Google seemingly embraces AI dogfooding with gutso — cancels huge contract which could see thousands of quality rater jobs terminated and change SEO forever

Google Search on phone
(Image credit: Solen Feyissa/Unsplash)

Google has cancelled a significant contract with Appen, an Australian data services company, in a move that could potentially result in the termination of thousands of quality rater jobs. 

Appen, which provides a substantial number of third-party search quality raters for Google, was reportedly blindsided by the termination notice, and is expected to result in a loss of $82.8 million in revenue for the company. 

Google's quality raters play a crucial role in assessing the quality of Google search results. While they do not directly influence the results, their work helps evaluate the performance of Google's various search ranking systems.

Is this just the start?

This decision, set to take effect on March 19, 2024, could have a major impact on Search Engine Optimization (SEO). 

It is unclear whether Google plans to cancel contracts with other partners that provide search quality raters or if it intends to replace these raters with others from different partners. Speculation is rife however, that Google might eventually replace all quality raters with AI, a move that aligns with recent layoffs in the Google Ads team

The termination of the contract with Appen could signal a significant shift in Google's approach to improving search quality. For over a decade, human search quality raters have been integral to Google's process. If replaced by AI, the quality of search results could be affected, although the extent of this impact remains uncertain.

A Google spokesperson told Search Engine Land "Our decision to end the contract was made as part of our ongoing effort to evaluate and adjust many of our supplier partnerships across Alphabet to ensure our vendor operations are as efficient as possible.”"

This move was first spotted by Cyrus Shepard on X.

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Wayne Williams

Wayne Williams is a freelancer writing news for TechRadar Pro. He has been writing about computers, technology, and the web for 30 years. In that time he wrote for most of the UK’s PC magazines, and launched, edited and published a number of them too.