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Download the ‘Leaked’ 2012 Google Quality Rater’s Handbook

Over the past couple of days, Google’s latest ‘Quality Rater’s Handbook’ has been leaked online. The handbook gives full information on the rating criteria of websites used by Google’s human raters. There hasn’t been a leak of this kind of data since back at the start of early 2011, when the original 125 page document was released on potpiegirl.com. From an SEO point of view, this can be invaluable in understanding the kind of criteria that Google uses to judge the relevance of search results.

Google Quality Raters Handbook 2012

Some of the guidelines that Google has given (as shown above) show how their human raters are asked to judge page quality. They look at factors such as the layout of the page, the quality of the content, spammy links, etc. The screenshot below shows how Google explains to human raters what they should look for in terms of hidden links, and the document goes into further detail around the likes of keyword stuffing in content and URLs, ‘sneaky redirects’ and cloaking.

Google search quality guidelines 2012

The leaked Google quality guidelines also explain the criteria in which the different pages’ content quality is judged. Google gives the following explanation of what is deemed a ‘high quality page’:

Highest quality pages are highly satisfying to users. Highest quality pages have a large amount of very high quality content, very helpful supplementary content, and use very good webpage layout. The author(s) of the content on Highest quality pages should have a very high level of expertise in the subject.

In addition, Highest quality pages are often found on websites that have a very good reputation from experts in the topic (even if average users or raters are unaware of the site or its reputation). Reputation checks are an important part of identifying Highest quality pages.

  • Highest quality pages have an obvious purpose and they achieve that purpose very well. 
  • The Main Content of Highest quality pages is created by people with a high level of expertise in the topic. 
  • Highest quality pages have a very satisfying amount of Main Content. 
  • The page layout on Highest quality pages makes the Main Content immediately visible (“front and center”). 
  • The space on Highest quality pages is used well. 
  • The Supplementary Content on Highest quality pages is helpful and contributes to a very satisfying user experience. 
  • Highest quality pages usually have near professional quality content, even though ordinary individuals may create the content. 
  • Highest quality pages frequently appear on high quality websites with very positive reputations for their purpose or topic, such as:
    o Award winning newspaper sites for news
    o Authoritative sites for medical information
    o Well-known “go-to” recipe sites for recipes
    o Highly regarded and trusted shopping sites
There are many different areas that the 161 document covers, including a section around ‘thin affiliates’ which is particularly useful to look at if you run an e-commerce website. You can download the full PDF document here.
For more information on the document, check out Search Engine Land’s latest blog post.
Qasim Majid About the author
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This is just what I thought that Google would be looking for in a high quality website, so there is no surprise to me in this, and it's what I am working towards.

11 years ago

Hi Wolfgang, yes we agree that a lot of the information is what we should be looking for anyway. One of the most interesting parts of the guidelines from our point of view was actually understanding the different factors that the 'human raters' used.

For example, looking at the use of affiliate logos to determine the validity of a website. It would be interesting to know how much weight is placed toward the human rater's opinions…

11 years ago

this is the same as last years – nothing new.

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