The question is about low quality content and the best approach to it, and John Mueller from Google did say that it can sometimes be confusing with seemingly differences of opinions about what to do with it.
Gary Illyes from Google has always been a strong advocate for improving content, but often also says that some content is not worth improving, such as hacked content or spun content. He also recently said that removing low quality content won’t suddenly result in a ranking boost for the rest of the site.
Here is what Mueller said:
So I think there have been multiple hangouts where we say one thing and then conferences sometimes we say something else and it can be a bit confusing with regards to understanding what you need to do.
And I think this is something where you need to take a look at your website and take a look at your specific case.
So in general when it comes to low quality content, that’s something where we see your website is providing something but it’s not really that fantastic, and there are two approaches to actually tackling this.
On the one hand, you can improve your content and from my point of view if you can improve your content, that’s probably the best approach possible because then you have something really useful on your website, you’re providing something useful for the web in general.
So that’s generally when we talk with the quality engineers, that’s what they tell people to do, it’s like well, you clearly had a reason for putting this out, now be serious about the content that you put our and actually make sure it’s useful, make sure it’s high quality.
So improving it is probably the best thing to do in general, because in the end that’s extra value that you have for your website, it’s probably something you know something about or you have someone on your team who knows something about it.
Then he talks about content that is on the spammy side of things, such as spun or other types of auto-generated content.
On the other hand, if you can’t improve the quality of that content because it’d just so much, or maybe you auto-generated all of this content at some point and you can kind of improve some small fraction of it, but a large part is something you can’t really change at all, then that makes sense to perhaps to be consistent there as well and say well I can’t do anything about this, so I’m just going to get rid of this and clean up.
And cleaning up can be done with noindex with a 404 or whatever you like to do there.
So both of those I think are valid strategies and of course, if you can make your content better, I think that’s always the best approach.
The answer isn’t much different from what Illyes has been saying, where it is best to improve the content unless it was spam content to begin with.
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