This text presents the highlights for the July 28th, 2022 edition of the Google Quality Raters General Guidelines document, known as General Guidelines. To read the complete document please go to the following Google links
Introduction to Search Quality Rating
- Search results should help people in their specific language and geographic location.
- The General Guidelines primarily cover Page Quality (PQ) rating and Needs Met (NM) rating; however, the concepts are also important for many other types of rating tasks.
- Search engines exist to help people find what they are looking for. To do that, search engines must provide a diverse set of helpful, high quality search results, presented in the most helpful order.
- Different types of searches need very different types of search results. Medical search results should be high quality, authoritative, and trustworthy. Search results for “cute baby animal pictures” should be adorable. Search results for a specific website or webpage should have that desired result at the top. Searches that have many possible meanings or involve many perspectives need a diverse set of results that reflect the natural diversity of meanings and points of view.
- People all over the world use search engines; therefore, diversity in search results is essential to satisfy the diversity of people who use search. For example, searches about groups of people should return helpful results that represent a diversity of demographic backgrounds and cultures.
- Search results should help people. Search results should provide authoritative and trustworthy information, not lead people astray with misleading content. Search results should allow people to find what they’re looking for, not surprise people with unpleasant, upsetting, offensive, or disturbing content.
- Good search engines give results that are helpful for people in their specific language and locale.
- A Search Quality Rater helps evaluate search engine quality around the world.
- No single rating can directly impact how a particular webpage, website, or result appears in Google Search, nor can they cause specific webpages, websites, or results to move up or down on the search results page. Using ratings to position results on the search results page would not be feasible, as humans could never individually rate each page on the open web.
- Ratings are used to measure how effectively search engines are working to deliver helpful content to people around the world. Ratings are also used to improve search engines by providing examples of helpful and unhelpful results for different searches.
Page Quality Ratings Guidelines
- A Page Quality (PQ) rating task consists of a URL and a grid to record your observations, in order to guide your exploration of the landing page and the website associated with the URL. Ultimately, the goal of Page Quality rating is to evaluate how well the page achieves its purpose. Because different types of websites and webpages can have very different purposes, our expectations and standards for different types of pages are also different.
- A search engine is a tool to help people or users find or interact with content available on the Internet.
- A webpage is connected to the World Wide Web and can be viewed or “visited” using a web browser (e.g., Chrome), a browser on your phone, or a search app. In the 1990s, webpage content was mostly text and links. Today, webpage content includes many forms of media (such as images, videos, etc.) and functionality (such as online shopping features, email, calculator functionality, online games, etc.).
- A URL is a character string that your web browser uses to <find= and display a webpage. Page Quality rating doesn’t require you to have in-depth understanding of the structure of URLs, i.e., you don’t need to know the difference between host, domain, etc. But if you are interested, see here to read more.
- A website or site is a group of World Wide Web pages usually containing hyperlinks to each other and made available online by an individual, company, educational institution, government, or organization. Popular websites include Facebook, Wikipedia, Yahoo, YouTube, etc.
- Note: In these guidelines, we will use the word <website= to refer to a collection of pages owned and controlled by a single entity (individual, business, etc.). But we will also use <website= to refer to major <independent= sections (or hosts) of some websites that were created to achieve separate purposes. For example, the Yahoo website is organized into different sections (or hosts), such as Yahoo Finance (finance.yahoo.com), Yahoo Mail (mail.yahoo.com), Yahoo Sports (sports.yahoo.com), etc. Each of these has its own purpose. It’s OK to refer to each of these sections as a website; for example, the Yahoo Finance website and the Yahoo Sports website. You may also refer to pages on Yahoo Finance or Yahoo Sports as belonging to the Yahoo website.
- A homepage of a website is the main page of the site. It is usually the first page that users see when the site loads. For example, http://www.apple.com is the homepage of the Apple site, http://www.yahoo.com is the homepage of the Yahoo company site, and http://finance.yahoo.com is the homepage of Yahoo Finance. You can usually find the homepage of a website by clicking on a <home= link or logo link on subpages of a website.
- A subpage on a website is any page on the site other than the homepage. For example, http://www.apple.com/iphone is a subpage on the Apple website, and https://finance.yahoo.com/news is a subpage on the Yahoo Finance website.
- A webmaster is the person who is responsible for maintaining a website.
