Google Updates Quality Raters Guide [Sep 2019]: News, Journalism & Trust

TJ Kelly

Google updated their Quality Raters Guide again, this time in September of 2019.

Here’s an in-depth look at all the changes, including a downloadable comparison PDF.

It takes a while to digest and document all the updates—it’s a long PDF! But the updates all seem to be about news, journalism, and trust.

There are more examples and clarifications added to help Google’s Evaluators determine quality of news and journalism websites than any other industry.

Google seems to be tackling the “fake news” thing head-on!

Newspaper mentions have been added several times in the first 25 pages or so, including new examples of reputation criteria—

Pulitzer Prize (was already in there), George Polk Award, Peabody Award, James Beard Award, Overseas Press Club Award…

…just to name a few.

Google Quality Raters Guide: YMYL Topics.Glenn Gabe gets credit for pointing out that § 2.3 Your Money or Your Life (YMYL) Pages renamed references from “pages” to “topics.”

Part and parcel of what the SEO industry has been saying for years—don’t focus on keywords; focus on topics.

Let’s dive in.


1. News vs. Government YMYL

Before:

Google Quality Raters Guide, Sep 2019 Update 1 - News Govt YMYL: Old.

2.3 Your Money or Your Life (YMYL) Pages

Some types of pages could potentially impact the future happiness, health, financial stability, or safety of users. We call such pages “Your Money or Your Life” pages, or YMYL. The following are examples of YMYL pages:

  • News articles or public/official information pages important for having an informed citizenry: webpages that include information about local/state/national government processes, policies, people, and laws; disaster response services; government programs and social services; news about important topics such as international events, business, politics, science, and technology; etc. Please use your judgment and knowledge of your locale. Keep in mind that not all news articles are necessarily considered YMYL.

After:

Google Quality Raters Guide, Sep 2019 Update 1 - News Govt YMYL: New.

2.3 Your Money or Your Life (YMYL) Pages

Some types of pages or topics could potentially impact a person’s future happiness, health, financial stability, or safety. We call such pages “Your Money or Your Life” pages, or YMYL. The following are examples of YMYL topics:

  • News and current events: news about important topics such as international events, business, politics, science, technology, etc. Keep in mind that not all news articles are necessarily considered YMYL (e.g., sports, entertainment, and everyday lifestyle topics are generally not YMYL). Please use your judgment and knowledge of your locale.
  • Civics, government, and law: information important to maintaining an informed citizenry, such as information about voting, government agencies, public institutions, social services, and legal issues (e.g., divorce, child custody, adoption, creating a will, etc.).

2. Syndicated Content Quality

Before:

Google Quality Raters Guide, Sep 2019 Update 2 - Syndicated Content Quality: Old.

2.5.2 Finding Who is Responsible for the Website and Who Created the Content on the Page

Finally, there are some websites that show licensed or syndicated content. This means that the website has paid money or has some business relationship with the creator of the content. In these cases, we will consider the website itself to be responsible for the licensed or syndicated content, even if it wasn’t created by the website.

After:

Google Quality Raters Guide, Sep 2019 Update 2 - Syndicated Content Quality: New.

2.5.2 Finding Who is Responsible for the Website and Who Created the Content on the Page

Finally, there are some websites that show licensed or syndicated content. This means that the website has paid money or has some business relationship with the creator of the content. In these cases, we will consider the website to carry responsibility for the quality of licensed or syndicated content, even if it wasn’t created by the website itself.

3. Newspaper Websites

Before:

Google Quality Raters Guide, Sep 2019 Update 3 - Newspaper Websites: Old.

2.6.1 Research on the Reputation of the Website or Creator of the Main Content

Many other kinds of websites have reputations as well. For example, you might find that a newspaper website has won journalistic awards. Prestigious awards, such as the Pulitzer Prize award, are strong evidence of positive reputation.

After:

Google Quality Raters Guide, Sep 2019 Update 3 - Newspaper Websites: New.

