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How Does Google Rate its Search Results?

Answer: They use human evaluators

On November 19, 2015 Google officially released to the public their updated Human Evaluator Guidelines for Rating Search Results.





Human Evaluation

Google engage evaluators to rate search results every time they make algorithmic changes as part of their effort to improve the quality of search results. After all, more specific search results that give us the answers we are looking for, as fast as possible, is what we all want.
When rating search results for given queries, evaluators are tasked to think like an ordinary user. They must think with the language, locale, and user intent in mind.
It is apparent that Google is further attempting to understand the ‘intent’ behind searches rather than just the ‘words’ when returning the appropriate search results. This evolution started with the Hummingbird algorithm update in 2013 which totally revamped how Google interpreted search phrases.

Hummingbird introduced the concept of semantics, or meaning.

Semantic search is the concept of delivering better search results by focusing on the underlying – but real meaning – of a search phrase. Essentially, semantic search focuses on determining what a user really means, rather than a string of keywords, and then delivering the best results.

Semantic Search Results

For example, if a user searches for the term “weather”, it’s much more likely that they are looking for a local weather report, not an explanation of meteorology.
It makes sense that if search results get poor ratings for a particular set of queries, Google tweaks or refines their algorithms for that set of queries.




The last time Google publicly shared their human rating guidelines was in 2013. This latest release is a full version of their guidelines with specific updates to adapt to the growing use of mobile.

The guidelines essentially give us a peek into what Google thinks search users want. It also gives us an understanding on how to align an online marketing strategy and methodology – particularly SEO – with Google.


Key takeaways from the guidelines:


1. The purpose of each of your webpages must be clear with your Main Content (MC) aligned with that purpose.

2. Pages that could potentially impact the future happiness, health, or wealth of users, (such as pages of online stores, online banking, as well as financial, medical, legal, and safety information pages) have very high Page Quality rating standards because pages with low quality could have negative impact to users’ happiness, health, or wealth.

3. Web pages must be maintained with updated and new content.

4. The reputation of your website and business matters. Independent, credible sources of reputation information, as well as customer reviews are considered in grading your website’s and business’ reputation.

5. High Quality Rating for a page is influenced by the following criteria:

  • A satisfying amount of high quality MC.
  • Demonstration of a high level of Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (E-A-T).
  • Positive Reputation. According to Google: While a page can merit the High Rating with no reputation, the High Rating cannot be used for any website that has a convincing negative reputation.
  • A very positive reputation can be a reason for using the High Rating for an otherwise Medium page.
  • A satisfying amount of website information, such as ‘About Us’ and ‘Contact Information’.
  • Supplementary Content (SC) which contributes to a satisfying user experience on the page and website.
  • Functional page design
  • A modern, mobile responsive, and well-maintained website.


At Big Boom Marketing we are well aware of these guidelines and guide our SEO efforts in order to get the best results for the end client.

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Neil Willis

Internet Marketing Consultant at Big Boom Marketing
Founder of Big Boom Marketing, speaker, mentor, published author. Spends life driving businesses to succeed online. "Bring Inspiration, Seek Innovation, Exceed Expectation"

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