Although the leaked Google document does give us a valuable insight in to how Google tests the quality of its search results, it does not of course give us the secrets of the latest algorithm updates that have hit many webmaster hard. In my opinion though it does give us some valuable information, which those who intend profit from Google SERPs, in the long run, should take notice of. Over the coming week I intend to break down the document, to show what we as webmaster can actually do to create content Google does indeed class as “vital” and useful pages. This first article will simply detail how Google Test Team were told to rate pages.

URL Rating Overview

Google Test Team members were simply given a number of search queries and told to do the following:

  • Research The Query
  • Click on the URL to visit the landing page
  • Assign a rating based on guidelines detailed in the document

Depending on the quality of the pages viewed, members of the test team were told to score the pages as:

  • Vital
  • Useful
  • Relevant
  • Slightly Relevant
  • Off Topic or Useless
  • Unratable

For each of the above ratings, the team members were given a detailed description, so let’s take a look at how each score was defined as per the Google document.

The Vital rating is used for these very special situations:

1) The dominant interpretation of the query is navigation, and the landing page is the target of the navigation query.

2) The dominant interpretation of the query is an entity (such as a person, place, business, restaurant, product, company, organization, etc.), and the landing page is the official webpage associated with that entity.

To help the Test Team Google gives examples of “vital” queries such as:

Nytimes – The home page of the New York Times

We can of course say the likes of a query such as BBC would also be a vital query as would Yahoo and Amazon.

All such sites that should respond to vital queries are of course authority type sites, the best of the best authority type sites.

It must be noted that Google states in the document that…

Social networking pages for companies are NOT considered Vital.

Google does also state that…

Homepages, blogs, and social networking pages have become very popular, and many famous and non-famous people now have multiple “official” personal pages on the Web. People may have multiple homepages, multiple blogs, and multiple pages on various social networking sites, such as MySpace, Facebook, Friendster, Mixi, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, etc. Official homepages of all types are Vital for famous people (and for non-famous people who have unusual, uniquely identifiable names).

Social networking pages for small groups of people (such as social clubs or musical bands) are also considered Vital.

Social networking pages for companies are NOT considered Vital.

It can sometimes be difficult to determine if a homepage, blog, or social networking page is official. Usually, official webpages for famous people are “professional” in appearance and are often linked to from the individual’s other official pages or from a Wikipedia article about the person. Please use your judgment and have high standards.

So from the above YouTube pages for the likes of let’s say Lady Ga Ga and Greenday for example can be classed as Vital, although a YouTube page for a company can’t be classed as vital. It is interesting to note that even Ford’s official Facebook page is not classed as vital.

Google goes on to state that most queries will not have Vital webpages. The document defines this by stating:

  • The query does not have a dominant interpretation.
  • The query is not an entity or is not a navigation query.
  • No official website or webpage exists for the entity.
  • No person or entity can “own” the topic of the query.

The document aids the Test Team by listing search queries that can’t be classed as vital. Examples include the likes of knitting, ipod reviews and diabetes.

Also of note is the fact that the document states that of course some search queries have multiple vital pages.

Google also goes on to state that there are more than one form of vital query. The Test Team were asked to define the vital query as either:

  • Appropriate Vital
  • International Vital
  • Other Vital

In the next article we will move on to search queries that Google asked their Test Team to score as useful. These are of course of prime importance to affiliates.

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