Yesterday, Google announced the release of new “rater” guidelines to reflect some of the major changes to search that have occurred over the past few years. As Mimi Underwood, Senior Program Manager at Google, explained:
In 2013, we published our human rating guidelines to provide transparency on how Google works and to help webmasters understand what Google looks for in web pages. Since that time, a lot has changed: notably, more people have smartphones than ever before and more searches are done on mobile devices today than on computers.
We often make changes to the guidelines as our understanding of what users wants evolves, but we haven’t shared an update publicly since then. However, we recently completed a major revision of our rater guidelines to adapt to this mobile world, recognizing that people use search differently when they carry internet-connected devices with them all the time.
These guidelines, which are detailed in a 160-page document, cover a number of aspects and components, some of the major points of which we’ll point out below.
What the New Guidelines Cover
The primary aspects of Google’s new guidelines focus on:
- Rating Page Quality (PQ) – Appropriately rating PQ will involve “exploration of the landing page and the website associated with the URL,” the Guidelines explain. While there are specific methods provided for identifying “main” content versus “supplementary” content, the Guidelines also provide details regarding “outside, independent” information that is used to evaluate page quality.
- Understanding mobile user needs – Providing some important insight into mobile users expectations and experience, this part of the Guidelines provides an in-depth explanatino about the mobile search query process, as well as how mobile queries are different from desktop queries and how mobile queries change with time.
- Using “Needs Met” (NM) guidelines – With this assessment, the task is to focus on “mobile user needs and think about how helpful and satisfying the result is for the mobile users.” As part of this, Google details what constitutes “fully met” needs versus “high” or “moderately” met needs. There are also specifics regarding illegal images, difficult user experiences and failures of pages to load.
- Using the “Evaluation Platform” (EP) – This aspect of the Guidelines concentrates on explaining how different types of reports can be made via the EP.
While Google has noted that it plans on continue to update these Guidelines as search evolves, it has also explained that, “We won’t be updating the public document with every change, but we will try to publish big changes to the guidelines periodically…we want Google to continue giving users the answers they’re looking for—fast!”
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