Updates to the Google Quality Rater guidelines have popped up, and Brian Ussery has written up a nice summary of the revised standards.
There's good news for those who have embraced social media. It seems Google feels that the elements on blogs and social network sites like MySpace should be ranked as relevant. The language of this particular guideline is geared more towards individuals, though companies can encourage their employees to utilize sites like LinkedIn to gain further visibility in search results. This may also help with online reputation management if it pushes third party sites and reviews down further in the results.
E-tailers will also want to take note of guidelines for how raters consider commerce sites. Shopping carts, return policies, shipping calculators, and gift registries are among the features raters should look for when rating a site as relevant. This is to distinguish e-commerce from "thin affiliates."
Thin affiliates are considered to be sites that offer no value to visitors. They simply contain links to merchants where they can then purchase a product advertised by the thin affiliate. This is deemed spam in the rater's guidelines. However, affiliate sites that offer reviews, price comparisons or some other value-add to featured products or services are ok.
Though, Philipp Lenssen points out parked domains are met with a bit of "do as I say and not as I do" philosophy. While the guidelines mark parked domains as spam, Google maintains its DomainPark program, which allows domain owners to slap a page full of Adsense on their sites.
The updated version of the standards was released in April 2007, which preceded a heightened effort by Google to crack down on paid links.