Importance of A Website in Digital Marketing

Understanding How Websites and Web Pages Work

Business owners require an in-depth understanding of websites. We’ll start with the basics. Along the way, we’ll share important information about Page Quality rating, so please read through this section even if you are a website expert!

Important Definitions

Here are some important definitions:

A webpage is connected to the World Wide Web and can be viewed or “visited” using a web browser (e.g., Chrome), a browser on your phone, or a search app. In the 1990s, webpage content was mostly text and links. Today, webpage content includes many forms of media (such as images, videos, etc.) and functionality (such as online shopping features, email, calculator functionality, online games, etc.).

A URL is a character string that your web browser uses to “find” and display a webpage. Page Quality rating doesn’t require you to have in-depth understanding of the structure of URLs, i.e., you don’t need to know the difference between host, domain, etc. But if you are interested, see here to read more.

A website or site is a group of World Wide Web pages usually containing hyperlinks to each other and made available online by an individual, company, educational institution, government, or organization. Popular websites include Facebook, Wikipedia, Yahoo, YouTube, etc.

Note: In these guidelines, we will use the word “website” to refer to a collection of pages owned and controlled by a single entity (individual, business, etc.). But we will also use “website” to refer to major “independent” sections (or hosts) of some websites that were created to achieve separate purposes.  For example, the Yahoo website is organized into different sections (or hosts), such as Yahoo Finance (, Yahoo Mail (, Yahoo Sports (, etc. Each of these has its own purpose. It’s OK to refer to each of these sections as a website; for example, the Yahoo Finance website and the Yahoo Sports website. You may also refer to pages on Yahoo Finance or Yahoo Sports as belonging to the Yahoo website.

A homepage of a website is the main page of the site. It is usually the first page that users see when the site loads. For example, is the homepage of the Apple site, is the homepage of the Yahoo company site, and is the homepage of Yahoo Finance. You can usually find the homepage of a website by clicking on a “home” link or logo link on sub-pages of a website.

A sub-page on a website is any page on the site other than the homepage. For example, is a sub-page on the Apple website, and is a sub-page on the Yahoo Finance website.

A webmaster is the person who is responsible for maintaining a website.

Important: You must be very comfortable exploring websites, both by clicking links and modifying URLs in the address bar of your web browser. Become a website detective and explorer!

What is the Purpose of a Webpage?

The purpose of a page is the reason or reasons why the page was created. Every page on the Internet is created for a purpose, or for multiple purposes. Most pages are created to be helpful for users, thus having a beneficial purpose. Some pages are created merely to make money, with little or no effort to help users. Some pages are even created to cause harm to users. The first step in understanding a page is figuring out its purpose.

Why is it important to determine the purpose of the page for Business Owners?

  • The goal is to determine how well a page achieves its purpose. In order to assign a rating, you must understand the purpose of the page and sometimes the website.
  • By understanding the purpose of the page, you’ll better understand what criteria are important to consider when evaluating that particular page.
  • Websites and pages should be created to help users. Websites and pages that are created with intent to harm users, deceive users, or make money with no attempt to help users, should receive the Lowest rating. More on this later.

As long as the page is created to help users, we will not consider any particular page purpose or type to be higher quality than another. For example, encyclopedia pages are not necessarily higher quality than humor pages.

Important: There are highest quality and lowest quality webpages of all different types and purposes: shopping pages, news pages, forum pages, video pages, pages with error messages, PDFs, images, gossip pages, humor pages, homepages, and all other types of pages. The type of page does not determine the rating—you have to understand the purpose of the page to determine the rating.

Common helpful or beneficial page purposes include (but are not limited to):

  • To share information about a topic.
  • To share personal or social information.
  • To share pictures, videos, or other forms of media.
  • To express an opinion or point of view.
  • To entertain.
  • To sell products or services.
  • To allow users to post questions for other users to answer.
  • To allow users to share files or to download software.

Here are a few examples where it is easy to understand the purpose of the page:

Type of PagePurpose of the Page
News website homepageTo inform users about recent or important events.
Shopping pageTo sell or give information about the product.
Video pageTo share a cute video of a cat.
Currency converter pageTo calculate equivalent amounts in different currencies.