2.6.1 Research on the Reputation of the Website or Creator of the Main Content

Many other kinds of websites have reputations as well. For example, you might find that a newspaper (with an associated website) has won journalistic awards. Prestigious awards, such as the Pulitzer Prize award, or a history of high quality original reporting are strong evidence of positive reputation.

4. Newspaper Quality

Before:

Google Quality Raters Guide, Sep 2019 Update 4 - Newspaper Quality: Old.

4.6 Examples of High Quality Pages

Webpage/Type of ContentHigh Quality CharacteristicsPQ Rating and Explanation
High: News 1

Homepage of a newspaper (YMYL)

  • A satisfying amount of high quality MC
  • Positive reputation (website)
This newspaper has won seven Pulitzer Prize awards.
High: News 2

Article on a newspaper website (YMYL)

  • A satisfying amount of high quality MC
  • Positive reputation (website)
  • High E-A-T of the publisher and/or author
This is an article on a newspaper website that has won ten Pulitzer Prize awards. There is a satisfying amount of high quality MC. While there are Ads on the page, the MC is easy to find and the Ads are clearly labeled as Ads.

After:

Google Quality Raters Guide, Sep 2019 Update 4 - Newspaper Quality: New.

4.6 Examples of High Quality Pages

Webpage/Type of ContentHigh Quality CharacteristicsPQ Rating and Explanation
High: News 1

Homepage of a newspaper (YMYL)

  • A satisfying amount of high quality MC
  • Positive reputation (website)
This is the homepage of a newspaper that has won several Pulitzer Prizes and Overseas Press Club awards. This newspaper has a positive reputation for its objective reporting.
High: News 2

Article on a newspaper website (YMYL)

  • A satisfying amount of high quality MC
  • Positive reputation (website)
  • High E-A-T of the publisher and/or author
This is an article on a newspaper website that has won many Pulitzer Prize awards and has a positive reputation for its investigative journalism. There is a satisfying amount of high quality MC. While there are Ads on the page, the MC is easy to find and the Ads are clearly labeled as Ads.

5. Blog Quality

Before:

Google Quality Raters Guide, Sep 2019 Update 5 - Blog Quality: Old.

4.6 Examples of High Quality Pages (cont.)

Webpage/Type of ContentHigh Quality CharacteristicsPQ Rating and Explanation
High: Blog post

Parenting article about strollers

  • A satisfying amount of high quality MC
  • Very positive reputation (website)
  • Specifically, high E-A-T and positivereputation for this specific blog and author
This is a blog post on a newspaper that has won over 100 Pulitzer Prize awards. The author of this blog post has become known as an expert on parenting issues. She is a regular contributor to this and other media websites.

After:

Google Quality Raters Guide, Sep 2019 Update 5 - Blog Quality: New.

4.6 Examples of High Quality Pages (cont.)

Webpage/Type of ContentHigh Quality CharacteristicsPQ Rating and Explanation
High: Blog post

Parenting article about strollers

  • A satisfying amount of high quality MC
  • Very positive reputation (website)
  • Specifically, high E-A-T and positivereputation for this specific blog and author
This is a blog post on a newspaper that has won a variety of awards, such as the Pulitzer Prize, George Polk Award, Peabody Award, etc. The author of this blog post has become known as an expert on parenting issues. She is a regular contributor to this and other media websites.

6. Main Content Quality

Before:

Google Quality Raters Guide, Sep 2019 Update 6 - Main Content Quality: Old.

5.1 Very High Quality MC

We will consider the MC of the page to be very high or highest quality when it is created with a high degree of time and effort, and in particular, expertise, talent, and skill—this may provide evidence for the E-A-T of the page. Very high quality MC may be created by experts, hobbyists, or even people with everyday expertise. Our standards depend on the purpose of the page and the type of content. However, for news articles and information pages on YMYL topics, there is a high standard for accuracy and well-established medical/scientific/historical consensus where such consensus exists.

The Highest rating may be justified for pages with a satisfying or comprehensive amount of very high quality MC.

After:

Google Quality Raters Guide, Sep 2019 Update 6 - Main Content Quality: New.

