remain more or less the same, only the language in the section addressing said issue was altered slightly. Foreign landing pages will fulfill the ‘Needs Met’ criteria if the search query specifically asks for them.

As for queries from non-English speaking locales that include English words and names, the rater is allowed to use their discretion to assign a suitable rating. Raters have also been provided clear instructions that in non-English locales, they are to assume that the user requires results in task language unless they ask for results in English or any another language specifically.

Going back to the Catalan/Spanish example, the guidelines say that since most Catalan speakers also speak Spanish, it is to be assumed that Spanish results are helpful in a Catalan locale. However, in regions where one language dominates all others, for example Hindi in India, it is to be assumed that only Hindi pages are helpful.

In some cases, users may not ask for results in English specifically, but their queries will require English results. For example, the user may be looking for information on the latest iPhone, and Apple’s official website will be a better result for them instead of local websites selling the same product. Google has added clear instructions for raters in this regard. Queries about international organizations, technical information about products, scientific formula are all included in queries where results in English will be deemed helpful.

To summarize, this update to the guidelines will make a dramatic difference in site ratings in non-English locales around the world, and will continue the ongoing war between search engines and fake news. View and download the the new search quality raters guidelines pdf here.

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