Google Quality Raters Can’t Cause Site To Drop In Rankings

Pot Pie Girl has been busy the past couple months, first by publishing the Google quality raters guidelines and then by analyzing the forums to see how they rate things.

One thing she said was that she believed these quality raters can raise a red flag at Google and lead to a downgrade in your site’s rankings. Truth is, no it won’t.

Google’s Matt Cutts debunked the “misconception” yesterday by leaving a comment:

Hi, I need to dispel a misconception in this post. In the section “Can ONE Quality Rater Change the Ranking of a Url?” Scott Huffman is quoted saying that our search quality raters do not directly affect our rankings. That’s correct.

PotPieGirl goes on to speculate: “However, I do believe that if a certain percentage of raters mark one url as spam or non-relevant, that it does throw up some type of flag in the system that can cause something to happen to that url. Now I naturally do not KNOW this, but I get that sneaky feeling.”

That feeling is unfounded. Even if multiple search quality raters mark something as spam or non-relevant, that doesn’t affect a site’s rankings or throw up a flag in the url that would affect that url.

So there you have it, these quality raters have no say in if your site should rank well in Google or not.

Related Stories:

Related Topics: Channel: SEO | Google: Search Quality Raters | Google: SEO | Top News


About The Author: is Search Engine Land's News Editor and owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics. Barry's personal blog is named Cartoon Barry and he can be followed on Twitter here. For more background information on Barry, see his full bio over here.

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  • Dustin Woodard

    So quality raters affect the measuring stick, which indirectly affects not just one site, but all sites.

  • Joe Hall

    If they can’t affect a site/URL’s rankings, then why do they exist? Does Google employ quality raters for shits and giggles?

  • Brian LaFrance

    Matt’s probably not lying. That’s not what causes the drop. It’s the response of his team to those reports that causes the drop :)

  • Kevin Spence

    There are a lot of possibilities. One is that quality raters really aren’t measuring the quality of individual sites (even though that’s how it looks on the surface). Instead, maybe, they’re measuring the quality of Google’s search product as a whole.

    Maybe Google doesn’t do a very good job of returning relevant results in particular vertical. How would they know? Well, maybe they’re looking for correlation between what they return for a particular query and what the quality raters mark as highly relevant or spam. Ideally, their rankings would match up very well with the quality raters rankings. And if they don’t, they probably need to make some changes.

    There are other possibilities as well, but of the ones I’ve run through my head, this is the most likely.

  • Joe Hall


    If you read the quality rater’s guidelines its specific to URLs, not SERPs.

  • Kevin Spence

    Right. That’s how it works on the quality rater’s end, and that’s what their job is. But that doesn’t mean that that’s what Google is actually measuring.

    Ultimately, Google wants to know if a particular page is relevant for a particular query. One reason that they might want to know that is so they can take that crowdsourced relevancy data and map it against the results they’re returning against that query. Are they showing content that quality raters marked as relevant? Or are they showing spam?

    It could be a very useful measure of what they’re doing right or wrong from a SERPs point of view.

  • A.T.

    @Joe Hall has a point. The rater’s specifically on tune with the URLs and not the SERPs. Though in some point the reason behind why there’s a rater is to measure how a particular page is relevant to search query returns. This is a big puzzle to me. Let me think and I’ll comment again after I got some research.

  • Clif

    Perhaps if enough quality raters give a URL negative ratings there is no automatic system in place that reduces ranking based on a certain percentage of negative ratings, but the URL is flagged for further human review by higher level Google reviewers to make a final judgement call.

    Obviously the notion of a quality rater suggest that their task would indeed have impact, at least in some part, or in an internally influential way, on a URL’s ranking in the Google serps.

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