While Google and the other search engines have laid down what they consider to be the criteria for authority and trustworthiness in a website or webpage, these terms seem to have led to more confusion than before, especially since most people think of SEO the moment they think about website or page quality. It can make it very difficult to know which way is which when you get either vague or even over precise information. Let us break things down into an easier to digest checklist of what makes a webpage a "quality" page.
This is a basic drill down technique. If the page does not meet the first criteria for authority, then move on to the next until one is found that works.
- Is the author themselves an outright authority
This may occur when the author is a very well-known person that requires no proof or validation. If Stephen Hawking has something to say about the origin of the planets, you just take it at face value without a word otherwise.
Granted, not many people have a running list of all the experts in the world. If a site author is unknown to you, they most likely are, there may be a credential listed. The credential should be pertinent to the subject and it is nice if it is verifiable.
Perhaps the most difficult of all to verify is experience. Not every expert in every field has gone to MIT. As time goes by people put together a good cache of information based upon nothing more than doing the same thing over and over for a long period of time. If experience is listed on the site, it may or may not be true, but at least the effort was made to put some information out there.
The Site Itself
- Site Age and Ownership
It is not too hard to verify the age of a site. While new sites are made every day and, obviously, some of those sites are by very reputable people, it is good to add a grain of salt to a page from a brand new site. It is a common practice to put together sites quickly that provide information to support another website.
- Site Owner
When looking up the registration information for a website a good deal of information comes up. When accessing the age of a website, the owner and registering party are also shown most of the time. Again, if our good ole friend Stephen Hawking is the owner of a brand new website, then, brand new or not, it is most likely good information. Bear in mind that this information is not verified by most registrars, however.
The site owner may also be a large company and that company may have a whole network of sites. A new site that is registered to Microsoft can most likely be trusted.
- The TLD
This refers to the "top level domain." It is the three letters following the website, such as com or net or info. While the proper TLD's are not really policed, make sure that the webpage did choose the proper one. Business should be using com, biz, or perhaps a country code like ".us." The biggest mistake that is seen is a business site using "info." Many times it is cheaper to register ".info." If a business does not have the time to spend a little extra for the right TLD, then there is an issue.
Completeness and Effort
- A complete website
Many times a webpage may in itself looks good and have a high level of quality. A quick perusal of the same site may look great. Yet, do not be afraid to dig a little deeper. Try clicking on pages that are not commonly used, such as the "About Us" page. A quickly and poorly done website may have skipped or forgotten a few of these.
Without getting into the specifics, sometimes a newly set up site will throw a few errors that need to be worked through. Every web designer has faced them and it is part of the job. A good quality website will not show little messages mixed in with the page saying things like "php stream error…"
- Look and Feel
If the webpage author is not the designer, he or she should still take the time to ensure that they are being hosted on a good site. It takes time and effort to make all the elements work and blend together well. A quality webpage has been through the wringer until it sparkles.
While none of these things is the absolute end all and be all of determining quality webpages, it is a good list to put a webpage through. Online marketing world can be hard to understand, but not everything revolves around SEO, in most cases content quality can be achieved just by following common sense and in some cases refreshing older pages to insure quality. Obviously, if Stephen Hawking has a website owned by Microsoft and designed and developed by DaVinci himself, it is of high quality. Everything in between that and a very bad webpage is a matter of several criteria. Look closely and do not be afraid to judge for yourself what quality is and what is not.