Search engines use complicated algorithms to determine the results you see.
For example, when you type “puppies playing with kittens” into a search engine box, a half-million possibly relevant web pages are searched using various criteria, and a second later, a list of videos or articles that match the criteria pop up onto your screen. The links on the top will likely be advertisements, while the others offer you websites hosting material that matches your request. The more information you type into your search, the more detailed your results will be.
But search engines don’t always provide quality matches.
To offer significant and relevant matches, the search engines require actual humans to examine the results and judge them for quality and usefulness. The human input is then programmed into the search algorithms to provide more directed results.
The people who research the search engine results are known as search engine evaluators. In some cases they are called personal ad evaluators. They get paid to review search results, and they almost always work at home.
As remote jobs go, this is one that provides relatively easy work that offers true results to the hiring company.
What a Search Engine Evaluator Does
A search engine evaluator examines internet search results to determine the accuracy of web search results, how useful the results pages are, and the relevance of the search results to the topic requested. Every employer has different requirements for the position, but a search engine evaluator will be required to input qualitative data measurements and be able to speak to the results found.
How to Make Money as a Search Engine Evaluator
It is possible to get a full-time job as a search engine evaluator, and Ziprecruiter estimates the pay for that position to average almost $55,000 a year. But a freelance position usually pays between $12 and $15 per hour, according to Glassdoor.
To become a freelance search engine evaluator, you must take a qualifying test to determine your experience with search engines. Some companies conduct this test digitally, while others will conduct a phone interview with you.
You will be asked to sign a non-disclosure agreement so you cannot divulge to others the keyword searches and results you find. You will also be asked to prove the capability of your internet connection wherever you plan on doing the work.
Why You Might Like Working as a Search Engine Evaluator
1. You get to work at home.
This is the perfect remote job, because there is no reason for you to be required to go into an office to conduct internet searches.
2. You can work when you like.
Some companies want you to work certain days, but usually you set your own hours and take days off whenever you want.
3. You can work as much as you want (up to a limit).
You generally have to work a minimum number of hours per month to stay enrolled, but it isn’t too much. Also, you can work for 10 minutes on a task, log out for a break and then work 20 minutes later.
4. Many search engine evaluators have said they like the pay.
It’s better than minimum wage in many states, and you don’t have any commuting costs.
5. You get exposed to new ideas and topics.
You will be asked to search for information that you would not normally be interested in. You will become conversational on a number of new topics.
Why Search Engine Evaluator Jobs Might Not Be for You
1. There are no job benefits.
You are hired as an independent contractor, so you do not get health insurance, vacation pay, or even unemployment coverage. You can be fired for any reason.
2. You have to pay your own taxes.
As an independent contractor, you’ll be responsible for all taxes. You may have to make quarterly estimated tax payments, and you’ll have to file a Schedule C at tax time. You can probably write off some computer-related supplies as business expenses, but you need to keep track of everything.
3. You have to track your hours.
If you don’t keep close track of the hours you work, you won’t be paid for them. You’ll log in online, but this is just used by the company to check against the hours you submit on your monthly invoice.
4. You’ll probably get paid just once a month.
Some workers complain about the slow and infrequent pay. Typically you work for the month, then you submit an invoice, and then you wait several weeks to get paid.
5. The work is irregular.
Lack of steady work is a very common complaint. This is not a full-time, regular job.
Where to Find Search Engine Evaluator Jobs
One of the easiest ways to find a legit work-from-home job is The Penny Hoarder’s own WFH Portal — you can search for “evaluator” as a keyword.
Here’s what to expect from some of the most popular companies that hire search engine evaluators:
Qualifications: Appen’s landing page says there are no requirements other than a commitment of 10 hours a week. But it does have opportunities for those who are fluent in a language other than English.
Training/testing: You’ll have two chances to pass the initial qualifying exam. Depending on the assignment, you may be required to pass additional language assessment exams.
Payment method: As an independent contractor, you’ll need to invoice Appen once a month. Payments are made via direct deposit within 30 days of receipt. You can make as much as $16 per hour at Appen.
Equipment requirements: You need to provide your own personal computer running Google Chrome. Additionally, you’ll need to have high-speed internet access and up-to-date anti-virus and anti-spyware software.
Good to know: Completing the online registration process and passing the online qualification exam typically takes 14 days or less, according to the company. You won’t make any money until then, and considering you won’t receive your first payment until almost a month later, this is not the way to go if you need to make money this week.
Qualifications: Jobs typically require you to be bilingual and have a strong background in the country’s culture and current events. Many require you to be a resident of the specific country you’re evaluating for.
Training/testing: For most roles, you’ll need to take an online assessment test before you can apply. One contractor reported the unpaid test took 8 hours to complete.
Payment method: Pay rates depend on the job — some are task-based while others are per hour. Payments are made via direct deposit.
Equipment requirements: You’ll need to provide your own equipment — typically a PC or laptop and a high-speed internet connection.
Good to know: Although the company has jobs available around the world, the roles are often specific to that country, so if you move, you might lose the gig. The good news is that if you want to quit, you only need to provide one day’s notice.
Qualifications: Most jobs have language and residency requirements. You’ll also need in-depth knowledge of the country, including news, pop culture, business, sports and entertainment.
Training/testing: Tasks take a maximum of 15 minutes to qualify, according to the company website.
Payment method: Pay for the U.S. position is an average of $8 to $11 per hour, plus bonuses.
Equipment requirements: You’ll need to have a personal computer running Windows OS and a stable, high-speed internet connection.
Good to know: Many job postings note that you’ll work 10 to 25 hours per week on a flexible schedule.
Qualifications: Open to U.S. residents who are familiar with current and historical business news, media, sports and cultural affairs in the U.S.
Training/testing: You will be required to go through a recruitment process.
Payment method: Monthly. Glassdoor says TELUS pays a median rate of $25 per hour.
Equipment requirements: The one specific mention on the Telus form is that you need to have a smartphone to scan barcodes that get you into your assignments. Other firms require the same qualification.
One employment option missing from this list is Google. The search giant calls it evaluators “ad quality raters,” but they have essentially the same function. However, the company doesn’t hire raters directly on its career page; instead it screens applicants through one of the above companies or another outside job portal, like FlexJobs.
Kent McDill is a veteran journalist who has specialized in personal finance topics since 2013. He is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder.
Steve Gillman, a Penny Hoarder contributor, contributed to this post.