You might not know, but alongside its normal crawling, indexing and automatic algortihms which rank search results and display pages based on user queries, Google also uses human search quality testers.
These testers (of which there are thousands) will examine different types of search queries and webpages and assign different qualities to them.
For those of you interested in SEO, it's definitely worth looking into, and Google have released their 'Search Quality Guidelines.'
It's a fairly hefty document, but definitely worth your time; although human ratings don't impact search results directly, Google does use feedback from these raters to tweak their automatic ranking algorithms. Understanding what the human raters are looking for and creating hubs that meet those needs will almost certainly mean that the algorithms will look more favourably on your writing as well, driving more traffic to your hubs as a result.
You can see the document here:
http://static.googleusercontent.com/ext … elines.pdf
LOL! It must be a couple of years since that document was first leaked, so it amuses me that Google has now "released" for public consumption something that has been widely available for ages!
I was recruited from Google Answers into doing this work quite a long time ago. It used to pay quite well; several hundred dollars a month for a couple of hours work most days. After a two or so years, I was glad to stop, when I found more profitable activities, as it is intensely boring work.
I distrust any such information from the Big G simply because of their proclivity to be so wrong about which articles they place at the top of their search results. I assume this is why HP is also choosing to dumb down their systems, simply to fall in lock-step with them. This not bode well for the future of the internet as far as it being an educational tool of the future.
Randy, that's the core document used by their own staff to test and refine Google's algorithm. It's not how the algorithm WORKS, but how they're trying to MAKE it work.
It's the set of guidelines they use to come up with a dataset of, "here's what we think the algorithm should do with these sites," then it's the programmers' job to make the algorithm mimic the quality raters' judgment as closely as possible.
So even if the algorithm doesn't always succeed, this is exactly what it's working towards. This is the holy grail answering "what, exactly, does Google want?" Forget pontificating by Matt Cutts or SMX interviews with Amit Singh -- this is it. It tends to make a heck of a lot more sense to me than the vague pronouncements and platitudes we hear from Google spokespundits.
I find it interesting that they've finally released these guidelines to the public voluntarily. I got in a certain amount of trouble for helping leak the 2011 guidelines, the first that had been seen for several years, which a Google Quality Rater had left lying around on Amazon's cloud in a public folder. Until now, Google has never released them and quickly taken steps (as it did then) to get them taken down when anyone posted them on the web. (After they were taken down, I created a hub summarizing the essentials -- bad GG.)
It was kind of silly, since it doesn't actually give away how the algorithm works, just what it's aiming for. i'm glad they've finally dispensed with treating it as top secret and released it for people to pore over. It is, after all, basically a manifesto on the subject of quality content.
I get that, Greekgeek. The problem I see is they are pitting good content against results which now make them money despite the lack of quality--the real definition of the word, not HP's--of the top articles. It's now simply money versus quality as I see it. As Paul pointed out, the human rater's assessments do not impact search results directly. And of course, we have no way of knowing what qualities those human raters favor or disfavor in the top results. They be no better than those here who have no idea what the term "quality" means.
Still, not very encouraging.
'And of course, we have no way of knowing what qualities those human raters favor or disfavor in the top results.'
The guidelines make it clear what they are looking for. For the most part it is, the degree of relevance of the page to the search query that matters. The highest rating should go to comprehensive, up-to-date and engaging coverage of a topic from an authoritative site, according to the doc.
With affiliate pages they expect the writer to have worked hard to come up with info that is relevant for a potential buyer but not otherwise easily available.
It does not give much scope for conspiracy theorists.
I didn't catch anything about being up to date, except a brief comment concerning current events. Was there more?
I don't think Randy meant google's work, though - just HP's, and those guidelines are freely available as well as being posted in a more general manner in several locations in the forums by an MTurker.
I mentioned nothing at all about "conspiracy theories," Will. Besides, it takes 3 entities for it to qualify as a conspiracy theory. Try and remember this next time. My point was that HP is endeavoring to guess what Google wants, with Google not knowing themselves how to get it. What Google says they want is not necessarily what they seem to get. But then, they to may have their own form of HubSpeak also.
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