Assigning a Page Quality Rating to Pages with no Main Content/Error Messages

Pages may lack Main Content for various reasons. Sometimes, the page is “broken” and the content does not load properly or does not load at all. Sometimes, the content is no longer available and the page displays an error message with this information. Sometimes the page is deliberately designed without MC.

Every website probably has some “broken” non-functioning pages. This is normal, and those individual non- functioning or broken pages on an otherwise maintained site should be considered overall Low quality. This is true even if other pages on the website are overall High or Highest quality.

Sometimes website checks for a broken or error message page reveal that the individual page is not an isolated example, but rather a symptom of an unmaintained site (or possibly a deceptive or malicious site). If that is the case, the page should be rated Lowest quality.

If the page has no MC by design, the rating should be Lowest.

Not all pages with error messages are Low or Lowest quality pages, however. If the purpose of the page is to communicate that content has been moved or is no longer available, and the page does a good job of communicating this message, the overall PQ rating may be higher; it may be Medium or even High. The page quality rating will depend on the website level checks and the content of the page.

Reminder: Page quality ratings are query-independent. The rating will depend on how well the page achieves its purpose and how well it passes page and website checks.

Here are some examples of “broken” or error message pages:




No MC 1


This is an example of a “broken” looking page which appears to be missing Main Content. You might think that this page is just “missing” the MC due to a problem with this particular page. In fact, this website has hundreds of pages that look the same way—no MC, just Ads. This website is either unmaintained or deceptive. Either way, this page should be rated Lowest quality.

No MC 2


This is another example of a “broken” looking page which appears to be missing MC. Even though the website is a legitimate news website and passes all other website checks, we will consider this an overall Low quality page.

Medium quality custom 404


This is an example of a “custom 404 page.” “Custom 404 message” pages are designed to alert users that the URL they are trying to visit no longer exists. Some websites do a nice job of not only alerting users about a problem, but also giving them help. This particular page displays the bare minimum of content needed to explain the problem to users, and the only help offered is a link to the homepage. The website is high quality, passes all website checks, and has a good reputation. But there obviously is not a lot of time and effort put into the particular page. The page accomplishes its purpose and there is nothing “wrong” with the page, but it is not a high quality page. The overall PQ rating here should probably be Medium.

High quality custom 404


This is an example of a very high quality “custom 404” page. The MC of this page is the cartoon, the caption, and the search functionality (which is specific to the content of the website). Clearly, time, effort, and talent were involved in the creation of the MC. This page achieves its purpose well, and the website hosting the page passes all website checks and has a good reputation. An overall PQ rating here should probably be on the high end of the range.

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