Somehow their internal document titled: Google Quality Raters Handbook (Confidential).pdf was found online by a blogger and now all of geekdom knows about it. While Google has spent the past couple of weeks siccing their lawyers on those that have posted it, we’ve managed to locate a copy and have spent the past few days poring over it.
In a nutshell, this PDF document was meant to be given to the people that manually review Google’s search results for everything from underwear to bomb making. Google has hired a large number of these people to give their search results a once over to verify that they are working right from a human perspective – what do you know, humans are still useful to Google 😉
I will say that the document doesn’t generate any new ideas that make me think to myself “muhahaha” (that’s an evil laugh, in case you couldn’t tell!), it does confirm some of the theories we’ve been hashing out here at PIXSYM. Here are a few of my takeways from the document:
If you’re a business, your social media profiles aren’t “vital”
We’ve seen time and time again that Google is no longer giving as much weight to social media profiles in search engine results for company names. Often times, sites like Yelp! or worse, RipoffReports will naturally outrank a Twitter or Facebook profile when doing a search for a company name (we do alot of that here when performing reputation management tasks for clients). This can be bad or good news depending on what those sites display. But, now it’s more important than ever to keep those reviews in check.
The leaked Google document confirmed what we were seeing, as they have specifically told their quality raters that search results for a company name should show vital information – and social media profiles specifically, are said to be non-vital.
Accurate local results are extremely important to Google
It’s no secret that Google has realized that there’s alot of money to be made from local businesses and as a result they have made huge strides in understanding what is called “local intent”, which means that if I search for “German Deli”, I want to find deli’s that are close by and not 800 miles away. Google wants to understand when you want to see results from local businesses vs. results on the national level.
A huge portion of the document is dedicated to teaching quality raters how to understand what a person wants when they search; and specifically when a search has local intent which speaks to the importance they place on local search. In short, they want searchers to be satisfied with the results they are given and darn-near read their mind (or at least their intent).
Money phrases need special attention
Most searches fall into one of three intent types: Action, Information & Navigation. In the document, Google refers to these three types of intent as “Do, Know, Go”:
- Action intent – Users want to accomplish a goal or engage in an activity, such as download software, play a game online, send flowers, find entertaining videos, etc. These are “do” queries: users want to do something.
- Information intent – Users want to find information. These are “know” queries: users want to know something.
- Navigation intent – Users want to navigate to a website or webpage. These are “go” queries: users want to go to a specific page.
A search with “Do” intent is ready to take action – this is a person that wants to purchase an item, download a song, etc. or what I refer to as “the money phrase”. These are people that have done their homework and are ready to buy.
While your website should also cater to those seeking information at higher levels of the sales funnel, it’s critical that your product pages and landing pages be optimized for conversions in addition to search engines. There is a delicate balance involved with ranking pages to begin with, but you have to ask yourself – would this page pass human scrutiny? And beyond that, is this page converting?
Think like a Google quality rater
Google means business when they give each quality rater a 125 page manual and instructs them to take a virtual sledgehammer to their search results pages. Understanding what Google wants is important, whether you are practicing “white hat” (by the book) SEO, “black hat” (exploitative) SEO or somewhere in between. What it all boils down to is making sure that your pages are made for humans and not just search engine robots so that when a quality rater finds your website in the search results it doesn’t get the axe.