Have you ever considered that some of the content on your website might be damaging your brand because Google considers it to be low-quality content?

If you’ve read our free ebook then you’ll be familiar with evergreen content and how to use that to your advantage. But you should also know how to identify the opposite – content which is thin or of very little value to your website visitors.

Google has a list of questions it asks when its spider bots crawl your website for search engine optimisation including (and these are just a few of the dozens it mentions in a very useful article):

  • Would you trust the information presented in this article?
  • Is this article written by an expert or enthusiast who knows the topic well, or is it more shallow in nature?
  • Does this article provide a complete or comprehensive description of the topic?
  • Would you be comfortable giving your credit card information to this site?
  • Does this article have spelling, stylistic, or factual errors?
  • Are the topics driven by genuine interests of readers of the site, or does the site generate content by attempting to guess what might rank well in search engines?
  • Is the site a recognised authority on its topic?
  • Does the page provide substantial value when compared to other pages in search results?

Identifying Your Low-Quality Content

Moz’s Rand Fishkin goes into some excellent detail in a Whiteboard Friday post which highlights more of the questions mentioned above and looks at how Google actually applies those practically when it’s considering SERPs placement.

how to identify low-quality content by Moz

As marketers, we should always be constantly assessing our output and regularly monitoring the content we put on our website and social media channels. Poorly performing landing pages are going to have a negative effect on any campaign and will be one of the things Google highlights when crawling your site.

Pages with high bounce rates, low click-through rates, short engagement (i.e. bounces to another page or leaves the site completely), and low page views are all usually indicators of low-quality content or thin pages but can’t be dismissed instantly without further checks.

As Rand Fishkin points out in the Moz article: “A high bounce rate could be a fine thing if you’re answering a very simple query or if the next step is to go somewhere else or if there is no next step.

“So what I’m going to urge you to do is to think of these as a combination of metrics. Any time you’re analyzing for low versus high quality, have a combination of metrics approach that you’re applying.”

Identifying these through Google Analytics’ Search Console will take time and it’s not a simple task. A high click rate page may still have low engagement or high bounce once you begin to look at the data in more detail. 

Checking these against lead generation is one way to decide whether they’re worth ditching. If 500 people are looking at the page but no-one’s buying or signing up for your services, the page probably isn’t working.

Bounce rate, pages per session (how much the visitor moves through your website) and average session duration (the length of time they stay altogether) are statistics which should show improvements once you remove the problematic pages.

Tools To Help

Copyscape is a great place to start as it will analyse your site and then check elsewhere on the internet for duplicate content. This is a great help in finding if you’ve used the same text or similar in multiple pages.

It also helps with plagiarism or with finding out the article you’ve paid a freelance copywriter to produce has been used by someone else as well.

Screaming Frog SEO is another useful tool for a variety of reasons but one is the Duplicate Content Finder which will scan for duplicate URLs, check duplicated page titles, descriptions or headers and look for low content pages. It has a free version as well as a paid one. It can also be integrated with Google Analytics.

Beacon Our own app is a digital campaign intelligence platform, designed to help online marketers better measure and manage their digital marketing activities. It gives you incredibly detailed data about all the visits made to your website via tracked Beacon Links.

image of the beacon dashboard

By providing transparent access to campaign metrics, it allows accurate real-time reporting with actionable insights which means campaigns can be amended to take advantage of trends or tweaked to remove poorly performing channels.

Improving Your Content

It may sound obvious but well written, grammatically correct content rates highly on Google. Other basic good web design behaviours are also important. Non-text elements should have text alternatives – the “alt-text” option on your images should always be filled in and transcripts made available for video content or slideshows. 

External links to sites which offer more information also rate highly, as do links to your site from other pages and citing sources is an absolute must for any quotes or comments used in an article or on a landing page.

Remove poor performing content or, if you have a low-quality landing page which is still receiving a lot of traffic but not converting into sales, look at what’s on it and rework the information provided. Are you making people fill out a complicated form for example?

Regularly audit your site to make sure any information you’re using is up-to-date. Keep cornerstone content pages relevant for all your evergreen articles and landing pages. This is your bread and butter when it comes to SEO.

This content should be easily identifiable, easy to find and all other posts on a similar topic should like to the same piece of cornerstone content. Think of it like the spokes of a wheel, all roads leading to the centre article. These internal links help Google rank your original piece as an important page on your website, so improving SERPs.

Make sure you’re experts at what you’re writing about and seek to position your blog or website as one of the authorities which other people refer to. If you know your subject, then it’s easy to create multiple articles which focus in on your speciality and help promote those cornerstone content pages.

The more you tweak your website, the more you remove the low-quality pages which can drag your ranking down.