- What is the purpose of a webpage? The purpose of a page is the reason or reasons why the page was created. Every page on the Internet is created for a purpose, or for multiple purposes. Most pages are created to be helpful for people, thus having a beneficial purpose. Some pages are created merely to make money, with little or no effort to help people. Some pages are even created to harm users. The first step in understanding a page is figuring out its purpose.
- Why is it important to determine the purpose of the page for PQ rating? The goal of PQ rating is to determine how well a page achieves its purpose. In order to assign a rating, you must understand the purpose of the page and sometimes the website. By understanding the purpose of the page, you’ll better understand what criteria are important to consider when evaluating that particular page. Websites and pages should be created to help people. If that is not the case, a rating of Lowest may be warranted. As long as the page is created to help people, we will not consider any particular page purpose or type to be higher quality than another. For example, encyclopedia pages are not necessarily higher quality than humor pages.
- There are highest quality and lowest quality webpages of all different types and purposes: shopping pages, news pages, forum pages, video pages, pages with error messages, PDFs, images, gossip pages, humor pages, homepages, and all other types of pages. The type of page does not determine the PQ rating. You have to understand the purpose of the page to determine the rating.
- Common helpful or beneficial page purposes include (but are not limited to):
- To share information about a topic.
- To share personal or social information.
- To share pictures, videos, or other forms of media.
- To express an opinion or point of view.
- To entertain.
- To sell products or services.
- To allow users to post questions for other users to answer
- To allow users to share files or to download software.
- The purpose of the page should be obviously written in an ubiquitous place on the page to make it easier to users to see it.
- Pages on the World Wide Web are about a vast variety of topics. Some topics have a high risk of harm because content about these topics could significantly impact the health, financial stability, or safety of people, or the welfare or well-being of society. We call these topics <Your Money or Your Life= or YMYL.
- To determine whether a topic is YMYL, assess the following types of harm that might occur:
- YMYL Health or Safety: Topics that could harm mental, physical, and emotional health, or any form of safety such as physical safety or safety online.
- YMYL Financial Security: Topics that could damage a person’s ability to support themselves and their families.
- YMYL Society: Topics that could negatively impact groups of people, issues of public interest, trust in public institutions, etc.
- YMYL Other: Topics that could hurt people or negatively impact welfare or well-being of society.
- Important note: For pages about clear YMYL topics, we have very high Page Quality rating standards because low quality pages could potentially negatively impact a person’s health, financial stability, or safety, or the welfare or well-being of society. Page Quality rating examples in these guidelines about YMYL topics will be labeled as YMYL to illustrate the high rating standards for clear YMYL topics that impact a person’s health, financial stability, or safety, or the welfare or well-being of society.
- All of the content on a webpage can be classified as one of the following: Main Content (MC), Supplementary Content (SC), or Advertisements/Monetization (Ads). In order to understand the purpose of a webpage and do PQ rating, you will need to be able to distinguish among these different parts of the page.
- Main Content (MC) is any part of the page that directly helps the page achieve its purpose. MC is (or should be!) the reason the page exists. The quality of the MC plays a very large role in the Page Quality rating of a webpage.
Supplementary Content (SC) is also important. SC can help a page better achieve its purpose or it can detract from the overall experience.
Many pages have advertisements/monetization (Ads). Without advertising and monetization, some webpages could not exist because it costs money to maintain a website and create high quality content. The presence or absence of Ads is not by itself a reason for a High or Low quality rating.
- Pages often make more sense when viewed as part of a website. Some of the criteria in Page Quality rating are based on the website the page belongs to.
In order to understand a website, look for information about the website on the website itself. Websites are usually very eager to tell you all about themselves!
You must also look for reputation information about the website. What do outside, independent sources say about the website? When there is disagreement between what the website says about itself and what reputable independent sources say about the website, trust the independent sources.
- Every page belongs to a website, and it should be clear:
Who (what individual, company, business, foundation, etc.) is responsible for the website.
Who (what individual, company, business, foundation, etc.) created the content on the page you are evaluating.
Websites are usually very clear about who created the content on the page. There are many reasons for this:
Commercial websites may have copyrighted material they want to protect.
Businesses want users to know who they are.
Artists, authors, musicians, and other original content creators usually want to be known and appreciated.
Foundations often want support and even volunteers.
High quality stores want users to feel comfortable buying online.
Websites want users to be able to distinguish between content created by themselves versus content that was added by other users.
