Google to cut thousands of search quality rater jobs after dropping contract with Appen
Appen, an Australian data services company that Google has contracted with for a large number of its third-party search quality raters, has been notified by Google that its contract is ending on March 19, 2024. Appen said it had no prior notice and would result in a loss of $82.8m of revenue at a gross margin of 26% for the company.
What the search quality raters do. Google’s quality raters are used by outside consultants hired by Google to assess the quality of the Google search results. They do not directly influence the search results, and quality raters cannot downgrade or upgrade a specific site in Google Search.
“As a reminder, these guidelines are what are used by our search raters to help evaluate the performance of our various search ranking systems, and their ratings don’t directly influence ranking. The guidelines share important considerations for what content is helpful for people when using Google Search. Our page on how to create helpful, people-first content summarizes these concepts for creators to help them self-assess their own content to be successful in Google Search,” Google added.
What does this mean. Appen is one of the few sources that Google uses to contract with search quality raters. It seems, based on the almost $83 million revenue, that Google has contracted Appen for a couple of thousand raters alone. Google has said it has written it has about 16,000 search quality raters in total, so this would be a nice percentage of those quality raters.
Is Google going to cancel its contracts with its other partners that source these search quality raters? We are not sure. Is Google going to replace these quality raters with other human quality raters from those other partners? We are not sure. Is Google going to replace all the quality raters eventually with AI instead? That is what many are speculating. We, again, do not know.
Dawn Anderson, one of our brightest contributors here, did speculate these changes would happen months ago. And now with many from the Google Ads team being laid off and replaced with AI, it does make sense.
Why we care. Human search quality raters have been a part of Google’s overall process for improving Google’s search quality for well over a dozen years. Is this move a big pivot from using humans for this process to using AI for this process? It is hard to know.
Will this result in poorer search quality in the future? Again, hard to know but time will tell.
Hat tip to Cyrus Shepard for spotting this: