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In an episode of “Search Off the Record,” John Mueller and Gary Illyes from Google’s Search Relations team reinforced the pivotal role of quality content in Google’s indexing and crawling processes. They highlighted that quality significantly influences all aspects of search, from sitemaps to ranking.
Quality’s Ubiquitous Influence
Illyes emphasised that quality is not a mere cog in the system; it’s the driving force behind everything Google’s search systems undertake. Quality signals guide Google’s crawl scheduler in prioritising URLs for indexing. When faced with a set of URLs from a site, Google assembles an ordered list based on its quality predictions.
Furthermore, quality takes centre stage in indexing decisions. In Illyes’s words, “It’s always quality. And I think externally, people don’t necessarily want to believe it, but the quality, that’s the biggest driver for most of the indexing and crawling decisions that we make.”
Quality’s Impact on Crawling New Pages
The influence of a website’s quality extends to the crawling of new pages. For instance, if a new page is discovered through sitemaps, Google evaluates the quality of the previously crawled homepage to determine whether the new page should be indexed. This means the historical quality record is essential, even for freshly minted sites.
Quality vs. Rankings
While high-quality content is indispensable for Google’s crawling and indexing processes, it doesn’t guarantee top rankings. Illyes clarified that quality is not a direct ticket to Google’s first search results page. Other factors also come into play.
Quality’s Site-Wide Variability
Quality can vary across different parts of a website. A section known for consistently delivering high-quality content may receive preferential treatment compared to another section known for its lower quality. This distinction can influence how frequently Google’s crawlers visit these areas.
User-Generated Content (UGC)
Quality in user-generated content (UGC) is not uniform. If a pattern of lower-quality UGC is detected in a specific section, it can impact Google’s crawling behaviour for that part of the site. This underscores the importance of maintaining quality in all areas of a website.
Improving Site Quality
Illyes provided reassurance that it is possible to enhance a site’s quality, even if it previously contained low-quality content. The key is to remove such content, which can positively affect how Google perceives and interacts with the remaining pages.
Debunking SEO Myths
During the podcast, Illyes debunked some common SEO myths. Contrary to popular belief, duplicate content isn’t always a problem, and affiliate links are acceptable as long as the surrounding content is unique and valuable. The same principle applies to translated content, with a strong recommendation for human review of machine translations.
Affiliate Sites And Quality
Illyes made it clear that the quality of the content surrounding affiliate links matters significantly. If a product is thoroughly reviewed, accompanied by images, and features unique content, it is considered high-quality content, irrespective of its affiliation.
Enhancing a site’s overall quality can positively impact how Google crawls, indexes, and evaluates it. While quality content alone won’t guarantee top rankings, investing in valuable, unique content will likely enhance a site’s position in search results. The elimination of low-quality content remains a crucial step in this journey.
Why Google Introduces Algorithm Updates for Quality
Google continually implements algorithm updates to improve the quality of the search results and counteract efforts to manipulate rankings through unscrupulous SEO tactics. By refining the algorithms, Google ensures that authoritative and trustworthy content is given precedence, ultimately providing users with better and more relevant search results.
These updates are a proactive measure to maintain the integrity of Google Search and to uphold the principle that quality content should be the guiding light in the digital landscape.
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