5.1 Very High Quality MC

We will consider the MC of the page to be very high or highest quality when it is created with a high degree of time and effort, and in particular, expertise, talent, and skill—this may provide evidence for the E-A-T of the page. Very high quality MC may be created by experts, hobbyists, or even people with everyday expertise. Our standards depend on the purpose of the page and the type of content. For YMYL topics, there is a high standard for accuracy and well-established medical/scientific/historical consensus where such consensus exists.

A factor that often distinguishes very high quality MC is the creation of unique and original content for the specific website. While what constitutes original content may be very different depending on the type of website, here are some examples:

  • For news: very high quality MC is original reporting that provides information that would not otherwise have been known had the article not revealed it. Original, in-depth, and investigative reporting requires a high degree of skill, time, and effort. Often very high quality news content will include a description of primary sources and other original reporting referenced during the content creation process. Very high quality news content must be accurate and should meet professional journalistic standards.
  • For artistic content (videos, images, photography, writing, etc.): very high quality MC is unique and original content created by highly skilled and talented artists or content creators. Such artistic content requires a high degree of skill/talent, time, and effort. If the artistic content is related to a YMYL topic (e.g., artistic content with the purpose of informing or swaying opinion about YMYL topics), YMYL standards should apply.
  • For informational content: very high quality MC is original, accurate, comprehensive, clearly communicated, professionally presented, and should reflect expert consensus as appropriate. Expectations for different types of information may vary. For example, scientific papers have a different set of standards than information about a hobby such as stamp collecting. However, all types of very high quality informational content share common attributes of accuracy, comprehensiveness, and clear communication, in addition to meeting standards appropriate to the topic or field.

The Highest rating may be justified for pages with a satisfying or comprehensive amount of very high quality MC.

7. Publisher Reputation

Before:

Google Quality Raters Guide, Sep 2019 Update 7 - Publisher Reputation: Old.

5.2 Very Positive Reputation

Extensive reputation research is important when giving Highest ratings, and is evidence of the E-A-T of the page. Very positive reputation is often based on prestigious awards or recommendations from known experts or professional societies on the topic of the page. Wikipedia and other informational sources can be a good starting point for reputation research.

For some topics, such as humor or recipes, less formal expertise is OK. For these topics, popularity, user engagement, and user reviews can be considered evidence of reputation. For topics that need less formal expertise, websites can be considered to have a positive reputation if they are highly popular and well-loved for their topic or content type, and are focused on helping users.

After:

Google Quality Raters Guide, Sep 2019 Update 7 - Publisher Reputation: New.

5.2 Very Positive Reputation

Extensive reputation research is important when giving Highest ratings. Very positive reputation is often based on prestigious awards or recommendations from known experts or professional societies on the topic of the page. Wikipedia and other informational sources can be a good starting point for reputation research.

For YMYL topics especially, careful checks for reputation are required. YMYL reputation should be based on evidence from experts, professional societies, awards, etc. For shopping pages, experts could include people who have used the store’s website to make purchases; whereas for medical advice pages, experts should be people or organizations with appropriate medical expertise or accreditation. Please review section 2.3 for a summary of types of YMYL pages/topics.

For some topics, such as humor or recipes, less formal expertise is OK. For these topics, popularity, user engagement, and user reviews can be considered evidence of reputation. For topics that need less formal expertise, websites can be considered to have a positive reputation if they are highly popular and well-loved for their topic or content type, and are focused on helping users.

8. E-A-T / YMYL Clarity (small change)

Before:

Google Quality Raters Guide, Sep 2019 Update 8 - EAT YMYL Clarity: Old.

5.3 Very High Level of E-A-T

Formal expertise is important for topics such as medical, financial, or legal advice. Expertise may be less formal for topics such as recipes or humor. An expert page on cooking may be a page on a professional chef’s website, or it may be someone who posts popular cooking videos on YouTube. Please value life experience and “everyday expertise.” For some topics, the most expert sources of information are ordinary people sharing their life experiences on personal blogs, forums, reviews, discussions, etc.

