Mueller Explains How Google Assesses Overall Site Quality
In an SEO Office Hours hangout, a person asked Google’s John Mueller about their website’s poor translation issues, wondering if it could cause quality problems for the site as a whole. Mueller’s response to the question provides insights into how just one section could impact the entire website and its rankings, as well as how one could improve website SEO quality. He told website SEO experts how Google rates site quality when only part of it is of poor quality.
Low-Quality Part of a Website
The SEO asking the question wondered if a page’s bad translation might cause problems for the entire website, particularly the domain’s more established main language versions.
Then he used the example of a well-known French-language website with a section containing low-quality auto-generated content in German.
The SEO made it clear that he knows about Google’s strong disapproval of poor-quality translations. Moreover, he said that he wanted to know whether or not one low-quality section could negatively impact the rest of the website or if any negative effects are limited to that section only.
One Section Can Affect the Entire Website
Mueller confirmed that the poor quality of a single section wouldn’t just affect itself but the entire website. He said that the problem is not about the page being a translated version of another piece of content. It’s the fact that Google considers the website’s overall quality.
If Google sees that several important parts of a website are of poor quality, it may take a step back and think that the entire site may not be as good as it first thought. As a result, the negative effects could reach other parts of a website.
So, in a nutshell, if one has a very low-quality translation that’s indexed and visible in the search results engine pages (SERPs), it might harm the original content or other higher quality translations.
No Specific Red Flags to Determine Website Quality
Sometimes, online businesses and site owners search for huge red flags that stand out, but Mueller explains that site quality is more about how several elements go well together, determining whether the website is of good or poor quality.
The person asked a follow-up question about translations, and Mueller discussed Google’s overall website quality assessment. He said that a website’s low-quality sections might cause Google to rate the entire site negatively in the quality assessment.
From Mueller’s perspective, Google tries to understand the website’s overall quality. Assessing this is not about looking for specific factors, like finding a few misspellings on a page and then marking the website as low quality. Mueller said that these things happen individually.
According to Mueller, it is difficult to say that all these elements are indications of low quality when considered individually. Therefore, Google needs to gather and evaluate all the elements together before determining what the mix is.
And for that reason, when a person significantly improves website SEO overall or when things get worse, it takes more time for Google’s system to find out that the entire website is now better or worse. It means that Google does not use any specific factor when assessing a website’s overall quality.
Overall Website Quality
Mueller has always placed a lot of emphasis on overall website quality over the past years. Site owners and online businesses must learn about it, considering how many people complain about unindexed content.
Based on Mueller’s answer, it is important to consider that there is no specific red flag to blame for negative website quality. Instead, there are many factors working together that contribute to the quality’s overall impression.
Autogenerated German Language Content
The person asking the question mentioned a publisher who added a section with autogenerated German-language content. In the past, Mueller had warned website SEO experts against creating poorly translated content.
According to Mueller, Google does not consider translated content as a duplicate. He said that the translated content would have different letters and words on the page, so Google would see it as unique. However, there are several issues that one might encounter if they use content generators or translation tools for writing content in a different language, especially one that they aren’t familiar with.
So, if one uses an automatic translation or generator software to create content in a different language, Google would consider it to be of lesser quality because such tools often give low-quality output.
However, if one uses an automatic translation or generator software to make content in a different language and then have native speakers modify it, there is a good chance to produce a higher quality version of the content. Mueller said that this is perfectly acceptable.
Moreover, poorly translated content can be a huge quality issue. Mueller mentioned that if autogenerating content is done at scale, it could violate Google’s spam rules, which strongly prohibit publishing autogenerated content. The spam team might manually step in and choose to not index the content.
According to Google Search Central’s policy for automatically generated content, the search engine company will take actions against:
- Content that does not make sense to the readers but may contain search keywords
- Content generated from scraping RSS/Atom feeds or search results
- Content generated through automated processes
- Content made using automated synonymising or obfuscation techniques
- Content translated using automated tools without human review before publishing
- Content made by combining and stitching articles from different web pages without adding sufficient value
Using Freelancers to Edit Autogenerated Content
One can use a freelancer to fix the autogenerated content in a different language, but Mueller also shared the downside to that solution. If the freelancer or translator is unfamiliar with the content niche and just translates it as is, the article might not appear credible to the readers. Therefore, Mueller suggests that one should think of the content’s quality aspect instead of just translating it.
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