Matt Cutts Sheds More Light On Google’s Quality Raters Process

Chris CrumSearch

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Internet marketer Jennifer Ledbetter (otherwise known as PotPieGirl) wrote a post last month about the Google Quality Raters (you know, those people Google's Matt Cutts and Amit Singhal talked about in that famous Wired interview about the Panda update, which look at search results and rate the quality, giving their feedback to the company).

In that post, she wrote, “Now this makes sense to me – ONE rater can not cause a rankings change. 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.”

Cutts responded today in the comments of the post to “dispel a misconception”. That “sneaky feeling,” he says, 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,” he says.

In response to Jon Cooper, commenting on that post, Cutts goes on to say:

The search quality raters sit in the “evaluation” part of search quality and they assess whether a new potential search ranking algorithm is a good idea or not. When they rate something as spam or not, we use that data to answer questions like “If we launch algorithm A, will spam go up or not?” or “Has our quality/spam gone up recently?”

But the search quality raters are strictly “read-only”–they don’t directly affect our rankings in any way. If you think about it, you definitely wouldn’t want to spamfight on the same queries that you’re using to evaluate your quality: you’d get skewed quality metrics as a result.

To be clear, Google does reserve the right to take manual action on spam. But that action happens in the webspam team, which is completely separate from the evaluation team and the search quality raters.

PotPieGirl wrote a follow-up post discussing Cutts’ “debunking” of her other post. Someone named Steve commented on that post, saying, “It’s a safe bet that if raters flag a site for spam they turn it over to the spam team.”

Cutts stepped up again to debunk just a little bit more, responding, “No, that’s a very bad bet, because it’s not true. If search quality raters rate a site as spam, it’s not sent over to the webspam team. Please see what I replied to Jon Cooper: you don’t want to spamfight on the data you use for metrics, or else you’ll get skewed metrics.”

Google gave us a brief glimpse of the quality raters in this video earlier this year:

I do mean glimpse.

We gotta hand it to PotPieGirl for getting Cutts talking about this.

@potpiegirl No worries--happy to clarify that point. 14 hours ago via web · powered by @socialditto

Update: After this article was initially published, Cutts pointed out in a tweet that the topic also came up in a recent panel he participated in:

@CCrum237 your article at reminded me that we touched on this during our Churchill Club panel & made me find it. 🙂 9 hours ago via web · powered by @socialditto

Here's the video from that:

Chris Crum
Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.