Is Your Content Considered High Quality?
There are over 1,676,808,000 websites currently active today and with new websites going live every second, that’s a lot of content that your website needs to compete with. Whether it’s your website’s core information or regular blogs and guides, each piece of content uploaded to and currently on your site needs to be designed and written with quality in mind. Low-quality content can be harmful to your website by reducing its authority, so how do we determine poor quality content, and what can we do to improve it?
What Counts As Low-Quality Content?
When it comes to determining which content needs to be improved, we first have to understand what ‘low-quality’ content is. Typically, we may think of ‘bad’ content as being poorly written and full of grammatical and syntactical errors, but there’s more to it than just a bit of questionable sentence structure. In fact, a piece of content with no clear target audience, no goal and no obvious purpose could also be listed as low-quality by Google and other search engines, ultimately proving to be harmful to your website.
In terms of SEO, it’s also important to remember that content that isn’t optimised can also prove harmful to your website within the SERPs. These pieces are often unsuccessful, not least because they may go unseen due to a lack of significant ranking.
Google also has its own ideas for low-quality content:
- Inadequate E-A-T
- Poor-quality main content
- Low amounts of main content
- An exaggerated/click-baiting title
- A lack of information about the website or creator
- Too many ads that distract from the content
- Negative reputation of the website or author
What Is Quality Content? (according to Google)
So, now we’ve cleared up what makes low-quality content, it’s important to now understand what high-quality content is in order to put together a plan as to what your website needs to aim for. According to Google, high-quality content needs to be:
- Useful/Informative – Users visit websites to get answers, whether that’s the price of a product they’re looking to buy, directions for an attraction or for an answer to a question they may have. Content that can provide them with all the above concisely, is considered high-quality.
- Credible – Since the update to E-A-T within Google’s Quality Rater Guidelines, ensuring you prove the credibility of your website and its authors is more important than ever. Include biographies for blogs, an ‘about us’ page for the website as a whole and ensure that every piece of content you upload has author information easily accessible.
- Value – Content without value has no purpose, and for this reason, ensuring that you provide your reader with useful information relevant to your site will ensure it’s considered high-quality by Google.
- Engaging – A website that’s not only visually pleasing with high-quality content, but that also takes user experience into consideration will encourage Google to list your website as being high quality.
How To Determine The Quality
If you’re unsure as to whether your content classes as being ‘high quality’, there are a number of different metrics to look at in order to determine a page’s current or potential success. These include the page title, URL, author, publication date, number of reads, word count, number of links and the trust and citation flow.
Title – your page titles act as a way for the reader to know what to expect from the web page before they even click through. First impressions are a vital part of securing visitors for your site, so the first step to checking quality is to take a look at whether the titles are optimised and offer any benefit to the reader.
URL – While you may think users don’t pay much attention to the URL structure, Google certainly does. To determine whether your URL is high-quality, check as to whether it’s SEO friendly, too long or may benefit from a change.
Author – Who is the author of the content? Do they have any expertise or authority within the industry and if so, has this been listed clearly on your site?
Publication Date – Google favours fresh content, so the publication date on your piece can play an important role in how it deems the quality and relevance to be. By regularly refreshing your content and listing a new publication/update date, you can show Google that your content is up to date and relevant. Has your content been updated recently, or is it out of date?
Number Of Reads – Has your page seen quite a few visitors, who have read through your content? Or is that latest blog low on interested parties? The more reads your piece has, the better, so this is an important metric to check.
Word Count – Each style of content has its own ‘ideal’ word count and determining the best for you piece will depend on its purpose. While blog posts are generally advised to be around 1,200 words or more, knowledge hub pieces, web pages and more can each benefit from more or less, depending on the purpose, the message you’re trying to get across and how valuable the piece is.
Links – How many links are going to your site, and around it? If you’re writing content, you need to ensure that you include internal links within each piece to craft a better website structure and user experience overall. Additionally, inbound links to a piece should only be coming from high-authority websites in order to maintain and improve your trust flow.
Trust & Citation Flow – Speaking of trust flow, this is another metric you need to be tracking to determine content quality. Do your web pages have good trust flow, or is the topical trust relevant? Each of these can help you determine the quality of a page in Google’s eyes.
So, What Do We Do With Content?
Conducting a content audit to determine which pages are higher quality and which aren’t, is just the first step in the journey. Once you’ve determined which pages aren’t performing well or that happen to be lower quality, you have to determine the best course of action. In recent years, many SEOs have been guilty of simply deleting out these pages, particularly in the case of blogs, in the hopes of improving the ranking, but according to Google’s John Mueller, this isn’t the case.
“There is always the possibility that some of the removed content was actually adding value to the site and with it suddenly removed, rankings can actually go down for a site… Improving it means that the rankings can only go up, whereas by removing it, can cause a loss of rankings instead of the gains that some people think content removals will do.”
For this reason, refreshing, combining and reworking existing content can actually prove beneficial for your site, more so than removing it completely. John Mueller also had something to say in regards to combining content:
“If you take two or three or four kind of weaker pages and merge them into one, even within the same site or externally, then that’s something where we can say that this is a stronger page… more parts of the site are referring to this one single piece of content so it’s probably more relevant than those individual small pieces you had before.”
For this reason, it’s up to you to make an executive decision as to whether a piece of content may benefit more from a refresh, or whether combining this with other, similar pieces is the best course of action. This is particularly important for pages that are indexed and have substantial rankings.
Take a look at which pages may be low quality, but are still offering some kind of result – these pages are typically the best candidates for refreshing or reworking, while those that aren’t offering much value to your site but may still be indexed could be redirected to a longer, more informative piece that combines a number of other blogs or pages that may otherwise have been competing against one another.
What We’re Doing At Absolute Digital Media
As part of our efforts to enhance our clients’ content and improve its quality in the eyes of users, we’ve been conducting in-depth content audits across their sites. This includes taking each page, carefully evaluating the metrics and determining its current performance in line with the rest of the website.
Our process begins with creating a record of every listed page on the website, pulling data from SEMrush regarding the page titles and meta descriptions, as well as the page views, unique page visits, bounce rates and average time spent on the page. This information provides us with a clear overview of how well a page is currently performing within a website before we conduct the content audit, enabling us to better determine which pieces may need more dedicated attention.
The next step is for our content experts to visit each URL individually and evaluate the page, taking into account keyword positions, user experience, readability, content quality and whether it adheres to E-A-T guidelines. Through careful analysis of all of this and the initial metrics, they can make a more informed decision when choosing which pages may need a refresh, which could benefit from being combined or in some cases, completely rewritten to ensure consistency and quality across the site.
Once this has been determined, a content strategy is put together in order to start work on the pages that need to be amended. Through an integrated approach with our other teams, we can not only improve the quality of the core content in line with Google’s guidelines, but produce a stronger information architecture through recommending or implementing various design changes, craft an off-site linking strategy for pages that may benefit from increased trust flow and keep any and all content changes in line with the overall SEO campaign.
For more information as to how our teams can help you and your website, feel free to get in touch with a member of our team, today. You can fill out our enquiry form, or give us a call on 0800 088 6000.