Recently leaked documents confirm that Google employs a huge number of people that do nothing but visit websites and evaluate them to help improve Google’s search ranking algorithm. While definitive numbers aren’t available, industry estimates estimate that Google (through several subcontracting companies) employs between 12,000 – 15,000 people, who work from home for between $10 – $12 per hour.
How many sites are being reviewed? It’s difficult to know. But if one human reviewer visits 2 websites per minute (one site every 30 seconds), and works 2 hours per day, five days a week for 50 weeks of the year, they would be able to review 60,000 websites over the course of the year. Scaled to 12,000 people, that means that humans could sift through 720 million websites per year. The cost of paying 12,000 people to work 2 hours a day, 5 days a week for a year? About $60 million. Which sounds like a lot of money, but Google’s revenue exceeds $30 billion.
So why is Google paying so much money to review websites? Google’s mission from the beginning has been to provide their users with the most useful, most relevant information possible. The human website reviewers offer a way to test the Google search algorithm, and make sure that what appears high in Google search results are relevant sites that (a) are not spammy, and (b) are useful to end consumers.
According to SEO Moz, these humans are “Google’s fact checkers – the people who work to make sure the algorithm is doing what it’s supposed to do. Data from [human] quality raters not only serves as quality control on existing [search engine rank positions], but it helps validate potential algorithm changes. When you consider that Google tested over 13,000 algorithm changes last year, it’s a pretty important job.”
How Are Sites Ranked?
Sites are ranked according to how useful they are to the end user. If your site has unique, well-written content that educates people, it will do well. If your site is mostly comprised of vague marketing messages (“We have solutions”), or serves just to promote your product, it won’t do as well.
How Can You Survive the Review Process?
Google’s fact checkers like to see sites that:
- Are well written, unique content that engages readers.
- Contain compelling images, especially ones that you can open up and view more detail.
- Displays video, especially videos embedded from YouTube with detailed captions.
- Load quickly. People have little patience for a slow loading site.
- Have fresh content, added each week (or day), that gives readers a reason to come back.
- Does not contain technical HTML coding errors.
If your site follows these guidelines, you should be fine.
If you’re worried, please email me back and we’d be happy to do a review for you.