Most websites have <contact us= or <about us= or <about= pages that provide information about who owns the site. Many companies have an entire website or blog devoted to who they are and what they are doing, what jobs are available, etc.
- Many websites are interested in communicating with their users. There are many reasons that users might have for contacting a website, from reporting problems such as broken pages, to asking for content removal. Many websites offer multiple ways for users to contact the website: email addresses, phone numbers, physical addresses, web contact forms, etc. Sometimes, this contact information is even organized by department and provides the names of individuals to contact.
- An important part of PQ rating is understanding the reputation of the website. If the creator of the MC is different from the creator of the website, it’s important to understand the reputation of the creator as well.
A website’s reputation is based on the experience of real users, as well as the opinion of people who are experts in the topic of the website. Keep in mind that websites often represent real companies, organizations, and other entities. Therefore, reputation research applies to both the website and the actual company, organization, or entity that the website is representing.
Knowing more about the reputation of a website and content creator can also help you understand what a website is best known for, and as a result how well it accomplishes its purpose. For example, newspapers may be known for high quality, independent investigative reporting while satire websites may be known for their humor.
Many websites are eager to tell users how great they are. Some webmasters have read these rating guidelines and write <reviews= on various review websites. But for PQ rating, you should aim to find independent sources of reputation information about the website and creator of the MC rather than relying solely on what the website itself or content creator has to say.
Your job is to evaluate the reputation of the website and creator of the MC. Please research the website and content creator to find out what other people and experts have to say.
- Use reputation research to find out what real users, as well as experts, think about a website. Look for reviews, references, recommendations by experts, news articles, and other credible information created/written by individuals about the website.
User reviews are often helpful sources of reputation for websites that offer products or services. You may consider a large number of detailed, trustworthy positive user reviews as evidence of positive reputation.
For other kinds of websites, sources of reputation information will vary according to the topic or type of company/organization/entity that the website represents. For example, you might find that a newspaper (with an associated website) has won journalistic awards. Prestigious awards or a history of high quality original reporting are strong evidence of positive reputation.
For individual authors and content creators, biographical information articles can be a good source of reputation information.
For YMYL informational topics, the reputation of a website or content creator should be judged by what experts in the field have to say. Recommendations from expert sources, such as professional societies, are strong evidence of a very positive reputation.
Carefully consider the purpose of the page, whether or not the topic is YMYL, and the kind of reputation information that would be most applicable. For example, customer ratings and reviews may be helpful for reputation research of online stores, but much less so for medical information websites.
Reputation research is necessary for all websites and content creators you encounter, to the extent that an established reputation can be found. Do not just assume websites you personally use have a good reputation. Please do research! You might be surprised at what you find.
- At a high level, here are the steps of Page Quality rating:
Assess the true purpose of the page.
Assess the potential of the page to be harmful, untrustworthy, or spammy as defined in Section 7.0 of these guidelines.
Otherwise, the PQ rating is based on how well the page achieves its purpose using the criteria outlined in the following sections on Lowest, Low, Medium , High, and Highest quality pages.
- Here are the most important factors to consider when selecting an overall Page Quality rating:
The Purpose of the Page
Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness: This is an important quality characteristic. Use your research on the additional factors below to inform your rating.
Main Content Quality and Amount: The rating should be based on the landing page of the task URL.
Website Information/information about who is responsible for the MC: Find information about the website as well as the creator of the MC.
Website Reputation/reputation about who is responsible for the MC: Links to help with reputation research will be provided.
- Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (E-A-T)
The amount of expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness (E-A-T) is very important. Please consider:
- The expertise of the creator of the MC.
- The authoritativeness of the creator of the MC, the MC itself, and the website.
- The trustworthiness of the creator of the MC, the MC itself, and the website.
Keep in mind that there are high E-A-T pages and websites of all types, even gossip websites, fashion websites, humor websites, forum and Q&A pages, etc. In fact, some types of information are found almost exclusively on forums and discussions, where a community of experts can provide valuable perspectives on specific topics.
- High E-A-T medical advice should be written or produced by people or organizations with appropriate medical expertise or accreditation. High E-A-T medical advice or information should be written or produced in a professional style and should be edited, reviewed, and updated on a regular basis.
- High E-A-T news articles should be produced with journalistic professionalism4they should contain factually accurate content presented in a way that helps users achieve a better understanding of events. High E-A-T news sources typically have published established editorial policies and robust review processes (example 1 , example
- High E-A-T information pages on scientific topics should be produced by people or organizations with appropriate scientific expertise and represent well-established scientific consensus on issues where such consensus exists.