Here is an example (OmNomNomNom Page) of a helpful page where the purpose of the page is not as obvious. At first glance, this page may seem pointless or strange. However, it is a page from a humorous site that encourages users to post photos with mouths drawn on them. The purpose of the page is humor or artistic expression. This page has a helpful or beneficial purpose. Even though the About page on this website is not very helpful, the website explains itself on its FAQ page.

Your Money or Your Life (YMYL) Pages

Some types of pages could potentially impact the future happiness, health, financial stability, or safety of users. We call such pages “Your Money or Your Life” pages, or YMYL. The following are examples of YMYL pages:

  • Shopping or financial transaction pages: webpages that allow users to make purchases, transfer money, pay bills, etc. online (such as online stores and online banking pages).
  • Financial information pages: webpages that provide advice or information about investments, taxes, retirement planning, home purchase, paying for college, buying insurance, etc.
  • Medical information pages: webpages that provide advice or information about health, drugs, specific diseases or conditions, mental health, nutrition, etc.
  • Legal information pages: webpages that provide legal advice or information on topics such as divorce, child custody, creating a will, becoming a citizen, etc.
  • News articles or public/official information pages important for having an informed citizenry: webpages that include information about local/state/national government processes, policies, people, and laws; disaster response services; government programs and social services; news about important topics such as international events, business, politics, science, and technology; etc. Please use your judgment and knowledge of your locale. Keep in mind that not all news articles are necessarily considered YMYL.
  • Other: there are many other topics that you may consider YMYL, such as child adoption, car safety information, etc. Please use your judgment.

We have very high Page Quality rating standards for YMYL pages because low quality YMYL pages could potentially negatively impact users’ happiness, health, financial stability, or safety.

Understanding Webpage Content

All of the content on a webpage can be classified as one of the following: Main Content (MC), Supplementary Content (SC), or Advertisements/Monetization (Ads). In order to understand the purpose of a webpage and do PQ rating, you will need to be able to distinguish among these different parts of the page.

Webpage design can be complicated, so make sure to click around and explore the page. See what kind of content is behind the tabs and test out the interactive page features. Content behind the tabs may be considered part of the MC, SC, or Ads, depending on what the content is.

Identifying the Main Content (MC)

Main Content is any part of the page that directly helps the page achieve its purpose. Webmasters directly control the MC

of the page (except for user-generated content). MC can be text, images, videos, page features (e.g., calculators, games), or it can be user-generated content such as videos, reviews, articles, etc. that users have added or uploaded to the page. Note that tabs on some pages lead to even more information (e.g., customer reviews) and can sometimes be considered part of the MC of the page.

The MC also includes the title at the top of the page (example). Descriptive MC titles allow users to make informed decisions about what pages to visit. Helpful titles summarize the MC on the page.

Type of Page and PurposeMC Highlighted in Yellow
News website homepage: the purpose is to inform users about recent or important events.MC – News Homepage
News article page: the purpose is to communicate information about an event or news topic.MC – News Article
Store product page: the purpose is to sell or give information about the product.
● Content behind the Reviews, Shipping, and Safety Information tabs are considered to be part of the MC.
MC – Shopping Page
Video page: the purpose is to share a video about cats.MC – Video Page
Currency converter page: the purpose is to calculate equivalent amounts in different currencies.MC – Currency Converter
Blog post page: the purpose is to share music used on a TV show.MC – Blog Post Page
Search engine homepage: the purpose is to allow users to enter a query and search the Internet.MC – Search Engine Homepage
Bank login page: the purpose is to allow users to log in to bank online.MC – Bank Login Page

Identifying the Supplementary Content (SC)

Supplementary Content contributes to a good user experience on the page, but does not directly help the page achieve its purpose. SC is controlled by webmasters and is an important part of the user experience. One common type of SC is navigation links that allow users to visit other parts of the website. Note that in some cases, content behind tabs may be considered part of the SC of the page.

Sometimes the easiest way to identify SC is to look for the parts of the page that are not MC or Ads.

Type of Page and PurposeSC Highlighted in Blue
News article page: the purpose is to communicate information about an event or news topic.SC – News Article
Store product page: the purpose is to sell or give information about the product.SC – Shopping Page
Video page: the purpose is to share a video about cats.SC – Video Page
Blog post page: the purpose is to share music used on a TV show.SC – Blog Post Page

Identifying Advertisements/Monetization (Ads)

Ads may contribute to a good user experience. Advertisements/Monetization (Ads) is content and/or links that are displayed for the purpose of monetizing (making money from) the page. The presence or absence of Ads is not by itself a reason for a High or Low quality rating. Without advertising and monetization, some webpages could not exist because it costs money to maintain a website and create high quality content.

