Not quite the fully autonomous searching machine, Google still relies on the human touch to perfect its search algorithms and ranking factors. Over 10,000 people are contracted by Google as 'search quality raters', conducting reviews on the calibre of pages in search, and reporting on the highest quality results. The rating guidelines which these search quality raters follow have recently been revised. In these updates, we can glean insight into some of the features Google may be starting to pay more attention to.
One of the most interesting additions is an increased focus on the reputation, not just of the website, but also of the individuals producing site content. Jennifer Slegg, a frequent commentator on the quality rater guidelines, has observed that "if content is created by someone with a great reputation, it makes sense for Google to rank that content higher than from someone with a bad reputation since it is generally a better user experience for the searcher."
What does this mean for webmasters?
As website authority and content relevancy have long been established ranking factors, will content contributors now have to meet these standards too? If so, and if Google is indeed using contributor reputation to determine content quality and relevancy, features such as author bios could influence rank.
As such, ensure your contributor and author bios evidence the reputation and validity of their knowledge in their field. Experiment with internal links to link up an individual's bio across multiple sites, if they're an established contributor. Or ensure that the bio is optimised for their specialism and reflects their past achievements and experience.
While quality raters cannot influence Google search results directly, the data is used to inform algorithm updates.