Linda Buquet

Local Search Expert
Jun 28, 2012
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Google's latest version of the Google Quality Ratings Guide was leaked last week.
(It's a totally confidential internal Google document.)

I got my hands on a copy and have been digging in. :)

For those unaware, Google has a HUGE team of humans (Mom and Pops, not techies) that they train to evaluate the search results which in turn helps Google ensure the algo is working as it should and I assume the data the raters feed Google also feeds the algo corrections that need to be made.

So getting your hands on this doc (which hardly anyone has access to) can help you understand the inner workings of the algo and how it scores websites.


I'm going to share the most important things I've found in the past week regarding the Quality Ratings Guide, including a MUST WATCH VIDEO (below) that explains it all. (I'll share a copy of the actual guide in the Private Pro forum for my training clients, but can't share it publicly or Google might pull it.)

I read these every time they are leaked. This one is a brand new version, rewritten from the ground up, not just refreshed or edited. (Probably reflective of the huge changes in the algo, Hummingbird, etc.)

MUCH of the FOCUS is on E-A-T, which is a website?s ?expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness?. Things like social, where and what you publish, what's on the contact and about page, even forum profiles all contribute.

Jennifer Slegg, AKA Jenstar was the 1st to discover or at least publish any insights and she's been doing a series of posts, breaking it down.

<a href="">Google Rewrites Quality Rating Guide ? What SEOs Need to Know</a>

The new version 5 is just three months old, and shows how Google is placing much more emphasis on their knowledge graph style results that seem to be taking over the Google search results, as well as reputation, authority, and of course, the case of advertisements on a page.

Google is now putting a high emphasis on sites that are considered to have a high level of expertise, authoritativeness or trustworthiness. This is something that Google has been working on in their algorithms for some time, and shouldn?t be much of a surprise for webmasters to see this.

Lacking in E-A-T

Google?s brand new emphasis in the new Quality Rater?s Handbook is the idea of E-A-T, which is a website?s ?expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness?.

Likewise, Google is stressing that sites that lack expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness should be awarded the Low rating when a page or site is being assigned a rating by one of their quality raters. And more importantly, Google says that lacking a certain amount of E-A-T is enough of a reason for a rater to give any page a low quality rating.

This means that webmasters will need to do what they can to ensure their sites pass the newly minted E-A-T test.

I gave you a long snippet above to sort of set the stage, but I don't want to try to break down each one or and Jenn did lots of work on these posts, so you should just head over to read if interested in getting deeper into the mind of Google and how she rates/ranks sites.

<a href="">All About Supplementary Content in the Google Quality Rater?s Guidelines</a> (From Jen)

<a href="">The Role of Reputation in the Google Quality Rating Guidelines</a> (From Jen)

VIDEO with Jennifer re the Google Quality Rating Guide
With the Stellar team at Internet Marketing Ninjas

Excellent! Tons of actionable insights!

<iframe width="640" height="360" src="//" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>​

Here is the video transcript:

<a href="">New Google Quality Rating Guide: Reputation and Expertise Get Hotter!</a>

We are hanging out with Internet Marketing Ninjas today and we?ve got Jim Boykin, CEO Internet Marketing Ninjas, Ann Smarty who in charge of communities and social for us. My name is Thom Craver. I?m the field development and IT.

And are wonderful guess today is Jen Slegg, search marketing consultant extraordinaire.

I just took a screenshot of the LOCAL part of the doc. Here is is:

<img src="" alt="QualityGuidelines" width="65%" />​

I'll post a link to the doc and a little more details in the Private Pro forum later this afternoon, but like I said it's a confidential Google doc, so I can't post it in public.

But Jen will continue to break it down in future posts and told me if there is enough interest. she'll break down the parts that relate to Local, so watch her blog.

One small tip I picked up is that to help Google tie together authority and boost trust, it would be wise on your about or contact us page to add a list of places you publish or links to posts on authority sites or even your profiles on industry forums. ;-)

Read the links and watch the video then please share your thoughts below.

<meta property="og:type" content="article"><meta property="og:title" content=""><meta property="og:description" content="Google's Google Quality Ratings Guide was leaked last week and I got my hands on a copy and have been digging in to the LOCAL parts">
<meta property="og:image" content="">

Linda Buquet

Local Search Expert
Jun 28, 2012
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The post above was getting pretty long, so decided to split this new resource off.