There are several different ways to monetize a webpage, including advertisements and affiliate programs. See here for more information on website monetization. Note that monetization on mobile pages may be more subtle than monetization on desktop pages.

The most common type of monetization is advertisements. Ads may be labeled as “ads,” “sponsored links,” “sponsored listings,” “sponsored results,” etc. Usually, you can click on the links or mouse over the content to determine whether they are Ads, as they often refer to a URL outside of that website. Ads may change when you reload the page, and different users may see different Ads on the same page.

Webmasters can choose to display Ads on their page (such as by joining an advertising network), but they may not always directly control the content of the Ads. However, we will consider a website responsible for the overall quality of the Ads displayed.

Important: For the purpose of this guideline, we will consider monetized links of any type to be “Ads.” See here for different types of website monetization.

Type of Page and PurposeAds Highlighted in Red
News article page: the purpose is to communicate information about an event or news topic.Ads – News Article
Video page: the purpose is to share a video about cats.Ads – Video Page
Blog post page: the purpose is to share music used on a TV show.Ads – Blog Post Page
Store product page: the purpose is to sell or give information about the product.No ads – Shopping Page

Summary of the Parts of the Page

Let’s put it all together.

  • Main Content (MC) is any part of the page that directly helps the page achieve its purpose. MC is (or should be!) the reason the page exists. The quality of the MC plays a very large role in the Page Quality rating of a webpage.
  • Supplementary Content (SC) is also important. SC can help a page better achieve its purpose or it can detract from the overall experience.
  • Many pages have advertisements/monetization (Ads). Without advertising and monetization, some webpages could not exist because it costs money to maintain a website and create high quality content. The presence or absence of Ads is not by itself a reason for a High or Low quality rating.

On some pages, reviews may be considered MC, and on other pages they may be considered SC. Use your best judgment and think about the purpose of the page.

Do not worry too much about identifying every little part of the page. Think about which parts of the page are the MC. Next, look for the Ads. Anything left over can be considered SC.

Type of Page and PurposeMC, SC, and Ads Highlighted
News article page: the purpose is to communicate information about an event or news topic. Summary – News Article
Store product page: the purpose is to sell or give information about the product. Summary – Shopping Page
Video page: the purpose is to share a video about cats. Summary – Video Page
 Currency converter page: the purpose is to calculate equivalent amounts in different currencies. Summary – Currency Converter
 Blog post page: the purpose is to share music used on a TV show. Summary – Blog Post Page
 Bank login page: the purpose is to allow users to log in to bank online. Summary – Bank Login Page

Understanding the Website

Pages often make more sense when viewed as part of a website. Some of the criteria in Page Quality rating are based on the website the page belongs to.

In order to understand a website, look for information about the website on the website itself. Websites are usually very eager to tell you all about themselves!

You must also look for reputation information about the website. We need to find out what outside, independent sources say about the website. When there is disagreement between what the website says about itself and what reputable independent sources say about the website, we’ll trust the independent sources.

Finding the Homepage

The homepage of a website usually contains or has links to important information about the website. Webmasters usually make it easy to get to the homepage of the website from any page on the site.

Here’s how to find the homepage of a website:

  • Examine the landing page of the URL in your PQ rating task.
  • Find and click on the link labeled “home” or “main page.”
  • Having trouble finding it? Try using “Ctrl-F” (“command-F” on a Mac) to search the page for the text “home” or “main.” You may also try clicking on the website logo, which is usually at the top of the page.

Sometimes, you may be given a webpage or website that appears to have no navigation links, no homepage link, and no logo or other means to find the homepage. Even some High or Highest quality pages lack a way to navigate to the homepage. If you can’t find a link to the homepage, modify the URL by removing everything to the right of “.com,” “.org,” “.net,” “.info,” etc. and refresh the page.

