John Mueller Says Low Search Visibility Does Not Necessarily Mean Low Quality
Site owners and publishers create Google SEO content to boost their rankings and gain traffic. An SEO recently asked Google’s John Mueller for advice about content with low traffic and poor search visibility. Mueller replied that low traffic does not necessarily mean that an SEO content page is of low quality and offered solutions to solve the issues regarding low-traffic web pages.
The person began their question by sharing their site’s background. They said their website has a hub and spoke architecture. A hub page, for instance, could be Eric Clapton, while the spokes could be about the guitar he uses – with each spoke page being relatively small. These pages have pictures or embedded videos with unique font content.
The SEO went on to say that they have more than a hundred thousand of these pages, and Google has crawled and indexed the majority of them. The problem is that only a third of these pages get traffic through search. So, they thought that the reason for the minimal search visibility could be the pages’ lack of authority.
Remembering what Mueller said in the past, the person asked if they should de-index the pages or canonicalise them because they were worried about their site’s quality score.
Many in the SEO community regularly discuss the matter because they want to know the factors that might make the system consider their Google SEO content pages “low quality”. Knowing what’s bad for SEO can help them craft the perfect strategy to turn things around.
However, Mueller said that Google does not have a “quality score” for the organic search engine results pages (SERPs), and he emphasised this important point in his answer. He also said that people should note that the quality score could be something that comes from the ad side.
Next, Mueller discussed the different methods of solving the low search visibility problem. He said that one should take action if they think they have low-quality content pages. They could improve those pages, combine two or more of the same topic pages, or remove them altogether.
Mueller said that if content pages with low search visibility are useful, they are not necessarily low-quality. Some site owners think that their pages have minimal visibility in search results because of quality issues, but in reality, there are many other explanations for why these incidents happen.
For instance, some websites have a lot of their traffic go to their head pages. Meanwhile, tail pages are just as valuable, but they are meant for a smaller target audience, so they do not gain a lot of traffic. In this scenario, they are still useful and high-quality pages, so one does not need to remove them just because they do not get enough traffic.
How To Fix Low-Quality Pages At Scale
Mueller then discussed the difficulties of dealing with hundreds of thousands of low-quality pages.
It makes sense to improve the quality of these pages, but this would be an overly tedious task, especially with the sheer number of pages that need to be worked on. Therefore, some people either remove or combine these pages.
However, if one opts to use a canonical to combine the pages, they should keep in mind how canonicalisation works. Google’s system only takes the canonical page into account when site owners combine two pages.
For instance, let’s say that a site owner combined two pages: one page is about Eric Clapton’s shoes, while the other page discusses his guitars. If the site owner says the guitar page is canonical for the shoes page, Google will de-index the latter, and the page would focus solely on the guitars. Therefore, if a user searches for Eric Clapton shoes, they will not find the site owner’s pages about the topic in the search results.
Canonicalising websites is just one of the different approaches to take, but Mueller warns site owners and online businesses that there are consequences to keep in mind. In cases like these, he advised publishers to take the content from the page that they want to remove and include it into a more important page with the same topic. Doing so will make the latter stronger and guarantee that Google indexes the content from the non-canonical page.
Identifying Quality And Traffic Issues
The SEO’s question was basically about two topics: content quality and search traffic. Mueller’s answer gave clarity on both.
If one disassociates the quality issue from a page’s low search visibility, then the plan of action becomes a bit clearer. The site owner will have to look for a way to make their web pages perform better in search results.
Mueller suggests combining hundreds of low-quality pages to make bigger and stronger ones, provided that there is valuable SEO content to work with. Otherwise, one should rewrite their content or completely get rid of it. Another option is to redirect it to a web page with a similar but better topic.
What Makes Up A Quality Page For Google?
Google has its own ideas about what makes a high-quality page. Here are some of them:
- Has unique content
- The page’s value to searches should be unique and different
- Has a lot of external sources (reference-worthy)
- Has high-quality pages linking to the content, whether it is an internal or external link
- The page answers the user’s query
- The page loads fast
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