New Google Search Quality Guidelines leaked

Posted by Rebecca Appleton on 17 Nov, 2015
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An updated version of Google’s Search Quality Rater’s Guidelines has been revealed online this week, shedding new light on how Google determines what makes for a quality page and how it measures if its algorithms are working.


Last year’s document heavily featured the Google coined acronym, E-A-T. This looks at a page in terms of its expertise, authority and trustworthiness. These three considerations form the cornerstone of good content so should be second nature to sites with a robust SEO strategy and decent rankings.

Needs Met

A new section called Needs Met takes this even further, asking the reviewer to consider if the page meets their needs. This could be considered an indication of quality – if a search user is sent to that page, is the information sufficient and of the right standard to fully resolve their search query? If the answer is yes, the page is awarded a Needs Met rating, which is the highest of this section. A somewhat unexpected example given by the search engine is coupon sites – it acknowledges their popularity and says they can often achieve a ‘Needs Met’ rating by giving the search user everything they are looking for.


One of the biggest new additions to the Rater’s Guidelines is the introduction of a dedicated mobile section. Google has introduced several initiatives in the last 12 months designed to improve mobile search – including penalties for mobile only redirects – and many form the basis of the new mobile quality section. Google has already said that it serves more mobile search results than desktop search so it should come as no surprise that the search engine is heavily invested in raising its mobile game.

As evidence of the importance of mobile, Google has listed a host of problems that typically beset mobile searches for raters to be aware of. The issues caused by mobile search and flagged up in the Rater’s Guidebook include any cumbersome data entry forms, mobile responsiveness, mobile-device friendly design elements (such as a suitable menu system and non-use of Flash and other content that won’t display on a smartphone or tablet) and webpage load times on mobile devices.

Mobile and Android

Interestingly, the Guide also includes a section called Mobile and Android. In this, Google instructs its reviewers to assess the page as if they had viewed it on a mobile device. Even those accessing a page via a desktop machine are instructed to consider the mobile friendliness of the site.

Know Queries and Know Simple Queries

Other new additions to the 2015 version of the Guidelines include Know Queries and Know Simple Queries. These two new sections cover very specific and very broad queries and include other search features such as rich snippets. Both Know Queries and Know Simple Queries are also linked to the new mobile section. A Know Simple Query is a simple search term with a simple answer – often very specific. Know Queries are broader and will require a longer explanation.

Do and Device Action Queries

Yet another section, Do and Device Action Queries, also links back to mobiles and the role of the smart phone in search. In this section, Google instructs raters to consider the process whereby an action is carried out from a mobile device – such as a click to call or a purchase.


The Rater’s Guidebook is comprehensive and also covers details such as local search (including local search nearby – again a mobile search consideration) and special content types.

We've covered all of the main points here in this post but if you'd like to know even more, read this article: 

Do these guidelines offer useful insight for business owners to improve their SEO? Will you be making any changes to your SEO or mobile strategy as a result of this information? Let us know in the comments.


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