Occasionally, your rating task will include a URL for which there are two or more justifiable “homepage” candidates. For example, you may not be sure whether the homepage of the URL is or

Important: When you have more than one homepage “candidate,” please use whichever one offers the most information about the specific webpage in the rating task. Use your judgment.  The goal is to understand the webpage and the website(s) it is associated with, not find the one unique, correct homepage.

In the following examples, we have included the URL of the page to be evaluated in the rating task, as well as the URL of its associated homepage. We have also included an image that shows where to click on the landing page to navigate to the homepage. In the image, you will see a red box around the link or logo you would click to navigate to the homepage.

URL of the Task PageHomepage of the WebsiteImage that shows where to click to get to the homepage
http://www.williams-sonoma.c om/products/shun-premier-7- piece-knife-block-sethttp://www.williams-sonoma.comWilliams-Sonoma Homepagewilliamson sonomaThis “WILLIAMS-SONOMA” logo shown in the upper center of the page is clickable and takes users to the homepage of the website. estion/index;_ylt=AnAYEU1f ED6ncg1jRCFy30kk5XNG;_y lv=3?qid=20091214193523A AQqHQS this case, we will consider the homepage, rather than Why?  Because clicking on the logo takes the user to In addition, has information about the Yahoo Answers website. It is very difficult to find specific information about on the homepage.Specific Yahoo Answers Pageyahoo-answersThis “YAHOO ANSWERS” logo in the upper left part of the page is clickable and takes users to the homepage of the website. hms/facts-figureshttp://hms.harvard.eduIn this case, we will consider the Harvard Medical School page at to be the homepage, rather than (which is the homepage of Harvard University). Clicking the logo at the top of takes users to, not to Medical School Facts and Figures Pageharvard medical schoolThis “Harvard Medical School” logo in the upper left part of the page is clickable and takes users to the homepage of the Harvard Medical School website.

Finding Who is Responsible for the Website and Who Created the Content on the Page

Every page belongs to a website, and it should be clear:

  • Who (what individual, company, business, foundation, etc.) is responsible for the website.
  • Who (what individual, company, business, foundation, etc.) created the content on the page you are evaluating. Websites are usually very clear about who created the content on the page. There are many reasons for this:
  • Commercial websites may have copyrighted material they want to protect.
  • Businesses want users to know who they are.
  • Artists, authors, musicians, and other original content creators usually want to be known and appreciated.
  • Foundations often want support and even volunteers.
  • High quality stores want users to feel comfortable buying online.

Most websites have “contact us” or “about us” or “about” pages that provide information about who owns the site. Many companies have an entire website or blog devoted to who they are and what they are doing, what jobs are available, etc. Google and Marriott are both examples of this, and there are many others:

Often a business or organization is responsible for the content of a website, not an individual person. The IBM Corporation is responsible for the content on The Cleveland Clinic is responsible for the content on An individual is not responsible for the content on these websites, even though many individuals contributed to creating and maintaining the content. In these cases, we will view the business or organization as responsible for the content on every single page, as well as maintenance of the website.

On some websites, users create the MC of many pages, while the business or organization itself maintains the website. The company Facebook is responsible for the Facebook website, but individuals create the content on their personal Facebook pages. The company Wikipedia is responsible for the Wikipedia website, but individuals create article content. Other websites with user-generated content include YouTube, Twitter, other social networking websites, other article publishing websites, Q&A websites, forums, etc. For these websites, you must look at each page to determine the author(s) or creator(s) of the content on that page.

Finally, there are some websites that show licensed or syndicated content. This means that the website has paid money or has some business relationship with the creator of the content. In these cases, we will consider the website itself to be responsible for the licensed or syndicated content, even if it wasn’t created by the website.

Finding About Us, Contact Information, and Customer Service Information

Many websites are interested in communicating with their users. There are many reasons that users might have for contacting a website, from reporting problems such as broken pages, to asking for content removal. Many websites offer multiple ways for users to contact the website: email addresses, phone numbers, physical addresses, web contact forms, etc. Sometimes, this contact information is even organized by department and provides the names of individuals to contact.


The types and amount of contact information needed depend on the type of website. Contact information and customer service information are extremely important for websites that handle money, such as stores, banks, credit card companies, etc. Users need a way to ask questions or get help when a problem occurs.

For shopping websites, we’ll ask you to do some special checks. Look for contact information—including the store’s policies on payment, exchanges, and returns. Sometimes this information is listed under “customer service.”

