Quality Evaluator Guidelines — What has changed?

Guideline Change Log

Summarized below, are the changes from the past two years (October 2018 — October 2020).

Search Quality Rater

Showing more trust in the algorithm over quality raters. It is important you focus on E.A.T. (Expertise Authoritativeness Trust) and YMYL (Your Money or Your Life).


Added trust in Google’s security software for identifying low quality content and malicious code.

Successful Page Quality rater

Google’s search quality is canvasing every day users, not subject matter experts. Emphasizing you need to identify the purpose of the page for every day users.

Malware warning

They trust the security software, but don’t be stupid


Bigger move to mobile

Links to landing pages

Intuitive + user experience is higher on the list

Guidance note

Evaluator guidelines places more emphasis on the first touch a user gets. So keep your main content relevant.

The Relationship between Page Quality and Needs Met

Relationship between Page Quality and Needs Met has been moved up from spot 15 to 14, and expanded upon.


hreflang tags are widely trusted


Focus on helping the user + experience

15.4.2 Needs Met Rating for Foreign Language Results

Again, Google is getting better at sorting languages in the SERPs for search quality rating guidelines.

Did Not Load Flag

Less of a penalty, more of not indexing useless pages.

Certificate acceptance request

This could be a reaction to battle anti-semitic Google image search results

Added → Rating Dictionary and Encyclopedia Results for Different Queries

Newly added, Dictionary + Encyclopedia results

PDFs for download:

Search Quality Rating Guideline PDFs 2020 / 2019

October 2020

  • Added note to clarify that ratings do not directly impact order of search results
  • Emphasized ‘The Role of Examples in these Guidelines’ as an independent
    section in the introduction
  • Added clarification that Special Content Result Blocks may have links to landing pages; added illustrative example
  • Updated guidance on how to rate pages with malware warnings and when to
    assign the Did Not Load flag; added illustrative examples
  • Changed the order of Rating Flags section and Relationship between Page Quality and Needs Met section for clarity
  • Added ‘Rating Dictionary and Encyclopedia Results for Different Queries’:
    Emphasizes the importance of understanding the user intent and query for Needs Met rating; added illustrative examples
  • Minor changes throughout (updated examples and explanations for consistency; simplified language regarding raters representing people in their locale; fixed typos; etc.)

December 2019

  • Added ‘Introduction to Search Quality Rating’: Describes the overall search user experience and the purpose of search quality rating
  • Added definitions and clarifications to explain key search concepts
  • Minor changes throughout (removed obsolete QR code; revised language for
    consistency across sections; fixed typos; etc.)

September 2019

  • Revised ‘Your Money or Your Life (YMYL)’ definition to include more granular subcategories; modified YMYL labels in Page Quality examples to align with new definition
  • Added guidance on distinctions between different types of content found on websites
  • Emphasized that original content may provide justification for Highest Page Quality ratings and added illustrative example; updated existing PQ example ratings and explanations accordingly
  • Minor changes throughout (removed outdated examples; removed rating platform dependency on any particular mobile OS type; revised language for consistency across sections; etc.)

May 2019

  • Renamed E-A-T rating slider to Page Quality (PQ) slider to emphasize more holistic concept of quality; updated PQ rating guidance and examples for consistency and clarity accordingly
  • Minor language and screenshot updates to reflect program changes and technical changes in rating platform interface

Have you read the Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines? I’d love to hear your insights.



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