What Factors to Consider When Rating a Website
Evaluating a Website
At a high level, here are the steps of Page Quality rating:
- Understand the true purpose of the page. Websites or pages without any beneficial purpose, including pages that are created with no attempt to help users, or pages that potentially spread hate, cause harm, or misinform or deceive users, should receive the Lowest rating. No further assessment is necessary.
- Otherwise, the PQ rating is based on how well the page achieves its purpose using the criteria outlined in the following sections on Lowest, Low, Medium, High, and Highest quality pages.
On Page Quality rating tasks, you will use the Page Quality sliding scale (slider) to assign the overall PQ rating. The slider looks like this:
You may also use the in-between ratings of Lowest+, Low+, Medium+, and High+. Please interpret the “+” as “+ ½,” meaning that the Lowest+ rating is halfway between Lowest and Low, Low+ is halfway between Low and Medium, etc. In the following sections, you will learn about characteristics of Lowest, Low, Medium, High, and Highest quality pages.
Page Quality Rating: Most Important Factors
Here are the most important factors to consider when selecting an overall Page Quality rating:
- The Purpose of the Page
- Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness: This is an important quality characteristic. Use your research on the additional factors below to inform your rating.
- Main Content Quality and Amount: The rating should be based on the landing page of the task URL.
- Website Information/information about who is responsible for the MC: Find information about the website as well as the creator of the MC.
- Website Reputation/reputation about who is responsible for the MC: Links to help with reputation research will be provided.
Note: Some tasks may ask you to view the page on your phone, but to do research (e.g., finding website information and reputation) on your desktop. Other tasks may ask you to do everything on desktop. Please follow instructions in the task.
Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (E-A-T)
Remember that the first step of PQ rating is to understand the true purpose of the page. Websites or pages without some sort of beneficial purpose, including pages that are created with no attempt to help users, or pages that potentially spread hate, cause harm, or misinform or deceive users, should receive the Lowest rating.
For all other pages that have a beneficial purpose, the amount of expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness (E-A-T) is very important. Please consider:
- The expertise of the creator of the MC.
- The authoritativeness of the creator of the MC, the MC itself, and the website.
- The trustworthiness of the creator of the MC, the MC itself, and the website.
Keep in mind that there are high E-A-T pages and websites of all types, even gossip websites, fashion websites, humor websites, forum and Q&A pages, etc. In fact, some types of information are found almost exclusively on forums and discussions, where a community of experts can provide valuable perspectives on specific topics.
- High E-A-T medical advice should be written or produced by people or organizations with appropriate medical expertise or accreditation. High E-A-T medical advice or information should be written or produced in a professional style and should be edited, reviewed, and updated on a regular basis.
- High E-A-T news articles should be produced with journalistic professionalism—they should contain factually accurate content presented in a way that helps users achieve a better understanding of events. High E-A-T news sources typically have published established editorial policies and robust review processes (example 1, example 2).
- High E-A-T information pages on scientific topics should be produced by people or organizations with appropriate scientific expertise and represent well-established scientific consensus on issues where such consensus exists.
- High E-A-T financial advice, legal advice, tax advice, etc., should come from trustworthy sources and be maintained and updated regularly.
- High E-A-T advice pages on topics such as home remodeling (which can cost thousands of dollars and impact your living situation) or advice on parenting issues (which can impact the future happiness of a family) should also come from “expert” or experienced sources that users can trust.
- High E-A-T pages on hobbies, such as photography or learning to play a guitar, also require expertise.
Some topics require less formal expertise. Many people write extremely detailed, helpful reviews of products or restaurants. Many people share tips and life experiences on forums, blogs, etc. These ordinary people may be considered experts in topics where they have life experience. If it seems as if the person creating the content has the type and amount of life experience to make him or her an “expert” on the topic, we will value this “everyday expertise” and not penalize the person/webpage/website for not having “formal” education or training in the field.
It’s even possible to have everyday expertise in YMYL topics. For example, there are forums and support pages for people with specific diseases. Sharing personal experience is a form of everyday expertise. Consider this example. Here, forum participants are telling how long their loved ones lived with liver cancer. This is an example of sharing personal experiences (in which they are experts), not medical advice. Specific medical information and advice (rather than descriptions of life experiences) should come from doctors or other health professionals.
