Reconsiderations

Reconsidering search appeals: how to protect both the webmaster and the searcher.

When:
August 2012 - December 2015
What:
GLOBAL LEAD (PROGRAM MANAGER, FRONT-END DEVELOPER)

Background:

I managed all global operations of Reconsideration Requests. The Trust & Safety Search team at Google takes manual action on sites that violate Google’s webmaster guidelines, and webmasters of those sites may appeal those actions by filing a reconsideration request.

Final Product:

As the lead of Reconsideration Requests, I shifted the focus of the manual process to a user-centric one.



Scalable + Intelligent

I was the front-end developer of an internal tool that streamlined the Reconsiderations workflow and led to an overall decrease in processing time. I also developed a new workflow that allowed for faster processing time and therefore saved the team’s FTE resources. In addition, I encouraged a user-focused bias towards innovation and action.

Satisfied:

I encouraged the team to put themselves in the shoes of webmasters applying for Reconsiderations. I led an effort to conduct user studies and ask real webmasters how they felt about Reconsiderations, and the results were frustrating.

One particular case in point was a user named Patricia:

We tell them what’s wrong, BUT we don’t tell them how to make it right. There are many good webmasters with limited tech skills who are unable to find the proper resources to fix their site.
We’re protecting one set of users, BUT we’re hurting another. The manual actions placed on webmasters’ sites to protect our search users can hurt their businesses.

A quick response time is good, BUT having a site fully fixed and reincluded is better.


What we realized was that real people’s livelihoods could be significantly impacted by our decisionmaking in Reconsiderations. Simply responding to a request quickly isn’t enough; the webmaster ultimately wants to have their site fixed.

Not to mention, 2015 saw a 180% increase in the number of sites getting hacked and a 300% increase in hacked site reconsideration requests. The numbers didn’t lie: the webmasters didn’t know how to fix their site from a hack.

Empowered:

Instead of simply rejecting an appeal with a rejection message, we switched it up. We added a “Note From Your Reviewer” feature, which attached a custom message written by real Googlers, that offered targeted and transparent advice on how to fix their site. The use of custom messaging went hand-in-hand with an increase in user satisfaction: in 2015, we sent a customized note to over 70% of webmasters whose hacked reconsideration request was rejected. Since the advent of custom messages, we saw a 29% decrease in the average amount of time from when a site receives a hacked manual action to the time when the webmaster cleans up and the manual action is removed.


An example of a custom message that we sent. These were appended on rejection messages sent with each request.

We also partnered with the Webmaster Outreach team to develop a hacked troubleshooter and a #NoHacked social media campaign, for which I designed the graphics.

#NoHacked: Educating webmasters to protect their websites


Awards

I was awarded:
  • 2 Product Quality Operations Gold Awards (one in 2013, one in 2015; both global departmental awards) for my front-end development work and operational leadership in improving the Reconsiderations process and driving user satisfaction
  • 1 spot bonus for my work in analyzing user reports from Reconsiderations