Our recent article delved into quality content as defined by Google. It's crucial to understand what Google considers high-quality content, but it's equally important to understand what falls on the other end of the spectrum.
To define the lower side of the spectrum as per Google's standards, we will take a closer look at Google's Search Quality Evaluators Guidelines. These guidelines provide a comprehensive framework for assessing the quality of web pages and ensuring that they meet Google's standards for relevance, usefulness, and credibility.
By understanding these guidelines, website owners and content creators can create content that ranks well in search results and provides value to the end-users.
How Google Defines Low-Quality Content
According to the guidelines, low-quality content is,
“pages that do not achieve their purpose well because they are lacking in an important dimension or have a problematic aspect.”
To evaluate the quality of a given page, a Search Quality Evaluator will typically consider several different factors. These may include the quality and relevance of the page's main content, as well as the reputation of the website or the individual responsible for creating the content.
Additionally, evaluators will often consider factors related to Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (E-E-A-T), as these can be important indicators of likely reliable and informative content.
Overall, when determining the quality of online content, several factors must be considered to arrive at an accurate assessment.
Low-Quality vs. Lowest-Quality Content
Google has two tiers of low-quality content. “Lowest-quality” refers to especially harmful content with no value whatsoever. “Low-quality” refers to pages that may have beneficial purposes but lack adequate information.
First and foremost, a Search Evaluator’s job is to detect harmful content. Google defines harmful content as pages that intend to deceive, cause harm, or are considered spammy and should be given the lowest quality rating.
If they’ve determined the page is not harmful, they move on to assess the page attributes. When evaluating content for quality, the evaluators consider specific criteria to determine if it is of the lowest quality.
- The page is hacked, defaced, or spammed.
- The page is gibberish or makes no sense.
- The main content is copied, auto-generated, or created without adequate effort.
- The main content is created with so little effort, originality, talent, or skill that the page fails to achieve its purpose.
- The title of the page is exaggerated, shocking, or misleading.
- Ads obstruct the main content.
- The page or site lacks authorship, especially for YMYL pages or others requiring trust.
- A negative reputation.
- The page or website is untrustworthy.
- The page lacks E-E-A-T.
What Do Search Evaluators Look For When Assessing Low-Quality Content?
Google has identified five critical aspects that make up low-quality content. These factors include a lack of E-E-A-T, low-quality main content, distracting ads, a negative reputation, and unsatisfying information. Let's dive into each of these factors in more detail.
Lack of E-E-A-T
Search Evaluators assess webpages to ensure they have an appropriate level of E-E-A-T, which stands for expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. If a page is deemed low quality, it may exhibit the following characteristics:
- The content creator writes about topics they have no experience with, similar to someone reviewing a product they have never used.
- The content creator lacks expertise in the topic, such as someone attempting to write about car maintenance without knowledge.
- The content creator or website is not an authority on the topic, like a marketing agency providing financial advice.
- The website is not credible, like a medical site with no studies to support its claims.
The E-E-A-T criteria are crucial for evaluating the quality of a webpage. According to Google's guidelines, a lack of E-E-A-T cannot be compensated for by a positive reputation. These criteria and characteristics are essential for content creators and website owners who want to produce high-quality content and rank higher in search engine results.
Low-Quality Main Content
Google defines low-quality main content as “content that lacks adequate information, originality, talent, and skill to achieve the purpose of the page in a satisfying way.”
The main content may contain mild inaccuracies, such as:
- Little clarity or organization
- Summarizing or paraphrasing information without analysis.
- Filling content with large pictures or other distractions.
- Using others’ images instead of creating your own.
- Using commonly known facts that require little research.
- Using filler content.
- Using misleading titles that are considered clickbait.
Google’s main objective is to provide a satisfactory user experience. If Google were to deliver low-quality results to a query, it would have unsatisfied users.
While Google expects websites to use ads, there are times when ads and popups make it challenging to read the main content.
For example, say you visit a blog to read about different dog leashes, and before you can read the content, a window that advertises a discount code pops up. This popup would not necessarily classify as a distraction. However, if you don’t want the discount code and are having a hard time closing the popup, it would be a distraction.
Additionally, advertisements or popups with lewd photos or shocking titles can be labeled as distractions. These practices take away from the user experience and can make your content hard to read.
Content is believed to be of low quality if the creator or the organization behind it has a negative reputation. Such a negative reputation may arise from social media comments, reviews, and ratings.
However, it's worth noting that most businesses may have a few negative reviews. So, it's essential to do your research and review all the reviews, comments, and ratings to determine whether a business has a negative reputation.
Unsatisfying Information About the Website & Creator
Google expects businesses and creators to be transparent with their content, especially with specific types of content. This content includes:
- YMYL content
- Sites that process financial transactions
- Service-based websites
- Lead-generation websites
One exception to this rule is a long-standing alias that can identify the content creator. Otherwise, it should be relatively easy for readers to look up information about the organization or creator who publishes the content.
How to Fix Low-Quality Content
Once you clearly understand what constitutes low-quality content, you can start reviewing your website to locate and address these issues. This process might involve correcting grammar and spelling mistakes, removing irrelevant or outdated information, or adding your unique perspective to topics. By taking these steps, you can improve the overall quality of your website and enhance its credibility with both users and search engines.
Conduct a Content Audit:
Start by conducting a comprehensive audit of your existing content. Identify pages with thin content, excessive keyword stuffing, or grammatical errors. This will serve as a foundation for your improvement efforts.
Optimize for User Intent:
Understand the intent behind user searches and tailor your content to meet those needs. Focus on providing solutions and valuable information that align with what users are seeking.
Implement SEO Best Practices:
Adopt ethical and effective SEO practices. Use keywords naturally, optimize meta tags, and ensure your content is structured for easy readability.
Proofread and Edit:
Take the time to proofread your content thoroughly. Correct any grammatical errors, spelling mistakes, or awkward phrasing. This attention to detail enhances the professionalism of your content.
Emphasize the uniqueness of your content. Avoid duplicating material from other sources, and strive to offer a fresh perspective or unique insights that set your content apart.