Some kinds of websites need fewer details and a smaller amount of contact information for their purpose. For example, humor websites may not need the level of detailed contact information we would expect from online banking websites.

Occasionally, you may encounter a website with a legitimate reason for anonymity. For example, personal websites may not include personal contact information such as an individual’s home address or phone number. Similarly, websites with user-generated content may allow the author to identify him/herself with an alias or username only.

To find contact or customer service information for a website, start with the homepage. Look for a “contact us” or “customer service” link. Explore the website if you cannot find a “contact us” page. Sometimes you will find the contact information on a “corporate site” link or even on the company’s Facebook page. Be a detective!

Note that different locales may have their own specific standards and requirements for what information should be available on the website.

Reputation of the Website or Creator of the Main Content

A website’s reputation is based on the experience of real users, as well as the opinion of people who are experts in the topic of the website. Keep in mind that websites often represent real companies, organizations, and other entities. Therefore, reputation research applies to both the website and the actual company, organization, or entity that the website is representing.

A website’s reputation can also help you understand what a website is best known for, and as a result how well it accomplishes its purpose. For example, newspapers may be known for high quality, independent investigative reporting while satire websites may be known for their humor.

Many websites are eager to tell users how great they are. Some webmasters have read these rating guidelines and write “reviews” on various review websites. But for Page Quality rating, you must also look for outside, independent reputation information about the website. When the website says one thing about itself, but reputable external sources disagree with what the website says, trust the external sources.

Your job is to truly evaluate the Page Quality of the site, not just blindly accept information on one or two pages of the website. Be skeptical of claims that websites make about themselves.

Research on the Reputation of the Website or Creator of the Main Content

Use reputation research to find out what real users, as well as experts, think about a website. Look for reviews, references, recommendations by experts, news articles, and other credible information created/written by individuals about the website.

Stores frequently have user ratings, which can help you understand a store’s reputation based on the reports of people who actually shop there. We consider a large number of positive user reviews as evidence of positive reputation.

Many other kinds of websites have reputations as well. For example, you might find that a newspaper website has won journalistic awards. Prestigious awards, such as the Pulitzer Prize award, are strong evidence of positive reputation.

When a high level of authoritativeness or expertise is needed, the reputation of a website should be judged on what expert opinions have to say. Recommendations from expert sources, such as professional societies, are strong evidence of very positive reputation.

Reputation research is necessary for all websites you encounter. Do not just assume websites you personally use have a good reputation. Please do research! You might be surprised at what you find.

Sources of Reputation Information

Look for information written by a person, not statistics or other machine-compiled information. News articles, Wikipedia articles, blog posts, magazine articles, forum discussions, and ratings from independent organizations can all be sources of reputation information. Look for independent, credible sources of information.

Sometimes, you will find information about a website that is not related to its reputation.  For example, pages like Alexa have information about Internet traffic to the website, but do not provide evidence of positive or negative reputation. You can ignore this information since it’s not helpful for Page Quality rating.

Customer Reviews of Stores/Businesses

Customer reviews can be helpful for assessing the reputation of a store or business. However, you should interpret these reviews with care, particularly if there are only a few. Be skeptical of both positive and negative user reviews. Anyone can write them, including the creator of the website or someone the store or business hires for this purpose. See here for a New York Times article on fake reviews and here for a Guardian article on fake reviews.

When interpreting customer reviews, try to find as many as possible. Any store or website can get a few negative reviews. This is completely normal and expected. Large stores and companies have thousands of reviews and most receive some negative ones.

It is also important to read the reviews because the content of the reviews matter, not just the number. Credible, convincing reports of fraud and financial wrongdoing is evidence of extremely negative reputation. A single encounter with a rude clerk or the delayed receipt of a single package should not be considered negative reputation information. Please use your judgment.

How to Search for Reputation Information

Here is how to research the reputation of the website:

  1. Identify the “homepage” of the website. For example, for the IBM website, is the homepage. You may need to identify the creator of the content, if it is different from that of the overall website.
  1. Using as an example, try one or more of the following searches on Google:
  • [ibm]: A search for IBM that excludes pages on
  • [“”]: A search for “” that excludes pages on
  • [ibm reviews] A search for reviews of IBM that excludes pages on
  • [“” reviews]: A search for reviews of “” that excludes pages on
  • For content creators, try searching for their name or alias.