- High E-A-T financial advice, legal advice, tax advice, etc., should come from trustworthy sources and be maintained and updated regularly.
- High E-A-T advice pages on topics such as home remodeling (which can cost thousands of dollars and impact your living situation) or advice on parenting issues (which can impact the future well-being of a family) should also come from <expert= or experienced sources that users can trust.
- High E-A-T pages on hobbies, such as photography or learning to play a guitar, also require expertise.
Some topics require less formal expertise. Many people write extremely detailed, helpful reviews of products or restaurants. Many people share tips and life experiences on forums, blogs, etc. These ordinary people may be considered experts in topics where they have life experience. If it seems as if the person creating the content has the type and amount of life experience to make him or her an <expert= on the topic, we will value this <everyday expertise= and not penalize the person/webpage/website for not having <formal= education or training in the field.
It’s even possible to have everyday expertise in YMYL topics. For example, there are forums and support pages for people with specific diseases. Sharing personal experience is a form of everyday expertise. Consider this example . Here, forum participants are telling how long their loved ones lived with liver cancer. This is an example of sharing personal experiences (in which they are experts), not medical advice. Specific medical information and advice (rather than descriptions of life experiences) should come from doctors or other health professionals.
Think about the topic of the page. What kind of expertise is required for the page to achieve its purpose well? The standard for expertise depends on the topic of the page.
- Characteristics of High Quality Pages
What makes a High quality page? A High quality page should have a beneficial purpose and achieve that purpose well. In addition, High quality pages have the following characteristics:
- High level of Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (E-A-T).
- A satisfying amount of high quality MC, including a descriptive or helpful title.
- Satisfying website information and/or information about who is responsible for the website. If the page is primarily for shopping or includes financial transactions, then it should have satisfying customer service information.
- Positive website reputation for a website that is responsible for the MC on the page. Positive reputation of the creator of the MC, if different from that of the website.
- A Satisfying Amount of High Quality Main Content
The quality of the MC is one of the most important criteria in Page Quality rating, and informs the E-A-T of the page. For all types of webpages, creating high quality MC takes a significant amount of at least one of the following: time, effort, expertise, and talent/skill. For news articles and information pages, high quality MC must be factually accurate for the topic and must be supported by expert consensus where such consensus exists.
For each page you evaluate, spend a few minutes examining the MC before drawing a conclusion about it. Read the article, watch the video, examine the pictures, use the calculator, play the online game, etc. Remember that MC also includes page features and functionality, so test the page out. For example, if the page is a product page on a store website, put at least one product in the cart to make sure the shopping cart is functioning. If the page is an online game, spend a few minutes playing it.
The purpose of the page will help you determine what high quality content means for that page. For example, High quality information pages should be factually accurate, clearly written, and comprehensive. High quality shopping content should allow users to find the products they want and to purchase the products easily. High quality humor or satire should be entertaining, while factual accuracy is not a requirement as long as the page would be understood as satire by users.
The amount of content necessary for the page to be satisfying depends on the topic and purpose of the page. A High quality page on a broad topic with a lot of available information will have more content than a High quality page on a narrower topic. Here are some examples of pages with a satisfying amount of high quality MC.
- Clear and Satisfying Website Information: Who is Responsible and Customer Service
Understanding who is responsible for a website is a critical part of assessing E-A-T for most types of websites. High quality pages should have clear information about the website so that users feel comfortable trusting the site.
The amount of information needed for E-A-T assessment depends on the type of website. For example, websites about YMYL topics demand a high degree of trust, so they generally need satisfying information about who is responsible for the content of the site. In addition, High quality stores and financial transaction websites also need clear and satisfying customer service information to help users resolve issues.
Other websites that are not about YMYL topics may need less website information, depending on the purpose of the website. For example, an email address may be sufficient for some websites.
- Positive Reputation
Reputation is an important criterion when using the High rating, and informs the E-A-T of the page. While a page can merit the High rating with no reputation, the High rating cannot be used for any website that has a convincing negative reputation. Remember that when doing research, make sure to consider the reasons behind a negative rating and not j ust the rating itself.
- A High Level of Expertise/Authoritativeness/Trustworthiness (E-A-T)
High quality pages and websites need enough expertise to be authoritative and trustworthy on their topic. Remember that there are <expert= websites of all types, even gossip websites, fashion websites, humor websites, forum and Q&A pages, etc. In fact, some types of information are found almost exclusively on forums and discussions, where a community of experts can provide valuable perspectives on specific topics.
