Google Updates Quality Rater Guidelines

quality rater guidelines

Google has updated its Quality Rater Guidelines, instructions that determine the quality of websites according to the search engine. The biggest changes happened to E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, or Trustworthiness) and YMYL (Your Money, Your Life). Here’s what Google changed and how these changes could affect your search experience. 

Digging into Recent E-A-T Updates

In its most recent update to its Quality Rater Guidelines, Google has redone its previous definition of what is a low-quality page. Google’s update got rid of a statement that suggested a page could be deemed low-quality based on a page creator’s lack of expertise for the page’s intent.

Instead, Google updated its guidelines to focus on solely the topic and purpose of the page. In this revised version, content creators don’t have to share personal details for non-specialized, everyday topics. While up to interpretation, Google’s wording also indicates that it will allow low-quality pages to exist on otherwise authoritative websites.

How E-A-T Feeds into YMYL

The second big change Google introduced was Quality Rater Guidelines’ interaction with YMYL (Your Money, Your Life). Again, the page topic was the main indicator (as with E-A-T), with interplay between the two (E-A-T and YMYL). Google reiterated that a page’s E-A-T score depended on a page’s topic and purpose. Per Google, if a page discusses YMYL topics to the detriment of users, E-A-T becomes highly important (above all else). This is true even if the website has a favorable reputation; if a risk of significant harm is present, the page must be rated low-quality. 

Google’s Quality Rater Guidelines update sets a new precedent. To Google, even demonstrably authoritative or expert websites can offer content harmful to users. This means even if content is on an otherwise trustworthy or authoritative  website, Google will still rate the page low quality if the content is harmful, dishonest, misleading, or spam.

Changes to Your Money, Your Life

A big change to Google’s Quality Rater Guidelines happened to YMYL or Your Money, Your Life. Google not only got rid of the categories that previously represented YMYL: They changed its definition to be determined by its potential to be harmful to users. For Google, topics deemed especially harmful have the capacity to negatively influence personal health, financial independence, safety, and societal welfare. 

In the update, Google goes on to discuss who can be harmed by the YMYL content, including users, user social circles, groups of people, and even society at large. Google seems to tease out YMYL topics into two branches: inherently hazardous (i.e. violent extremism) and harmful as it relates to misinformation or misuse. Quality raters will now be tasked with discerning YMYL as it relates to four kinds of harm: financial security, health or safety, society, and other.

What Updates to Google’s Quality Rater Guidelines Means for You

The biggest takeaway from these updates is how E-A-T relates to YMYL topics. It will become the biggest factor for raters to take into account going forward.

For most topics, Google feels everyday expertise is completely fine. YMYL is no longer associated with business or content categories, but the extent content can be harmful to users. 

If all this goes over your head or leaves you with more questions than answers, no need to fret. You can speak with one of our SEO experts to understand this topic more in-depth. Contact Uptick Marketing for questions regarding your search engine optimization, content quality, and more.