Google Australia has defended the role of human raters in its page ranks, claiming that the actions of one rater could not directly affect the placement of any individual site.
In an interview with business news site FT.com this week, Google engineer Amit Singhal said the company used "human raters to assess the quality of individual sites" to counter the abuse of page ranks.
The ranking model was questioned in the New York Times and ZDNet, where blogger Tom Foremski suggested that raters could "have the power to promote or even completely erase a site from the Google index".
But a Google Australia spokesman told iTnews this was not the case.
The so-called 'Quality Raters' are not engineers - rather, Google hires users like University students to provide feedback on their search experience, thereby rating Google's search algorithm.
Feedback is then aggregated and provided to Google's engineers, who tweak the algorithm accordingly.
"Google uses human raters as a quality check to help ensure algorithmic ranking changes we make are positive gain for users worldwide," the spokesman told iTnews.
"These raters do not impact the rankings of any individual site.
"We do however, enforce our quality standard for individual sites and we're and transparent about those guidelines listed on Google webmaster tools site."
The spokesman would not disclose details of the recruitment and employment of the raters, declining to specify if any were located in Australia.
Google is currently the most used search engine in the world, accounting for 82.9 percent of Australian internet searches in March, according to information services company Experian Hitwise.