When Henk van Ess released possibly confidential information regarding Google's human-rated evaluation lab, he caused quite a stir. There is much talk and debate about it at WebmasterWorld and SEW. For all the details and to get the downloads that are causing the uproar, you need to go to Henk's blog at http://www.searchbistro.com/.
But I'm not here to comment on whether or not the material should be out there. Nor am I going to analyze every aspect of the documents. You should do that on your own. What I am here to present are a few new SEO words that we should have in our vocabulary. And we should have these in our vocabulary because Google has them in their vocabulary! These are terms that Google uses "behind the scenes", so to speak. From now on, we SEOs can use them as well, so that we are all on the same page when discussing optimization. The following are short summaries of these new terms, but more detailed information can be found at the downloads on Henk's blog.
Thin affiliates vs. added value affiliates:
Thin affiliates: Doorways that send visitors to affiliate programs, earning a commission for doing so, while providing little or no value-added content or service to the user. Sites that do nothing but act as a commission-earning middleman. The presence of third party affiliate providers in the links on a page (such as redirects from qksrv.net, bfast.com, etc.), can strongly suggest a thin affiliate, but are not in an of themselves a guarantee of a thin affiliate.
Added Value Affiliates: Provide a value-added service to visitors in addition to affiliate links and affiliate content. Examples include comparison shopping tools, original informational content, exclusive downloads, etc. Added Value Affiliates have sites that would still be good sites even without the affiliate links.
Conclusion: If you have an affiliate site, you'd better fit into the category of Added Value Affiliates if you want to pass muster with Google.
Navigational Query: a query that normally has only one satisfactory result. For example, the user types in the name of a company, such as United Airlines and expects to be taken to the homepage of that company.
Informational Query: a query about a topic where the user expects to be provided with information on the topic, such as "alzheimer disease", "programming languages", etc.
Transactional query: a query where the user expects to conduct a transaction, such as download a free product or purchase a product.
Lingo to Rate Search Results:
The following are categories of ratings where search results are evaluated, and each result is considered to be one of the following (from best match to worst match).
Vital: The result (web page) uniquely matches the query. For example, if the user typed the query "Office Max", then a vital result that should show up at the top of the SERPs would be www.officemax.com
Useful: The result is very good and deserves a high position. Useful results should be highly satisfying for the user: if the query is informational, they should be very informative; if the query is transactional, they should allow the user to complete the transaction.
Relevant: A Relevant result is relevant to the query, but may only cover one important aspect of the query, whereas a Useful result would cover the query more broadly and more thoroughly.
Not Relevant: This result is generally not helpful to the user but is still connected in some way, however remotely, with the query.
Off Topic: Completely unrelated to the query
Offensive: Generally refers to what Google would consider to be a spam page, and would either have no merits for ANY query, or may have merits for one query, but definitely NOT for this query (such as a p0rn site being returned for a g-rated query). (See the spam document in Henk's blog to get further information on what Google sees as spam).
The documents have loads of other good information in them, and you should definitely check them out. You very well might discover some reasons that your site isn't doing as well as you'd hoped. With this new lingo, we can more accurately discuss SERPs results and perhaps make changes that cause our sites to fall at least into the Useful category.