Google's Quality Rating Guidelines Leaked, Again

Oct 20, 2011 • 8:31 am | comments (22) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

Download Google's Quality Rating GuidelinesOn Tuesday, I posted the latest version of the Google Search Quality Rating Guidelines after an anonymous reader sent it to us.

This version is labelled version 3.18 and dated March 30, 2011. Since before this document, the earliest version I had was from back in April of 2007.

You can download the 2+ MB PDF file, which is 125 pages filled with Google insider nuggets by clicking here (It has been removed) but you can read the summary of the document at PotPieGirl. . The PDF is from Pot Pie Girl's blog post.

Most of the document goes through how these Google quality raters should use the quality scoring system. But it also spends a tremendous amount of time explaining how to classify pages and images and documents. This information can be very useful for SEOs in understanding what Google thinks quality versus non quality pages are, spam vs non spam and so on.

Hat tip to E Brundige for sending this our way, she spotted this at Pot Pie Girl.

Forum discussion at Google +.

Image from MedusArt/Shutterstock.

Note: This story was written earlier this week and scheduled to be published today.

Previous story: Yahoo Organic Search Now Powered By Bing Everywhere*


Dennis Sievers

10/20/2011 12:47 pm

Its still available:

Bill Ross

10/20/2011 03:15 pm

I had an opportunity to speak with a former Google quality rater this morning.  She said... "But it's not as "crucial" to the ratings as you would think. It's important.  Basically, when you log in to work for them, you click on a link and you are looking for specific things on the website, not the site as a whole". She then goes on to tell me "If you can be ranked "vital" it definitely helps your site. If you rank useful, it's like saying "this site had some good information, but compared to the other sites for that keyword, it's only okay and wouldn't really be a great resource. But the Vital rating basically says that the content is so relevant that anyone searching for that term, under almost any circumstances would find value in the information on the site." @billross

josh bachynski (SEO)

10/20/2011 04:03 pm

Interesting how the rater's guideline gets leaked right around when analytics gets reduced in usefulness...


10/20/2011 06:11 pm

Thanks. I snagged it and have gotten through page 35 so far. Very interesting stuff.


10/20/2011 06:54 pm

booyah.  thanks awesome link.

Michael Martinez

10/20/2011 09:51 pm

These guides are leaked several times a year.  This time it was simply discussed publicly, apparently by people who were unaware of what would happen.


10/20/2011 10:18 pm

I can't believe that those raters' guidelines were left out on Amazon's cloud on purpose for us to find just before Google started cloaking analytics data. It's a coincidence, or some sort of cosmic karma. I think Googlebot went somewhere it shouldn't, and we reaped the benefits of Google accidentally spying on itself. (That is, the guidelines were only discovered when somebody saw them turn up in Google SERPs.) I was feeling some remorse for passing this tip onto Mr. Schwartz, but after what Google's done to us today, I feel less guilty. How the heck is it an invasion of anyone's privacy for us to know what our visitors are searching for, if we don't know who's doing the searching?


10/20/2011 10:40 pm

Thanks, link still works!


10/21/2011 03:35 am

thanks, Dennis!


10/21/2011 04:04 am

If anyone is interested, I wrote a post summarizing what I thought was the most interesting facts in the article in regards to webspam.  You can read it here:

Marie Haynes

10/21/2011 04:41 am

That is one weird website....why would it be containing a Google document?  Is this just a linkbaiting scam?


10/21/2011 05:56 am

Some of the example links have redirects to the newer version of the page, some links have 2007 in the url. My guess is that's the 2007 version, because  anybody can change the dates on a pdf, so I'm not convinced at all about it freshness. Nevertheless it's still useful.

Nathaniel Bailey

10/21/2011 09:29 am

"Bandwidth Limit Exceeded" on  the link to PotPieGirl :( Anyone got a copy of the "2+ MB PDF" download? Would be interesting to read. Thanks Marie, I will defo be having a read of your article in a bit :)

Nathaniel Bailey

10/21/2011 09:33 am

Dont worry about sharing a link to download the PDF, I see Marie has linked to a copy of it in here post below, good work Doc :)


10/21/2011 01:46 pm

You can find the entire document here:

Johnathan Niles

10/21/2011 07:08 pm

You know, it's getting increasingly difficult to sort fact from fiction with google seo. Perhaps it's meant to be this way.


10/21/2011 07:20 pm

These guidelines bring up so many questions for me. With millions and millions of websites, how can reviewers manually evaluate websites using these guidelines? Do they only evaluate the top 10 sites that rank or a popular keyword? Suppose they downgrade your site base on these evaluations and you change your site. How long would it take their evaluators to take a second look?


10/22/2011 09:46 am

I haven't seen a worser document than this. "Qulaity guideline" my foot...

greg nazvanov

10/23/2011 04:29 pm

very confusing,  by the time I read it they will change again

Pozycjonowanie Gdynia

10/24/2011 06:59 pm

You cant belive in all you read;) All must be tested;)

Mae Loraine Jacobs

10/24/2011 11:23 pm

Wow, 125 pages. That's a lot of information! I would definitely find time to read it, but in the meantime, I'd rather focus on providing good quality content and maximizing social media tools for promotion besides depending on Google. So far, this strategy has worked for me. 

Dave Fowler

11/01/2011 10:26 pm

I see Google put pressure on Pot Pie Girl to remove the link to the document. Maybe she should have submitted it to Google Book Search; they've demonstrated little regard for others' copyright there. 

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