Think about the topic of the page. What kind of expertise is required for the page to achieve its purpose well? The standard for expertise depends on the topic of the page. For example, high quality news articles and information pages on scientific topics should represent established scientific consensus where such consensus exists.
- Highest Quality Pages
Highest quality pages are created to serve a beneficial purpose and achieve their purpose very well. The distinction between High and Highest is based on the quality and quantity of MC, as well as the level of reputation and E-A-T.
What makes a page Highest quality? In addition to the attributes of a High quality page, a Highest quality page must have at least one of the following characteristics:
- Very high level of Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (E-A-T).
- A very satisfying amount of high or highest quality MC.
- Very positive website reputation for a website that is responsible for the MC on the page. Very positive reputation of the creator of the MC, if different from that of the website.
- 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 skill4this 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.
- 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 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.
- Very High Level of E-A-T
Highest quality pages and websites have a very high level of expertise or are highly authoritative or highly trustworthy.
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.
- Instructions for Rating Page Quality Tasks
The Page Quality task page is broken up into several parts:
- Some initial questions about the task landing page.
- A <PQ grid= to record your observations about PQ characteristics of the landing page.
- The Overall PQ rating slider which records your Overall PQ rating.
- A comment box to explain your rating.
Some results to the initial questions will end the task early. If the page is Porn, Foreign Language, Did Not Load, or consists of restricted or inaccessible MC (e.g., subscription is required to view MC), you will not fill in the PQ grid or assign an overall rating.
- Foreign Language should not be used when the language on the landing page is in the task language, a language that is commonly used by a significant percentage of the population in the task location, or English.
- Did Not Load should be used for pages where there is absolutely no content on the page created by the website. There is no MC, SC, or Ads on the page. See this Wikipedia article for descriptions of different types of error
Similarly, if you respond that the page is malicious, harmful, deceptive, or lacking in purpose, you will also not fill in the PQ grid or assign an overall rating.
The PQ grid is designed to be your “note pad.” It allows you to record your observations about the landing page and the website it belongs to.
- Reputation and E-A-T: Website or the Creators of the Main Content?
You must consider the reputation and E-A-T of both the website and the creators of the MC in order to assign a Page Quality rating.
The reputation and E-A-T of the creators of the MC is extremely important when a website has different authors or content creators on different pages. This is true of forum and Q&A pages, news websites, or websites that have user-generated content, such as YouTube, Twitter, etc. The reputation and E-A-T assessment for pages on these types of websites may differ drastically depending on what page you are evaluating. There are Highest quality YouTube videos created by highly reputable and expert content creators, as well as Lowest quality YouTube videos created with a dangerous lack of E-A-T on YMYL topics.
Important: Research the reputation and E-A-T of both the website and the creators of the MC. If either are lacking for the purpose of the page, the Low or Lowest rating is appropriate.
- Page Quality Criteria for Specific Types of Pages
Ratings for Encyclopedia Pages
There are many encyclopedia-type websites. Some are highly-respected publications that are standard references, while some are websites with content created and edited by anonymous users, with no editorial oversight or fact checking. We may not always know the author of the specific encyclopedia article, and therefore must rely on website reputation research to determine the E-A-T of the article. High and Highest quality ratings should only be used for encyclopedias with very good reputations for accuracy and expertise, where the article itself is well-researched with appropriate references cited.
A note about Wikipedia: in general, the website has a good reputation and is a very popular resource that is generally valued for accuracy. However, there is no single author or organization that vouches for the accuracy of Wikipedia articles, and the quality of pages varies. You should perform page-level checks on individual articles.
A Wikipedia article on a non-YMYL topic ( example ) with a satisfying amount of accurate information and trustworthy external references can usually be rated in the High range. Some Wikipedia articles may even be rated higher, although remember that a high level of expertise is required for YMYL topics. A PQ rating in the Medium range is often appropriate for pages with less extensive MC and external references. Naturally, Wikipedia articles with very little MC should get lower PQ ratings. Factual inaccuracy is a sufficient reason for a Low or Lowest rating.
Understanding Search User Needs
- Understanding Search Users, Queries, and Results
Why do people search the Internet?