Think about what expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness mean for the topic of the page. Who are the experts? What makes a source trustworthy for the topic? What makes a website highly authoritative for the topic?

After:

Google Quality Raters Guide, Sep 2019 Update 8 - EAT YMYL Clarity: New.

5.3 Very High Level of E-A-T

Formal expertise is important for YMYL topics such as medical, financial, or legal advice. Expertise may be less formal for topics such as recipes or humor. An expert page on cooking may be a page on a professional chef’s website, or it may be a video from an expert content creator who uploads very high quality cooking videos on YouTube and is one of the most well-known and popular content creators for recipes in their area of expertise. Please value life experience and “everyday expertise” as appropriate. For some topics, the most expert sources of information are ordinary people sharing their life experiences on personal blogs, videos, forums, reviews, discussions, etc.

Think about what expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness mean for the topic of the page. Who are the experts? What makes a source trustworthy for the topic? What makes a website highly authoritative for the topic? Standards for very high E-A-T will differ depending on the topic of the page. YMYL topics will require higher standards.

9. Highest Quality News Pages

Before:

Google Quality Raters Guide, Sep 2019 Update 9 - Highest Quality News: Old.

5.4 Examples of Highest Quality Pages

Webpage/Type of ContentHigh Quality CharacteristicsPQ Rating and Explanation
Webpage/Type of ContentHighest Quality CharacteristicsPQ Rating and Explanation
Highest: News

Article on a newspaper website

  • Very high level of E-A-T for the purpose of the page, including of the publisher and/or authors for a news article
  • A satisfying or comprehensive amount of very high quality MC for the purpose of the page
  • Very positive reputation (website)
This is a feature article from a newspaper that has won 40 Pulitzer Prize awards and is the largest newspaper in the U.S. by circulation at the time this example was written.

The page has a comprehensive amount of very high-quality MC, including in-depth reporting by two authors with extensive knowledge and experience in investigative journalism.

After:

Google Quality Raters Guide, Sep 2019 Update 9 - Highest Quality News: New.

5.4 Examples of Highest Quality Pages

Webpage/Type of ContentHigh Quality CharacteristicsPQ Rating and Explanation
Webpage/Type of ContentHighest Quality CharacteristicsPQ Rating and Explanation
Highest: News 1

Article on a newspaper website (YMYL)

  • Very high level of E-A-T for the purpose of the page, including of the publisher and/or authors for a news article
  • A satisfying or comprehensive amount of very high quality MC for the purpose of the page
  • Very positive reputation (website)
This is a feature article from a newspaper that has won numerous awards (such as the Pulitzer Prize, James Beard Award, and Scripps Howard Award).

The page has a comprehensive amount of very high-quality MC, including in-depth reporting by two authors with extensive knowledge and experience in investigative journalism.

Highest: News 2

Article on a newspaper website

  • Very high level of E-A-T for the purpose of the page, including of the publisher and/or authors for a news article
  • A satisfying or comprehensive amount of very high quality MC for the purpose of the page
  • Very positive reputation (website)
This is an article on a newspaper website that has won a variety of awards including the Pulitzer Prize and the GLAAD Media Award.

The article has a comprehensive amount of very high quality MC that is unique and original, including in-depth investigative reporting by two authors with extensive knowledge and experience in investigative journalism.

 

10. Magazine Article Quality

Before:

Google Quality Raters Guide, Sep 2019 Update 10 - Magazine Quality: Old.

5.4 Examples of Highest Quality Pages (cont.)

Webpage/Type of ContentHigh Quality CharacteristicsPQ Rating and Explanation
Highest: Magazine Article 1

Article titled “Secret Fears of the Super-Rich”

  • Very high level of E-A-T for the purpose of the page
  • A satisfying or comprehensive amount of very high quality MC
  • Very positive reputation (website)
This is a very high quality and in-depth article on an award winning magazine website.
Highest: Magazine Article 2

Interview with musical artist

  • Very high level of E-A-T for the purpose of the page
  • A satisfying or comprehensive amount of very high quality MC
  • Very positive reputation (website)
This magazine is very well-known and well regarded for content about artists and bands, and specifically has a positive reputation for interviews with musicians. There is a large quantity of high quality MC.

