Since the Panda update back in 2011, quality has been a key factor in how Google ranks websites. If your website has been active since before 2011, it may have old content that no longer meets quality standards, and this content will continue to bring down your rankings in SERPs. Even if you have a newer site, you could have the same problem, especially if you are unclear as to what is considered high quality and what is low quality.

High-Quality Content

For a site as a whole to be high-quality, Google requires it to have a significant amount of high-quality content.

Pages are judged to be of high quality if they meet the following criteria:

  • Topics: Every page must match the theme of the website. Better still, the website will have a good reputation for producing content on these topics.
  • Credibility: Each page must present authoritative information and demonstrate expert knowledge. To show credibility in articles and blog posts, provide links and citations to sources to back up your claims. If you are talking about your own products or services, include reviews and testimonials.
  • Free From Errors: It is difficult for users to trust what you are saying if your content has factual, grammatical, or spelling errors.
  • Length: Google prefers long-form content, as this provides space to examine an idea in depth and is an excellent way for the author to demonstrate a solid understanding of the topic. To rank high and gain links, aim for at least 1,000 words. If users are likely to consume content mostly on mobile devices, pages can be a little shorter, but less than 300 words is always too short.
  • Value: Every page of content must bring value to the users it is targeting. For instance, make sure product and service pages contain all the pertinent information. For blog content, make sure pages offer advice or insights that are different to what users will find anywhere else.
  • Additional Media: Not only does Google favor text content when the page also contains visuals or other media, these pages are also more likely to see shares. Any images and videos you include should directly relate to the written content. They should also be of high enough resolution to be aesthetically-pleasing without being so high that they take long to load.

Low-Quality Content

Google considers a website to be of low quality if much of its main content fails to meet requirements or if there is an unsatisfactory amount of main content. Your rankings will also drop if your website has a negative reputation or if secondary content is distracting or unhelpful.

Locate any low-quality content on your site by looking out for the following:

  • Duplicate Content: A couple of duplicates, although far from ideal, usually pose little problem. However, duplicates on a large scale, which is common for e-commerce websites, is a cause for concern. It is worthwhile creating unique content for each page, even for almost identical products.
  • Plagiarism: Plagiarized content also counts as a duplicate. If you accept guest-written blog posts or other content from people outside your company or reputable marketing agency, run it through a plagiarism checker before you publish. If other sites are taking your original content and using it as their own, report this to Google.
  • Traffic: Find pages that receive little or no traffic or are seeing a high bounce rate. Examine these pages to see if you can figure out what you are doing wrong. If the page simply has no value, delete it.
  • Broken Links: Evergreen content may still provide value to users, but only if it is free from broken links. Audit your entire website to locate broken links and remove or replace them.
  • Black Hat Tactics: Google wants you to create content primarily for your audience. No one likes to read keyword-stuffed content and pages with other tactics aimed at tricking search engines. They definitely don’t appreciate redirects and hidden links. Plus, these techniques rarely work these days and will only ruin your ranking.

Going forward, only create high-quality pages, to please both Google and your target audience. Bear in mind, you will still need to examine your site regularly — to eliminate low-performing pages, to seek out broken links, duplicate content, and errors, and to update pages to meet any new requirements from Google. Check out resources such as BoostUniversity for more help with improving your web content.