I made about $700 in one month for evaluating Google’s search engine. And Yahoo’s search engine. And Bing’s.
And the best part? Most of it is done while sitting at home in my pajamas.
What am I doing? Let me explain…
Search engines use complicated algorithms to determine the results you see. For example, if you type “Steve Gillman” into a Google search box, a half-million possibly-relevant web pages will be narrowed down using various criteria until a second later you see my smiling face. You’ll also see links to my personal website, my author page on Amazon and LinkedIn profiles for a bunch of guys who share my name.
But the search engines don’t always get it right…
They are full of errors, so they need real humans to look at the results and judge them for quality, relevancy and usefulness.
Then they can take this human input and design better search algorithms, ones that will even know “bey preg” means the searcher wants to know if Beyonce is pregnant again.
How to Make Money as a Search Engine Evaluator
The job is called “search engine evaluator.” When I was hired, I signed a non-disclosure agreement that limits what I can reveal about the specifics of the work and pay.
But a quick search of publicly available information shows that most companies pay workers in these positions between $8 and $15 per hour. You’re hired as an independent contractor, not an employee.
There are also qualifying tests you’ll have to take. I’ve done several of them, and they aren’t too difficult, but they can take a couple hours, and you won’t be paid for this time. Some companies also interview you by phone.
Without revealing too much, I can tell you some of the good and the bad things workers in these positions have said about the work. I can also tell you what I like and dislike about it.
Why You Might Like Working as a Search Engine Evaluator
1. You get to work at home.
The internet is full of false claims for stay-at-home jobs, but these are real positions that allow you to work in your pajamas if you want to. I love the 10-second commute from bedroom to office in the morning.
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. I put in a couple hours when I feel like it and then get back to my writing.
3. You can work a little or a lot.
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. I like to put in at least an hour at a time.
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 learn a lot about the world.
In the course of doing evaluations, I am always discovering things that are new. Recently I learned about American Dingoes (wild dogs in the south) and how to create presentations for free online.
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 be paid only once each 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 hard on the eyes.
This is my own complaint and not one I’ve heard from others. Staring at a computer screen can be tiring. I limit my sessions to no more than three hours to avoid eye strain.
6. The work is irregular.
Lack of steady work is a 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 often requires fluency in a language other than English for its assignments.
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.
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.
The company acquired Leapforce, another company known for hiring search engine evaluators, in 2017.
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.
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/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.
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.
I’ve seen nasty things said by former search engine evaluators about the companies for which they worked, but their complaints are almost always related to things they could foresee when they applied.
In other words they knew they might only get 15 hours of work some weeks, and they knew they wouldn’t be paid for training time, yet they complain.
I also recently read a post by a woman who has been very happy working for Leapforce, and she has had the position for four years. If you know what it means to be an independent contractor (tracking your hours, dealing with tax payments), you don’t need to be paid weekly, and you are OK having fewer hours some weeks and more others, this work can be a great way to make some money without leaving the house.
Steve Gillman is a Penny Hoarder contributor. Staff writer/editor Tiffany Wendeln Connors contributed to this post.