Dejan SEO did research into the specific site examples raters were given in the doc.

The newly leaked 2014 Search Quality Rater Guidelines from Google don't give specific URLs as examples of good and bad websites but instead use screenshots and text explanations. We went through the trouble of finding actual pages corresponding to screenshots and decided to share it with you guys.

Here it is:

NOTE: I just did a quick skim and only found a couple local sites but this doc is about quality, not specifically local - so it all still helps you understand how Google thinks!

h/t Mike Blumenthal - discovered this on his G+ post.

Linda Buquet

Local Search Expert
Jun 28, 2012
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So sorry. I was going to try to dig into the local parts to see if there were any good insights I could share. I only scanned that section over the weekend.

Just went back to dig in and now the doc is behind a paywall. But I took a screenshot of the local part of the outline above because the outline still shows, the rest is just blurred out unless you pay now.

It's not that I mind paying, it isn't much. It's just that now I don't have time to deal with it. I'm behind schedule on my my new expanded Advanced Google My Business Training and have a deadline to get the 1st 1/2 of the videos uploaded and the training docs finished in the next 2 days, because I have a waiting list.

So when I share this with the Pros in the private forum I'll see if anyone has time to dig in and do a write up on the local part and then will share it here in this thread if there is anything noteworthy.

Linda Buquet

Local Search Expert
Jun 28, 2012
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Attn Pros: Just shared the link in the Private Pro forum. Post title is similar to this one.


Apr 16, 2014
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I've gone through 33 pages so far (and half a bag of Twizzlers) and here's some interesting tidbits I've found:

2.5 Understanding the Website:
?When there is a disagreement between what the website says about itself and what independent sources say about the website, we?ll trust the independent sources.?

*We kind of already knew this, but having it in the first 10 pages of the manual it re-affrims that making sure all citations out there are accurate and that the name listed with the phone company (that citation sources pull info. from) is accurate is VERY important.*

When the website says on thing about itself, but reputable external sources disagree with what the website says, trust the external sources
*(AGAIN, external resources are very important)*

2.5.1. Finding a Homepage
Links to the home page: ?Home? ?Main Page? ?Main? Logo

*This is how Google describes how to find the home page. I think it's important that websites don't use other text such as keyword text, like "Atlanta Dentist" to link to the home page, instead of "Home".*

2.5.2 Finding Who is Responsible for the Website and Who Created the Content on the Page
  • Who is responsible for the website
  • Who created the content on the page you are evaluating
Found in the ?Contact Us? or ?About Us? page
**Your website should have at least one of these, preferably both! They also mention as much contact information as possible, where it makes sense (local business). This means Address, Phone, Fax and Email (or form) contact methods.

2.6 Website Maintenance
Webmasters need to make sure their websites function well for users as web browsers change.

*Make sure your website works in Chrome, Exploder (Internet Explorer), Safari, Firefox. Those are the main ones I think people use the most.*

?you must also look for outside, independent reputation information about the website
?Prestigious awards?. Are strong evidence of very positive reputation?

**How about listing awards your clients won on their G+ page, or About Us page? Or make an entire page dedicated to awards they've won/media they've been mentioned in!**

Look for reviews, references, recommendations by experts, news articles, and other credible information created/written by individuals about the website

Recommendations from expert sources, such as professional societies are strong evidence of very positive reputation

**Again, they trust external resources over the website itself. Is your client listed in relevant professional socities membership databases?**

4.9 Examples
Local Businesses
?This website is highly authoritative because it is about itself?

*Woo hoo! A local shout-out. This was a Local fish & chips restaurant example. The guideline says that it's automatically highly authoritative because it's about itself. So tell your clients to talk about themselves!!! (Preferably before other people talk about them ;) ).*

I'll keep posting updates as I find more juicey details :)

Linda Buquet

Local Search Expert
Jun 28, 2012
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Hi Kate,

Thanks so much for expanding on what you shared in the Private Pro forum for everyone out here. Much appreciated and great insights!

I still have not had time to read it.

But FYI all, rossicone shared a free version she found in the Pro forum a couple days ago and I just have not had time to share.

Looks like WebPro news bought the version I told you about and displayed it. Here it is:

<a href="">Latest Google Search Quality Rating Guidelines Leaked | WebProNews</a>

Please share if you read it and find any other important tidbits.

Thanks again Kate! Hope you enjoyed the licorice! :p
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