People use Internet search engines to perform many different tasks in different environments using different types of devices, such as mobile phones, tablets, laptops, or computers. Keep in mind that searches can be simple or complex, and the underlying task that a person is trying to accomplish may take multiple steps to complete. For example, a simple task may be to find the director of a movie. A complex task may be to find a movie’s show times nearby, purchase tickets, and get directions to go to the theater. Overall, search engines should make it easy for people to complete tasks by surfacing helpful results right away.
- Important Rating Definitions and Ideas
Query: This refers to the text that a user types or the audio a user speaks into a device. In these guidelines, queries have square brackets around them. If a user says <coffee shops near me, = we display: [coffee shops near me]. If a user types <flights to New York= in the search box, we display: [flights to New York].
There are many different types of queries because people use their devices to do many things, from searching for specific websites to looking for answers to specific questions to browsing videos for inspiration.
User: The user is the person trying to find information or accomplish a task. Keep in mind that users are people from all over the world: people of all ages, genders, races, religions, political affiliations, etc.
User Intent: When a person types or speaks a query, he or she is trying to accomplish something. We refer to this goal as the user intent.
Locale: All queries have a locale, which is the language and region for the task. Regions are represented by a two-letter country code, for example, “US” in the locale “English (US)”. For a current list of country codes, click here . We sometimes refer to the locale as the task location.
User Location: Sometimes more specific information about the location of the person searching is provided, usually a city or state. In rating tasks, this information may be shown on a map.
Search Engine Results Page (SERP): The page a search engine shows after a user enters a query in the search box. The SERP is made up of result blocks.
Result: We will use the word result to refer to the result block and the landing page.
- Result Block: This is an individual <block= that appears on the user’s device in response to the query. The result block may display information in the block itself or contain links, or may do both.
- The Landing Page (LP) is the page you see after you click a link in the result block.
Needs Met Rating Guidelines
- Rating Using the Needs Met Scale
There are many different kinds of queries and results, but the process of rating is the same: Needs Met rating tasks ask you to focus on user needs and think about how helpful and satisfying the result is for the users.
This is what the Needs Met rating slider looks like:
Fully Meets (FullyM) A special rating category, which only applies to certain queries and results. All or almost all users would be immediately and fully satisfied by the result and would not need to view other results to satisfy their need.
Highly Meets (HM) Very helpful for many or most users. Some users may wish to see additional results.
Moderately Meets (MM) Helpful for many users OR very helpful for some users. Some or many users may wish to see additional results.
Slightly Meets (SM) Helpful for fewer users. There is a connection between the query and the result, but not a strong or satisfying connection. Many or most users would wish to see additional results.
Fails to Meet (FailsM) Completely fails to meet the needs of the users. All or almost all users would wish to see additional results.
Please note that you may assign in-between ratings. Use in-between ratings if you think the rating of a result falls between two labels. You can either drag the slider or click on the point that you want the slider to land on.
- Fully Meets (FullyM)
Fully Meets is a special rating category, which can be used in the following situations:
- The query and user need must be specific, clear, and unambiguous.
- All or almost all users would be completely satisfied by the result4users issuing that query would not need additional results to fully satisfy the user intent.
In other words, the Fully Meets rating should be reserved for results that are the <complete and perfect response or answer= so that no other results are necessary for all or almost all users to be fully satisfied.
You will need to use your judgment to decide whether a result block can Fully Meet the user need. Here are some scenarios when the Fully Meets rating is appropriate:
- The user is clearly looking for a specific webpage or website and the result block with the specific webpage or website Fully Meets the user’s need.
- The user is looking for a very specific fact or piece of information and the result block provides the information thoroughly, accurately, and clearly, and is from a high quality source. No other results would be needed. Before using the Fully Meets rating for queries seeking a very specific fact or piece of information, you must check for accuracy and confirm that the information is supported by expert consensus where such consensus exists.
Fully Meets may apply in other situations as well. Ask yourself whether the result block alone is the perfect and complete result that would fully satisfy all or almost all users. Be conservative when using the Fully Meets rating. When in doubt, consider a lower rating.
Note: If a result block is very close to being fully satisfying, but the block alone may not be sufficient in order to fully satisfy all or almost all users, a rating of Highly Meets+ may be appropriate.
Sometimes you have to think about how specific the user need is and will need to make a judgment call on whether it is specific enough to possibly have a Fully Meets rating.