Note: When searching for reputation information, try to find sources that were not written or created by the website, the company itself, or the individual. For example, IBM might have official Facebook or Twitter pages that it closely maintains, which would not be considered independent sources of reputation information about the company. See here for a Wikipedia article on identifying and using independent sources.

  1. Look for articles, reviews, forum posts, discussions, etc. written by people about the website. For businesses, there are many sources of reputation information and reviews. Here are some examples: Yelp, Better Business Bureau (a nonprofit organization that focuses on the trustworthiness of businesses and charities), Amazon, and Google Shopping. You can try searching on specific sites to find reviews. For example, you can try [ibm] or [“”].

For content creators, look for biographical data and other sources that are not written by the individual.

Note: You will sometimes find high ratings on the Better Business Bureau (BBB) website because there is very little data on the business, not because the business has a positive reputation. However, very low ratings on BBB are usually the result of multiple unresolved complaints. Please consider very low ratings on the BBB site to be evidence for a negative reputation.

4.   See if there is a Wikipedia article or news article from a well-known news site. Wikipedia can be a good source of information about companies, organizations, and content creators. For example, try [ibm] or [“”]. News articles and Wikipedia articles can help you learn about a company and may include information specific to reputation, such as awards and other forms of recognition, or also controversies and issues. Note that some Wikipedia articles include a message warning users that there are disagreements on some of the content, or that the content may be outdated. This may be an indication that additional research is necessary.

Here are some examples of reputation information:

WebsiteReputation Information About the SiteDescription
annualcreditreport.comSearch results for [] Wikipedia article about
Wall Street Journal article about
Positive reputation information: Users in the U.S. can obtain free credit reports on this website by providing their Social Security Number. Note that the Wikipedia article tells us that “ is the only federally mandated and authorized source for obtaining afree credit report.”Note: Almost every website will have complaints about customer service, so it is important to look at various sources and reviews in your reputation research.
clevelandclinic.orgSearch results for [] Wikipedia article about US News & World Report article about the best
hospitals in the U.S.
Positive reputation information: According to Wikipedia, the Cleveland Clinic “is currently regarded as one of the top 4 hospitals in the United States as rated by U.S. News & World Report,” which you will also find in the article on the best hospitals in the U.S. Users can trust medical information on this website.
csmonitor.comSearch results for []
Wikipedia article about The Christian Science
Positive reputation information: Notice the highlighted section in the Wikipedia article about The Christian Science Monitor newspaper, which tells us that the newspaper has won seven Pulitzer Prize awards.  From this information, we can infer that the website has a positive reputation.
kernel.orgSearch results for [ –] Wikipedia article about kernel.orgPositive reputation information: We learn in the Wikipedia article that “ is a main repository of source code for the Linux kernel, the base of the popular Linux operating system. It makes all versions of the source code available to all users. It also hosts various other projects, like Google Android. The main purpose of the site is to host a repository for Linux kernel developers and maintainers of Linux distributions.”
Site selling children’s jungle gymSearch to find reputation information Search to find reviews BBB negative review TrustLink negative reviews Negative news articleExtremely negative reputation information: This business has a BBB rating of F (i.e., lowest rating given by BBB). There is a news article about financial fraud.  There are many reviews on websites describing users sending money and not receiving anything from various sources.
Site selling products related to eyewearSearch to find reputation information
BBB page Wikipedia article New York Times article
Extremely negative/malicious reputation information: This website engaged in criminal behavior such as physically threatening users.
Organization serving the hospitalized veteran communitySearch to find scams related this organization
Negative review 1
Negative review 2
Negative review 3
Negative review 4
Extremely negative reputation information: There are many detailed negative articles on news sites and charity watchdog sites about this organization describing fraud and financial mishandling.

What to Do When You Find No Reputation Information

You should expect to find reputation information for large businesses and websites of large organizations, as well as well-known content creators.

Frequently, you will find little or no information about the reputation of a website for a small organization. This is not indicative of positive or negative reputation. Many small, local businesses or community organizations have a small “web presence” and rely on word of mouth, not online reviews. For these smaller businesses and organizations, lack of reputation should not be considered an indication of low page quality.

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