After:

Google Quality Raters Guide, Sep 2019 Update 10 - Magazine Quality: New.

5.4 Examples of Highest Quality Pages (cont.)

Webpage/Type of ContentHigh Quality CharacteristicsPQ Rating and Explanation
Highest: Magazine Article 1

Article titled “Secret Fears of the Super-Rich”

  • Very high level of E-A-T for the purpose of the page
  • A satisfying or comprehensive amount of very high quality MC
  • Very positive reputation (website)
This article is on a magazine website that has won multiple National Magazine awards. The article has a comprehensive amount of very high quality and in-depth MC that is unique and original.
Highest: Magazine Article 2

Interview with musical artist

  • Very high level of E-A-T for the purpose of the page
  • A satisfying or comprehensive amount of very high quality MC
  • Very positive reputation (website)
This magazine is very well-known and well regarded for content about artists and bands, and specifically has a positive reputation for interviews with musicians. This article features high quality and original content in its interview with the artist.

 

11. No more Entertainment

Before:

Google Quality Raters Guide, Sep 2019 Update 11 - Entertainment Quality: Old.

5.4 Examples of Highest Quality Pages (cont.)

Highest: Entertainment

Humor website

  • ●  A satisfying or comprehensive amount of very high quality MC
  • ●  Very positive reputation (website)
This comedian has won multiple prestigious awards for his TV show (on the air when the example was written), and this is the homepage of his official website.

Keep in mind that for any type of page, including humor websites, there may be a range of highest quality to lowest quality pages. Therefore, it’s important to evaluate the page using the same criteria as all other pages, regardless of what type of page it is.

After:

Google Quality Raters Guide, Sep 2019 Update 11 - Entertainment Quality: New.

5.4 Examples of Highest Quality Pages (cont.)

Gone! This section was completely removed.

 

12. “Fully Meets” Criteria (small change)

Before:

Google Quality Raters Guide, Sep 2019 Update 12 - Fully Meets App Search: Old.

13.2.1 Examples of Fully Meets (FullyM) Result Blocks

Query: [open bing search app]

User Location: Dallas, Texas

User Intent: Open the Bing Search app on the user’s device.

The result block shows that the phone has detected that the app is not installed and gives the option of downloading the app. This result Fully Meets the user need.

Note: Remember that you should assume that queries were issued on an Android device when rating Device Action Result Blocks, unless explicitly stated otherwise in the instructions. Therefore, the Google Play result for this query is appropriate.

After:

Google Quality Raters Guide, Sep 2019 Update 12 - Fully Meets App Search: New.

13.2.1 Examples of Fully Meets (FullyM) Result Blocks

Query: [open bing search app]

User Location: Dallas, Texas

User Intent: Open the Bing Search app on the user’s device.

The result block shows that the phone has detected that the app is not installed and gives the option of downloading the app. This result Fully Meets the user need.

 

Download the Comparison

We ran the May and September, 2019 versions through Adobe Acrobat’s comparison tool. The tool is a bit overzealous in labeling changes, but if you’re willing to sort through the yellow highlights and look for the red ones, this comparison is handy.

Download your copy here.

Download PDF: Google Quality Raters Guide Comparison, 2019 Sep vs May.

 

The Discussion

Pedro Dias ran a diff on the versions and came up with a list of changed sections:

2.3Your Money or Your Life (YMYL) Pages
2.5.2Finding Who is Responsible for the Website and Who Created the Content on the Page
2.6.1Research on the Reputation of the Website or Creator of the Main Content
5.1Very High Quality MC
5.2Very Positive Reputation
5.3Very High Level of E-A-T
5.4Examples of Highest Quality Pages
12.9Rating on Your Phone Issues
13.2.1Examples of Fully Meets (FullyM) Result Blocks
13.6.1Examples of Fails to Meet (FailsM) Result Blocks

 

 

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