Think about the topic of the page. What kind of expertise is required for the page to achieve its purpose well? The standard for expertise depends on the topic of the page.
High Quality Pages
In this section, we will describe characteristics of High quality pages and give many examples. Examples help calibrate your ratings, so please review each one.
Characteristics of High Quality Pages
High quality pages exist for almost any beneficial purpose, from giving information to making people laugh to expressing oneself artistically to purchasing products or services online.
What makes a High quality page? A High quality page should have a beneficial purpose and achieve that purpose well. In addition, High quality pages have the following characteristics:
- High level of Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (E-A-T).
- A satisfying amount of high quality MC, including a descriptive or helpful title.
- Satisfying website information and/or information about who is responsible for the website. If the page is primarily for shopping or includes financial transactions, then it should have satisfying customer service information.
- Positive website reputation for a website that is responsible for the MC on the page. Positive reputation of the creator of the MC, if different from that of the website.
A Satisfying Amount of High Quality Main Content
The quality of the MC is one of the most important criteria in Page Quality rating, and informs the E-A-T of the page. For all types of webpages, creating high quality MC takes a significant amount of at least one of the following: time, effort, expertise, and talent/skill. For news articles and information pages, high quality MC must be factually accurate for the topic and must be supported by expert consensus where such consensus exists.
For each page you evaluate, spend a few minutes examining the MC before drawing a conclusion about it. Read the article, watch the video, examine the pictures, use the calculator, play the online game, etc. Remember that MC also includes page features and functionality, so test the page out. For example, if the page is a product page on a store website, put at least one product in the cart to make sure the shopping cart is functioning. If the page is an online game, spend a few minutes playing it.
The purpose of the page will help you determine what high quality content means for that page. For example, High quality information pages should be factually accurate, clearly written, and comprehensive. High quality shopping content should allow users to find the products they want and to purchase the products easily. High quality humor or satire should be entertaining, while factual accuracy is not a requirement as long as the page would be understood as satire by users.
The amount of content necessary for the page to be satisfying depends on the topic and purpose of the page. A High quality page on a broad topic with a lot of available information will have more content than a High quality page on a narrower topic. Here are some examples of pages with a satisfying amount of high quality MC.
|Siberian Husky Information Page||The Siberian Husky (a breed of dog) is a narrow topic. Although this encyclopedia landing page has less MC|
|Kitchen Stand Mixer Shopping Page||This shopping page on a reputable shopping website has a satisfying amount of high quality MC. The page provides the manufacturer’s product specs, as well as original product information, over 90 user reviews, shipping and returns information, multiple images of the product, etc. Note: Some of the MC is behind|
|Movie Review Page||This movie review written by a movie critic has a satisfying amount of high quality MC. Time, effort, and talent/skill went into writing this movie review.|
Clear and Satisfying Website Information: Who is Responsible and Customer Service
Understanding who is responsible for a website is a critical part of assessing E-A-T for most types of websites. High quality pages should have clear information about the website so that users feel comfortable trusting the site.
The amount of information needed for E-A-T assessment depends on the type of website. For example, YMYL websites demand a high degree of trust, so they generally need satisfying information about who is responsible for the content of the site. In addition, High quality stores and financial transaction websites also need clear and satisfying customer service information to help users resolve issues.
Other websites that are not YMYL websites may need less website information, depending on the purpose of the website. For example, an email address may be sufficient for some non-YMYL websites.
Reputation is an important criteria when using the High rating, and informs the E-A-T of the page. While a page can merit the High rating with no reputation, the High rating cannot be used for any website that has a convincing negative reputation. Remember that when doing research, make sure to consider the reasons behind a negative rating and not just the rating itself.
A High Level of Expertise/Authoritativeness/Trustworthiness (E-A-T)
High quality pages and websites need enough expertise to be authoritative and trustworthy on their topic. Remember that there are “expert” websites of all types, even gossip websites, fashion websites, humor websites, forum and Q&A pages, etc. In fact, some types of information are found almost exclusively on forums and discussions, where a community of experts can provide valuable perspectives on specific topics.
Think about the topic of the page. What kind of expertise is required for the page to achieve its purpose well? The standard for expertise depends on the topic of the page. For example, high quality news articles and information pages on scientific topics should represent established scientific consensus where such consensus exists.