- Highly Meets (HM)
A rating of Highly Meets is assigned to results that meet the needs of many or most users. Highly Meets results are highly satisfying and a good <fit= for the query. In addition, they often have some or all of the following characteristics: high quality, authoritative, entertaining, and/or recent (e.g., breaking news on a topic).
In order to receive a Highly Meets rating, information pages such as encyclopedia articles and news articles must be accurate and highly credible. Highly Meets medical and scientific information pages must represent well-established scientific/medical consensus unless the user is clearly seeking an alternative viewpoint. For all information pages, you must check for accuracy and confirm that the information is supported by expert consensus where such consensus exists.
A query can have many Highly Meets results.
Have high standards for the Highly Meets rating. This is especially important for queries with many on-topic results.
- Moderately Meets (MM)
A rating of Moderately Meets is assigned to results that are helpful and satisfying for many users or very satisfying for some users.
Moderately Meets results have fewer valuable attributes than Highly Meets results. Moderately Meets results should still <fit= the query, but they might be less comprehensive, less up-to-date, come from a less authoritative source, etc.
Moderately Meets results are not low quality, out-of-date, or inaccurate. Moderately Meets results are generally average to good.
- Slightly Meets (SM)
A rating of Slightly Meets is assigned to results that are helpful and satisfying for some or few users. Slightly Meets results may serve a minor interpretation, be low quality, have stale or outdated information, have some minor inaccuracies, be too specific, too broad, too niche for the general user population considering the query, etc. to receive a higher rating.
Important note: Many users decide which result to click or tap on based on the title of the web result on the search results page. (Note that these titles usually come from webpages.) A result with a very misleading or exaggerated title should be rated Slightly Meets or lower, due to the poor user experience that occurs when the landing page does not match the expectation of the user when clicking or tapping on the result.
- Fails to Meet (FailsM)
A rating of Fails to Meet should be assigned to results that are helpful and satisfying for no or very few users. Fails to Meet results are unrelated to the query, factually incorrect (please check for factual accuracy of answers), and/or all or almost all users would want to see additional results. These results completely fail to meet the user intent, such as a lack of attention to an aspect of the query (or user location) that is important for satisfying user intent. Fails to Meet may also be used for results that have very stale or outdated information.
Search results should never surprise people with unpleasant, upsetting, offensive, or disturbing content. For this reason, all of the following types of content should be rated Fails to Meet if it is clear that the user is not looking for such content:
- Harmful to Self or Other Individuals (Section 7.1)
- Harmful to Specified Groups (Section 7.2)
- Harmfully Misleading Information (Section 7.3)
- Untrustworthy (Section 7.4)
- Sammy (Section 7.5)
- Porn (Section 15.1)
- The Relationship between Page Quality and Needs Met
The Needs Met rating is based on both the query and the result. You must carefully think about the query and user intent when assigning a Needs Met rating.
The Page Quality rating slider does not depend on the query. Do not think about the query when assigning a Page Quality rating to the LP.
Some results don’t have a Page Quality slider. If a result block has no Page Quality rating slider, you do not have to give a Page Quality rating. If there is a Page Quality slider, please assign a Page Quality rating based on the landing page.
Here is some guidance about assigning Needs Met and Page Quality ratings:
- Useless results should always be rated FailsM, even if the landing page has a high Page Quality rating. Useless is useless.
- On-topic, helpful, but low Page Quality results should get lower Needs Met ratings than on-topic, helpful, and high Page Quality results. The Needs Met scale encompasses all aspects of <helpfulness, = and many users find low Page Quality results less helpful than high Page Quality results. Your ratings should reflect this.
- The HM rating should be given to helpful, high Page Quality pages that are a good fit for the query. The HM rating may also be used for results that are very helpful, medium quality, and have other very desirable characteristics, such as very recent information.
- The HM rating may not be appropriate if a page has low Page Quality or has any other undesirable characteristics, such as outdated or inaccurate information, or if it is a poor fit for the query. We have very high standards for the HM
- SM is often an appropriate rating for low quality but on-topic pages. However, a page can have such low Page Quality that it is useless for nearly all queries. Gibberish pages are a good example of pages with low Page Quality that should be rated FailsM. An exception to this is queries with clear website intent, where the target website should be rated FullyM even if the page has low Page Quality.
- Remember that if a page lacks a beneficial purpose, it should always be rated Lowest Page Quality – regardless of the page’s Needs Met rating or how well-designed the page may be. Please review Section 7.0 for a summary of other types of Lowest Page Quality pages.