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Google’s 2023 Search Quality Raters Guidelines Update: Here’s What You Need to Know

Google updates its “Needs Met” criterion to better represent user intent.


  • Google’s updated Search Quality Rater Guidelines on November 16.
  • Guidelines help third-party raters evaluate Google’s search system, offering insights to enhance search effectiveness.
  • Key aspects include assessing page purpose, E-E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness), content quality, and user experience.
  • Recent algorithm update prioritizes improving user experience by simplifying, updating examples, and standardizing language.
  • Ratings don’t directly impact search rankings.
  • Follow SEO best practices for sustained visibility.

A Series of Minor Changes to Google’s Algorithm

In its November 16 update to the Search Quality Rater Guidelines, Google has opted for a trim rather than a major overhaul.

Unlike the notable December 15, 2022 update that added an E for Experience to Google’s E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness), this one simply shrank the document from 176 to 168 pages and made significant changes to the following:

  • Part 3: Needs Met Rating Guideline
  • Section 9.2: Ratings for Pages with Error Messages or No MC
  • Section 12.1: Important Rating Definitions and Ideas
  • 7.4: Visit-in-Person Queries and User Location

Google Search Quality Rater Guidelines in a Nutshell

The Google Search Quality Rater Guidelines are the rules that third-party search raters (also known as quality raters) follow to evaluate the performance of Google’s search engine ranking system. Their insights assist Google in understanding which alterations would make its search engine more useful and effective.

Google’s Search Quality Rater Guidelines highlight several key aspects for evaluating the quality of web pages:

  • Page Purpose: Raters should identify what your content hopes to achieve, whether it intends to inform, sell products, entertain, or serve another specific purpose.
  • E-E-A-T: Raters shall determine the quality of pages displaying YMYL (Your Money or Your Life) content based on Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness, or E-E-A-T.
  • Content Quality and Length: Quality is superior to quantity when it comes to content. It should, first and foremost, be original, accurate, and all-encompassing. If that means putting out comprehensive content, then so be it. If quality doesn’t necessitate an overly lengthy page, your quality rating may suffer.
  • Website Information: Raters must check and evaluate the information on the site, the website’s reputation, and the standing of its content creators.
  • User Experience: A quality rater’s UX evaluation encompasses website design, user-friendliness, and user safety.
  • Needs Met Rating: This standard evaluates the extent to which a webpage fulfills user requirements vis-à-vis their search queries. It considers both the purpose behind the search and the degree to which the content successfully caters to that intent.

It’s important to note that these ratings don’t directly influence the search engine’s rankings.

The Key Changes to the Google Algorithm

The essence of this update revolves around improving user experience, and the key modifications include:

Search Quality Raters Guidelines Update

Should You Be Worried About These Changes?

The answer to that question depends on how well you have been following SEO best practices that underwent a major overhaul after Google’s E-E-A-T update.

Google has made these guidelines public for content creators to understand what it takes to create high-quality, helpful content for their target audience.

While this update creates a minor ripple in the status quo, it’s a reminder that you must rate highly on the “Needs Met” scale to retain your spot on the top search engine result pages. The only way to manage this feat is to follow SEO best practices.


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