Diagnosis before treatment, right? Rushing in to optimize your website, to give it a major boost in SERPs, without having first properly determined which are its “sore points” is like... shooting a bow and arrow blindfolded! You need to identify the low quality pages on your site first things first!
Before Google does...
Let's find out precisely which signals determine Google to “label” a site as low or high quality website. Then, let us give you some suggestions on what key metrics to focus on and how to combine them for addressing those “detected” low-quality pages more efficiently.
Features of a “High-Quality Website” in Google's Eyes
What's Google's definition of “quality”? You obviously need to clarify this aspect before you can, yourself, sort the pages on your site into “low quality” and “high quality” pages.
Here are the most relevant “indicators” that make for a “valuable” web page in Google's eyes:
- unique content
- plenty of other websites/external sources linking to it
- high-quality pages (even from your own website) linking to it
- uniquely valuable content: reaching for “uniqueness” is no longer enough; aiming for a certain uniqueness providing value to the searchers, that's the latest standard that Google sets these days
- content that meets the searchers' needs, that fully answers the question they Google
- non-written content is backed by text alternatives (ALT attributes for images, video transcriptions for video content etc.)
- “easy-to-digest” content that's nicely structured, which enhances readability and comprehension
- correctly spelled content with zero grammar mistakes: unless you want to witness Google removing your featured snippets from the search results
- optimal page load time
- fully responsive, accessibility-supporting UI and intuitive UX
Hardly Relevant Metrics For Determining a Page's Value
“With so many seemingly actionable metrics at my fingertip, which ones should I be tracking in fact?” you say? Well, not the following ones (taken as “raw data” can be misleading) for a start:
- non-contextualized bounce rate: a high bounce rate is not implicitly an “alarming” signal; your content could still be meeting their needs and answering their questions; if it's simple questions that they need to find answers to, once your visitors get them, they''... leave your site!
- organic traffic: if visitors keep accessing a certain page on your website, it doesn't automatically mean that its content is “high quality”! They could keep coming in for some totally different reasons, like the long-tail keywords that this page's content is “stuffed” with, for instance
- time spent on site: since lengthy visits on your site could also mean that your users are “desperately” looking for the information they need and which is not easily accessible to them; or that they're striving to close the entire “avalanche” of pop-ups that you welcome them with on your website
- assisted conversions: even though it doesn't live up to your expectations in terms of conversion rate, it still doesn't mean that this page's content is necessarily low quality; maybe you just need to change its target audience segment for example
Context is everything in these metrics' cases! So, don't take this data for granted when putting together your site optimization strategy. They might just reveal to you only half truths and mislead you to take the wrong actions!
Metrics That DO Help You Identify The Low Quality Pages on Your Site
For (even) more efficiency, put together combos of these metrics here! They are the signals to watch out for when you try to identify the low quality pages on your site:
- external and internal
- total number of visits
- closely analyze your visitors' behavior once they land on your web pages (per visit)
When they leave your currently examined web page, do they leave it for another web page on your site, do they keep browsing through or do they go back to the Google's search results page instead?
That is the question! Answer it and you'll identify the low quality pages on your site!
Off-site performance indicators:
- external links
- social shares: an “intensively” shared page of your website might not meet your visitors' needs, yet it could still provide high-quality content (since it's “shareable”)
- linking root domains
- type site: http://enteryourdomainhere.com into Google's search box or bar and you'll get the list of all the indexed pages on your website
- look for duplicate content: multiple URLs can show up when you type in the URL of your site or the one of a specific page on your website; and that signals a “uniqueness issue” you should handle asap
- deep-analyze the pages that rank for their own title
- evaluate the click-through rates showing up in Google Search Console
You Can Take It From Here...
Now that you've broken that “aura” of mystery surrounding Google's own tactics for “grading” web pages it's time to... get your hands dirty!
We suggest you to organize your page URLs in some sort of spreadsheet (a basic one would be just fine) and to sort them into three different categories:
- the high-quality pages
- the pages that require fixing here and there: the ones that need addressing
- the “weak links”: meaning the low-quality ones, of course; do make an experiment (so make sure you make copies first and foremost) and see if you can track any notable improvements once you remove this bulk of zero-value pages from your website
How about you? Have you got any other techniques up your sleeve in order to identify the low quality pages on your site before Google does?