There’s been a significant amount of speculation about the motives behind Google’s firing of Appen, the company that provides Search Quality Raters, with many expressing this may be the dawn of a new era of AI search quality raters. The facts however are clear about the meaning behind these recent events.
There are two ideas being talked about in the SEO social media world about what this all means:
- Google doesn’t need quality raters anymore.
- The firing of the search quality raters may mean that Google plans to roll out AI search quality raters at scale.
Are Search Quality Raters Going Away?
Google’s search quality raters are not going away. Google employs multiple companies to provide search quality ratings services, it’s not just one company.
There are threads on Reddit for example that mention Telus and RWS that apparently offer search quality raters to Google.
So the idea that Google’s no longer going to use search quality raters is unfounded, not true.
Some speculate that the reason why Google fired Appen may have something to do with the Appen workers having been encouraged by a Google workers union to negotiate for higher wages (according to a report on Forbes).
So if Google is going to cut costs, the speculation goes, it makes sense to cut the Appen workers since they’re close to the unionized workers at Google.
But that might be a coincidence.
Google announced it is laying off workers again, including from engineering teams and it could be that the Appen workers losing their jobs was just a part of the overall cost cutting.
Will The Raters Be Replaced By AI?
Some SEOs were speculating that the firing of the Appen workers was a sign that Google might replace the quality raters with AI quality raters.
Some search marketers opined that Google doesn’t have the ability to replace the search quality raters with AI now but that they probably will be able to in the near future.
Not only that, some search marketers speculated that it would be bad news for publishers if AI replaced human search quality raters because AI would be able scale the quality ratings to the entire web.
And the thing about SEOs worrying about Google AI search quality raters, expressing fear of a nightmare scenario and speculation about whether it’s even possible to have an AI that can rate webpages for search quality is that machines, including AI, have already been in use for years at Google for rating webpages for search quality.
For example, Google has the Helpful Content System, the Reviews System and SpamBrain all rate websites for search quality at scale.
So it’s not a matter of whether Google will replace Search Quality Raters with AI, at this point Google isn’t replacing them at all, humans are still at work.
But Google already has AI and algorithms that rate websites for search quality. It’s already happening.
Will Google Eventually Get Rid Of Search Quality Raters?
Something to consider is that training AI requires datasets and the work that the search quality raters do can provide data for machines to learn from, in addition to their stated job of rating the search results of new algorithms.
What we do know at this point is that Google isn’t getting rid of the human search quality raters and that Google already has systems that rate webpages for search quality.
The sky isn’t falling.
It’s just another fizzy week in SEO-land.
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