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What is “Low-Quality” Content?

By Valerie DiCarlo on Oct 15, 2018

Content development is an essential part of building a strong customized SEO plan. But just creating any old content isn’t good enough. You need to know what type of content will help you reach your online marketing goals and what type of content will hurt you because it’s considered “low quality” by Google (and treated accordingly). 

Key Indicators for Low-Quality Content

So here are several key indicators of low-quality content:

Indicator 1: The content doesn’t achieve its main purpose.

Google wants to make sure that its customers (the searchers) are getting their questions answered or needs met through the results of a query. They do this by matching a searcher’s query with a page that intends to answer or solve the query. Consequently, pages that are not successful in achieving their main purpose can be considered “low quality.”

Some common reasons pages don’t achieve their main purpose are because:

  • Your content is random. There’s not a clear (original) purpose of the page to begin with. Every single legacy site page, article, case study, blog post, etc. must have purpose.
  • The page isn’t maintained, so the information is out-of-date or difficult for the user to access.
  • The purpose of the page can’t be ascertained – by the reader or search engines. A content development strategy is just that – a STRATEGY. Plan your content strategies with purpose and goals:
    • Do you have a keyword strategy?
    • Is it for a pillar page strategy?
    • Does it provide answers, educate and benefit your audience?
    • Can you earn links with your content?
    • Is it for driving social engagement?
  • The page’s authorship isn’t clear.
  • There’s not a lot of information about the author (and not a good reason for the mystery).
  • The content is plagiarized.
  • The author doesn’t have adequate expertise or authority (or at least have traceable expertise and authority online) on the topic.
  • The author or website have a reputation for poor quality or misleading content.

Indicator 2: The content provides a negative experience to the searcher. If a search engine sends people to frustrating, offensive, or unhelpful pages, the search engine will lose its searchers. So search engines want to make sure that the searchers’ experiences are positive, which means avoiding pages that have:

  • Ads that distract from the main content.
  • Click-bait titles intended to shock readers (especially when the content doesn’t warrant the melodrama).
  • Fraudulent, misleading or malicious information (especially when this includes hate speech about groups of people).
  • Poorly written or poorly organized information (grammar matters!).
  • Irrelevant links, suspicious links, or links that result in downloading malware.
  • Long page-loading wait times (any device).
  • A page or site with poor mobile usability, or non-mobile-friendly content.

Indicator 3: The authority or expertise of the author is questionable. More than ever before, search engines are using the authority and expertise of a source to determine the rankings of search engine results pages (SERPs). That’s why it’s absolutely essential to make the information about authorship transparent.

Pages can be considered “low quality” when:

  • The page’s authorship isn’t clear.
  • There’s not a lot of information about the author (and not a good reason for the mystery).
  • The content is plagiarized.
  • The author doesn’t have adequate expertise or authority (or at least have traceable expertise and authority online) on the topic.
  • The author or website have a reputation for poor quality or misleading content.

So what do you do with content that meets this description?

If you do have content that fits these descriptions, you essentially have two options:

Pitch it or fix it.

If the problem is with the content itself (that it’s not well written, doesn’t address real needs, isn’t from a trustworthy author, or isn’t very robust), you should probably delete it or do an extensive re-write. If your problem is with the user experience or demonstrating the expertise behind the content, you can do work to improve your website content’s navigation, transparency, and relevance.

Although the process may take some time and hard work, making sure the content you develop is high quality can make major strides in your website’s SEO.