At State of Search this week, I asked Gary Illyes from Google about the issue surrounding removing or noindexing low quality content versus leaving it or improving it. It has been a long debated topic from SEOs, especially for those sites suffering from Panda issues.
I specifically asked about whether or not noindexing low quality content would improve the rankings on the remaining higher quality pages on the site, and it seems as though simply removing low quality content isn’t necessarily the “quick rankings fix” many assumed it was.
Its not guaranteed that you will see any positive effect from that. Basically if you have lots of crappy content pages and hopefully you are not going to rank for those pages, but if you do and you noindex those pages, then you are lowering your own traffic by noindexing those pages.
I don’t like the idea of noindexing pages, I would much rather see site owners improve the pages that show up in the search results. For those that don’t show up in the search results, those are not indexed, and if they are not indexed then typically they are not affecting your site.
This is something I also recommend – before removing content, check to see if there are any visitors to those pages and if there are Google search referrals to them. If there are, Google considers them high enough quality to at least include in the search results.
He does state that there are exceptions, such as if a site has been hacked and injected with a bunch of spam.
There are corner cases – for example of there are hacked pages, those will absolutely affect your search presence. Otherwise I would clearly work to improve those pages.
So removing low quality content won’t result in the fast fix with increased rankings across the rest of the site.
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