Chapter 2 - Google’s Search Quality Raters & EAT - Is your Content king?

We’ve already seen that Google is hell-bent on providing the very best answer or answers to a user’s query.

This is evident in the SERPs with the recent proliferation of new Universal SERP features that seek to give the user a quick answer to their query. Here’s just a selection – some of which you can optimise to rank for and some you cannot;


This means not only do you need to produce good quality content that answers users’ questions, but your on-page content needs to be in the right format (e.g. Some results return a Featured Video at the top of the page – more often than not set at the exact point in the video that answers your question) and structured in the right way to give it a chance to occupy some of these Universal SERP features and not just focus on the organic rankings.

So, what constitutes high, quality content? Surely, this could be somewhat subjective?

Well arguably it might be subjective. But ultimately, Google has to train its algorithms to rank the most useful pages higher and this means it looks for signals to help it determine that a particular page is more suitable an answer for a given query than another.

Google uses an army of people to help it fine tune its algorithms. They are freelancers working from home across the world in multiple languages and they have a specific set of guidelines (Google Search Quality Rater’s Guidelines) that they use as a reference to complete the tasks that are assigned to them. These tasks are designed to help them rate websites and pages on areas such as Page Quality and Needs Met for mobile users.

Page Quality Rating


Laurence O’Toole

Authoritas CEO

Hopefully, Laurence needs no introduction. He’s the CEO and founder of Authoritas and has been actively involved in the SEO market since hiring his first SEO agency about 20 years’ ago. He has the grey hair and scars to prove it.

Watch our Tea Time SEO session here:










Needs Met Rating

Needs Met rating tasks ask raters to focus on mobile user needs and determine how helpful and satisfying the result is for mobile users. If anything this shows the focus Google has on mobile and you should think mobile-first too.

Fails to Meet (FailsM)

Slightly Meets (SM)

Moderately Meets (MM)

Highly Meets (HM)

Fully Meets (FullyM)

Please note, these individuals are not training the algorithm as such, nor can a poor or good rating on your site affect your rankings. They are merely providing Google with some measurable feedback on the effectiveness of the experiments it is running that might relate to Google Search experiments in production or future ones that they are currently assessing.

Google has been pushing webmasters to produce good quality content for a long time and have introduced algorithmic changes that make old, popular SEO techniques like article spinning defunct. Google released a condensed version of their guidelines back in 2013 and then released the full version in 2015. The latest version runs to more than 160 pages and has many good and bad real-world examples of SERP results and how to rate ranking pages and its rationale behind this.

If ever there was an essential reading list for SEOs then this would be on it!

Tip #1.  Anyone working on the content on your site should have some training on this.

The guidelines are where we first heard about ‘Your Money or Your Life’ pages (YMYL). Google places great importance on these sites as they can impact someone’s life, e.g. They are about medical, health and financial topics, such as financial transaction pages within ecommerce sites.

These sites especially should have EAT – Expertise, Authority and Trust.

The site should show why those who are giving the recommendations on the YMYL pages have the expertise (i.e. Display their credentials), the authority (i.e. They are well known in the industry) and they can be trusted (i.e. Reviews, citations from other industry resources).

The complete Search Quality Guide covers assessing the quality of the website, but here we’re just focused on a specific page and these are the main factors that they consider when assessing the overall page quality.

  1. The Purpose of the Page
  2. Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness
  3. Main Content (MC) Quality and Amount
  4. Website Information/information about who is responsible for the MC
  5. Website Reputation/reputation about who is responsible for the MC


Tip #2 – So why not do your own internal (or even external anonymised testing) to see how your key money pages compare to your competitors on the Page Quality and Needs Met scales.  Perhaps, this might give you some useful insights into discernable differences between your pages and higher ranking competitors and suggestions of changes you can make to your page to improve the user experience.


Tip #3 – If you really want to get a feel for what Google is looking for then sign-up to become a Google Search Quality Evaluator yourself.  Google has recruited in the past through companies like Appen and Lionbridge.  Alternatively, the low-cost online Search Quality Evaluator courses run by a former Search Quality Rater give you a good sense of what it is like to evaluate websites.


Tip #4 – Don’t just think about producing the content.  Do your keyword research – which keywords generate Featured Videos, which keywords generate Featured Snippets and are they in a table, list or paragraph format?  Professionally produced content that’s the right combination of content types or formats, in the layout Google favours (e.g. Articles or category pages) all combine to produce great content.

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