4 Signs Google Would Rate Your Webpages as Low Quality
Optimizing for SEO and getting people to find out about your products or businesses through organic web search (non-advertising) is a tough job. In recent years, new Google algorithms were introduced to penalize “low quality” contents or webpages.
For example, Google Panda algorithms were introduced to evaluate your website and reward high quality, unique content webpages. If it detects “low quality” sites or “thin contents”, Google will penalize them by not ranking it highly in the search result.
Google also shifted to “semantic search” where it disqualifies lower quality pages and reward contents that are optimized for user intents to rank higher.
In other words, your SEO efforts will be in vain unless you optimize your webpages using the proper SEO.
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What defines “low quality” webpages? How can you avoid making these SEO mistakes? Let’s look at each of these one by one!
1. Mobile pages with intrusive interstitials
Google dislikes mobile pages that has “intrusive interstitial”.
In January 2017, Google has announced an update to penalize – or lowering its rankings of mobile webpages that contains intrusive popups, irrelevant ads, etc.
What are intrusive?
The definition of “intrusive” as explained by Google, generally means:
“pages where content is not easily accessible to a user on the transition from the mobile search results may not rank as highly”
- Popups that are hard to “close” or “exit” on mobile
- Standalone ads that promote something totally irrelevant with the main content
- Popups that cover 99% of the main content (so desperate!)
What are not intrusive?
However, not all popups are bad for mobile SEO. Google offers “green light” gestures for these interstitial categories:
- Popups that are meant to inform user about legal information such as acceptance of Terms and Conditions or Cookies
- Ads popups that leave enough space for mobile user to “close” or “exit”
- Instructions popups that show visitors walkthrough or what to do next
Always make sure what you have to offer on webpages provide actual values and meanings for a user. Get rid of irrelevant popups or ads that doesn’t serve real purpose for what a user is looking for.
2. Webpages with excessive internal links
Internal linking is a powerful strategy for SEO. Proper internal links placement across your website can improve your rankings due to:
- It helps to pass link juices to other webpages and boost rankings
- It helps the user to navigate to other useful resources on your website
However, too much of this practice will become deceptive to the search engine. Google will consider a webpage as “low quality” if the site owners:
- Over-repeat internal links in the sidebar and footer area
- Throwing links that are totally irrelevant to the main content, i.e. to promote irrelevant products
- Pointing all internal links to top-navigation pages
- Lots of repetitive keyword in your anchor text
3. Contents that are “duplicate”
Duplicate contents occur when you have more than one copy of similar (or with little variation) of content appears over the Internet in more than one place.
Google will consider duplicate contents as low quality contents. This is because near-similar content confuses Google as to which versions should search engine index – which one is the most relevant to answer search queries – which one Google should rank.
Well, it’s not exactly correct to say duplicate contents are simply “copy and paste” contents. I’ve put together a few cases where search engine will consider as duplicate:
URLs duplication can cause duplicate content problem. Sometimes they are created by the website owners unintentionally; other times it can be caused by technical configurations.
Here’re some common creators for URL duplication:
- Using dynamic URLs on the website that has multiple session IDs stored in the URL
- Using tracking parameters in the URL
- Incorrect settings in content management system (CMS) or plugins that auto-generates duplicate URLs
- Incorrect URL redirection
Copied contents on product information pages
Google doesn’t define “contents” as only blog posts or news articles. As long as you have a webpage, with a URL address and with some words on it – it becomes a content page in Google’s eyes.
Therefore, even if you don’t have a Blog page on your website, you still have to avoid other informational pages to have duplicate copies.
This is what happens to most e-commerce websites. Most e-commerce sites have many product pages that they will write product information about those products they sell.
If the items they sell are sourced from the same supplier, they are more likely to use back the same manufacturer’s descriptions. Which creates identical contents across different product pages on the websites.
HTTP vs. HTTPS webpages
If you have both “http” and “https” versions of your website indexed on search engine – and both versions store the same piece of web contents, it might cause duplicate contents issue.
This problem often occur when the site owners just installed an SSL certificate on their domain and did not perform proper URL redirection.
WWW vs. NON-WWW webpages
Similarly, if you have both “www” and “non www” versions of your website appears over the Internet – and both versions share the same content copies, it might cause content duplication.
A proper way to handle both website versions is to have your preferred domain setup (say you prefer http://mysite.com). This can be done by setting canonical URL in your site header which will let Google know of your personal preference. So that you can avoid having both versions indexed on search result.
How to fix duplicate content issues?
Other than removing identical content copies or scraped contents from your website, duplicate content issue can be extremely technical and daunting to fix.
If you are not technical and not sure whether your website have this problem, I’d recommend you to go through an in-depth SEO audit and let your web programmers to do the fixes for you.
This will prevent broken links, server errors or rankings loss – especially if you have a large and well-established websites on search result.
4. Contents with poor keyword usage
Writing a lot of new blog posts doesn’t guarantee Google will rank your site highly on search. As Google now prefers to rank contents that effectively answer “queries” or “true intents” that a user is searching for.
Relevancy and user intent
For example, a dentist is writing about “dental implant surgery” and make good use technical jargon to describe the procedures of implanting teeth. However, search engine might choose not to rank highly for this content – if people are more interested in searching for “dental implant prices.”
This is when keyword research comes into play. A high quality keyword research will help you discover the right language your customers are using to find your products or services.
Therefore, when you apply these keywords in your contents, you help Google to return the most relevant webpages on search engine result page (SERP). This piece of content will more likely to rank higher – which eventually helps your website drive more traffic and sales.
Even though optimizing for keywords are effective for better contents and better rankings, it has to be done with moderation.
Keyword stuffing is one of the example of over-optimization. It used to be a popular strategy to boost site rankings. Today’s SEO doesn’t work that way anymore. Google will consider keyword-stuffed contents as low quality contents. It will penalize websites that over-repeat keywords in these areas on your webpages:
- Content paragraph
- Inbound anchor text
- Site footer
Having low quality webpage can impact your rankings and cause your website not to rank highly on search engine result page (SERP).
Therefore, it’s important for website owners to take note of these factors. The next step you need to do is to improve your webpages for maximum rankings impact using proper SEO.
You don’t want to write contents that no one is searching for, or contains zero value to the users.
You also want to avoid loading too much of target keywords, links, irrelevant popups and duplication on your webpage structure – that could cause Google to penalize your website.
About the Author: Zoe Chew is a SEO training instructor and Founder at mashwebby.com . She developed high quality online products with her expertise in digital marketing/SEO to help business owners increase traffic and sales.