For the most part, Google’s search results are purely algorithmic without any human editorial touch. Except for cases where members of the search team are manually penalizing a website for violating Google’s guidelines (and recuperating if eligible), the rankings process is completely automatic.
But Google also employs humans as “Quality Raters,” people which supposed to judge and estimate if the websites Google serves on the results are relevant enough to the query. If those quality raters aren’t directly impacting the search results, what exactly are they doing and how do they fit inside the Google mechanism?
Although Google hadn’t disclosed too many details about the Quality Raters until now, their function and roles are pretty well known for anybody who’s interested in the Web search industry. The Google’s guidelines for Quality Raters have already been leaked on a few occasions in the past- in 2008 by Brian Ussery, in 2011 by PotPieGirl (AKA Jennifer Ledbetter) and in September 2012 by Razvan Gavrilas.
In spite of the fact that Google convinced these bloggers to take down the documents and the links, the “damage” was already done. As unfolded, those raters are simply evaluating the search results (relevance, spam, low-quality, etc) and offering the search team a feedback. They don’t have any direct impact over the search results and I guess they are plainly just a few more sets of human eyes reviewing the results.
So after almost everything about the Quality Raters is already public, Google’s Matt Cutts decided that it just might be better if the company will control the information itself, and published a video discussing the Quality Raters:
“It leaked a few years ago,” Cutts says, “and what someone said was the biggest surprise is that there weren’t really that many surprises.” But this time Cutts did had a little surprise as he stated that Google may release the Quality Rater guidelines publicly by itself, “we might be able to make those human Quality Rater guidelines that we make available to people at Google, available to the larger world.”
But besides that, Cutts hasn’t really revealed anything new and basically just rehashed what has already been oozed so many times before.