Examples of High Quality Pages
|Webpage/Type of||High Quality Characteristics||PQ Rating and Explanation|
|High: News 1Homepage of a newspaper (YMYL)||This newspaper has won seven Pulitzer Prize awards.|
|High: News 2Article on a newspaper website (YMYL)||This is an article on a newspaper website that has won ten Pulitzer Prize awards. There is a satisfying amount of high quality MC. While there are Ads on the page, the MC is easy to find and the Ads are clearly labeled as Ads.|
|High: News 3Opinion article on a newspaper website||This is an opinion piece written by the Editorial Board of the the largest newspaper in the U.S. state of Minnesota. The page is clearly labelled as an opinion piece, welcoming a new football coach to the University of Minnesota.|
|High: Government agencyUS Naval Observatory Master Clock page||The purpose of this page is to display the official US Naval Observatory Master Clock time in 7 different time zones. The page displays the clock information in a clear, easy-to-read format. The Naval Observatory is highly trustworthy and authoritative for this type of information.|
|High: HumorArticle on a humor website||This website is well-known for its humorous, satirical articles. This is a cute example of a satisfying and funny article.|
|High: Small business 1Local fish & chips restaurant||This is an “about us” page on a restaurant website. This page provides information on when the restaurant opened and what visitors can expect. Other pages on the website provide information about the restaurant including the address, menu, other contact information, etc. This website is highly authoritative because it is about itself.|
|High: Small business 2Local preservation center||This is the News and Updates section of a local preservation center selling poultry, vegetables, and more.Note: This example was added in 2014 so the “News and Updates” were timely.|
|High: Blog postParenting article about strollers||This is a blog post on a newspaper that has won over 100 Pulitzer Prize awards. The author of this blog post has become known as an expert on parenting issues. She is a regular contributor to this and other media websites.|
|High: Shopping 1Backpack shopping page on a popular store website (YMYL)||The purpose of this page is to allow users to buy a school backpack. The page provides a lot of different backpack options, and some of them have user reviews.This is a well-known, reputable merchant, with detailed Customer Service information on the site.|
|High: Shopping 2Bathroom décor page on a store website (YMYL)||This company sells its own line of high end, fashionable baby and children’s furniture and accessories. It has a positive reputation as well as expertise in these specific types of goods. Many products sold on the site are unique to this company.|
|High: Shopping 3TomTom GPS page on an electronics website (YMYL)||There is a very large quantity of MC on this page. Note that the tabs on the page lead to even more information, including many customer reviews. The tabs should be considered part of the MC.|
|High: Video 1Saturday Night Live video on a video website||The MC of this video page is an episode of Saturday Night Live, a very popular television show.|
|High: Video 2“An Engineer’s Guide to Cats” video||This is a humorous, high quality, well produced video with more than 6.5 million views (and counting), illustrating the proper care and practical benefits of cats. The two engineers in the video have everyday expertise on cat ownership. For a humorous video like this one, expertise does not have to be in the form of a trained veterinarian.|
|High: GameOnline game||Highly engaging game with multiple levels that could entertain a child for hours. This website has a positive reputation for educating children about animals.|
|High: Q&AHow long do cancer patients live||The question on the page asks how long people live with cancer. There are many responses describing how long a loved one lived after diagnosis. There is very little medical advice and the focus of the page is sharing personal experience. Many responses are heartfelt and well written.|
|High: EncyclopediaEncyclopedia article about the American Civil War||This is a detailed article about the American Civil War. The citations support the E-A-T of this article.Note: Although much of the content is visible on the mobile page, we consider the content under the headings (which you need to expand) to be part of the MC. (To see the screenshot, you will need to zoom in to the image.)|
|High: Forum 1Authenticating a luxury designer purse||This forum is well-known for discussions on luxury designer purses. On this particular forum page, members are consulting forum experts who have expertise authenticating bags from this brand. These experts can tell if a particular bag is authentic or fake. While there is an ad at the top and a few ads within the forum message, it does not distract from the MC, which is easy to find.(To see the screenshot, you will need to zoom in to the image.)|
|High: Forum 2Landscaping an aquarium||This discussion focuses on the landscaping for a particular paludarium (an aquarium with terrestrial and aquatic elements). There is a lot of discussion and interaction between forum members about the types of materials and species used in the aquarium. The posts show expertise in a niche topic aquarium landscaping.|