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Deleting low quality articles or leave as-is?

 4:51 pm on Mar 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

Since the farmer update I have been alarmed about old articles we have on one of our clients sites. Some of these article date way back and are all low quality (useless). Some are even feeds that were imported into the site (using a feed plugin) with just a snippet paragraph and a link back to the original article. This was done way back in 2006.

Now the site has great unique articles. But these old ones we tried to kick start the site with are terrible.

All of them are indexed in google but I am not sure if it is better to 404 delete them, "noindex" them or just leave them be?

As you all know making allot of changes can sometimes trip filters or penalties, which is why I am careful. I am talking about 300 articles here.

Would you:

a) 404 delete the low quality articles?
b) no index them?
c) leave as-is?

Thanks everyone,



 5:04 pm on Mar 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

Delete them if they aen't getting you any traffic and more importantly the conversions.

But do study the backlinks to them and see if you could 301 redirect a few, if they have good number of backlinks.

noindex may not help as it is not a case of low quality.They are scraped content.


 5:06 pm on Mar 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

They are allot of articles and I doubt any of them have back-links. Yes, they are mostly old scraped content and we plan to 404 them. Just do not want to trip any penalty or filter. Any chances of this?

Do you guys thing this will benefit the site or create issues?


 5:10 pm on Mar 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

How many pages does the site have? if 300 is a low percentage of the total content, i don't see any issues.


 5:24 pm on Mar 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

Has thousands of pages. A forum, blog and news section.

3,060 results


 5:39 pm on Mar 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

Why not improve them and leave them in place?


 5:45 pm on Mar 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

Improving upon your own content is better than improving upon scraped content, unless you can provide more value in that improvement.


 5:50 pm on Mar 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

Improving scraped content? Not sure if that would do it. We will either 404 them or leave them as is.

We do have articles that date back to 2008 that need improving, new images etc...? Would ranking for articles such as these decrease if you implemented allot of changes to the body text?


 6:00 pm on Mar 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

Delete them, why take a chance?


 6:25 pm on Mar 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

Dont delete them. Rather re-write them? I did it for my clients websites.


 6:28 pm on Mar 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

We will either 404 them or leave them as is.

You'll want to 410 Gone all of those if they don't have an equivalent replacement that you can 301 to. The 410 will act just like a URI Removal Request and they'll be gone after the next crawl of the site. They get removed pretty quick once that 410 is seen. 404s are too vague and those URIs will continue to be requested if there are links pointing to them. Also, it may take a few crawling cycles before they get removed from the index.


 1:21 am on Mar 18, 2011 (gmt 0)

We looked into deleting pages that received no traffic in the last three months. We have about 30K pages.

We checked analytics and webmaster tools. It looks like we only had about 10K pages receive traffic. That means 20K are basically worthless - and perhaps can count against us.

I generated a list in Analytics but it didn't show the pages that got ZERO traffic, only pages that received one visitor or more.

Any ideas on how to figure out which pages didn't receive any traffic?


 1:28 am on Mar 18, 2011 (gmt 0)

Here is another angle to that question:

After the Farmer update we noticed that the rank fell on some pages but jumped up on others. What if you delete pages that could generate income after Google updates again a month or year from now?


 1:33 am on Mar 18, 2011 (gmt 0)

We checked analytics and webmaster tools. It looks like we only had about 10K pages receive traffic. That means 20K are basically worthless.

Pages are never worthless



 1:46 am on Mar 18, 2011 (gmt 0)

There were a couple concerns we had.

The first one, which it seems like everyone is thinking about, is the concern that the pages could hurt our overall ranking. I don't know if they do or not. I would love to find that out.

The second concern is load time. That particular website is a Drupal site. It has always been slow compared to our WP sites. Drupal calls MySQL more for each page. The more records the slower the load time.

Now, perhaps a site with only 10K records will load quicker than one with 30K. Maybe a third quicker? I have found that the number of records doesn't matter much on WP.


 1:47 am on Mar 18, 2011 (gmt 0)

Move the low quality content to a new site, after all this time, if might be unique in an odd sort of way, why waste it.

Remove the low quality content from the main site and see what happens.

[edited by: minnapple at 1:55 am (utc) on Mar 18, 2011]


 1:55 am on Mar 18, 2011 (gmt 0)

That particular website is a Drupal site. It has always been slow compared to our WP sites. Drupal calls MySQL more for each page. The more records the slower the load time.

If the content doesn't change extremely often, you might consider a server caching solution, too. There are several available for Drupal.


 2:08 am on Mar 18, 2011 (gmt 0)

Ted, We add new content every day but the old pages don't change at all (we don't allow comments on that site). We looked into caching the old pages a few years ago and I forget why we didn't do it.

Another thing we were considering was converting the Drupal site into a Word Press site. Back then we could have done it, but now we can't.

Minnapple - moving the low quality content is a great idea.


 8:23 am on Mar 18, 2011 (gmt 0)

when people like John Mu suggest moving low quality content to new domain, do they also mean a sub-domain?

1)I don't see any reason to have a domain for just low quality content? You can rather not have the content.what do you people suggest? Moving it to a sub-domain or a new domain?

2) After moving the content to the new domain, should we then be doing a 1:1 301 redirect of every moved page?

3) Is moving the content to a new domain or sub-domain better than doing a noindex?


 9:26 am on Mar 18, 2011 (gmt 0)

Personally, I wouldn't even do a redirect. I would just move it and delete it. I have some sites with low quality content on them. They cost a few bucks a year and generate a little bit of money. We have had some domains since the 90s and the URL name is worth more than the content.

Is it worth transferring? How much is your time worth? LOL I was thinking about having my kids do it or move it through SQL some how.

almighty monkey

 12:17 pm on Mar 18, 2011 (gmt 0)

I've got a few clients with similar backlink profiles from dodgy articles.

Some of them have seen a minor drop, but not enough of one to make me think there's a penelty against the client. Rather, its more consistent with a chunk of their backlinks suddenly being removed.

Unless the entire backlink profile is articles, I wouldn't worry. It's not going to be as simple as 'He's written articles......geeeeettt hiiiimmmm!'. That would be too much of a gift for blackhatters to abuse.


 1:11 pm on Mar 18, 2011 (gmt 0)

almighty monkey, I agree with you on the fact that a chunk of backlinks have been removed for several pages.

I wasn't keeping track of the actual links I got but I know the overall numbers - no. of domains and total no. of links.I see a drop in these backlinks.It corresponds to the drop that I see in the SERPS. But I doubt that so many backlinks would have disappeared suddenly.I know for sure that many of these pages did not have links from article sites. They were genuine editorial links and genuine forum links from popular relevant forums.

Has google discounted a percentage of links based on this new quality score?

It does appear to have discounted genuine backlinks.Their quality algo has a long way to mature but they seem to have taken the approach of releasing it first and then working on it.

They are definitely having exception lists to this algo to make their SERPS look better.


 2:52 pm on Mar 18, 2011 (gmt 0)

I think we're wandering a bit from the topic. We're talking about low quality articles that are content on your own website, not low quality backlinks from article directories.


 3:32 pm on Mar 18, 2011 (gmt 0)

I'd 410 all of the low quality, largely scraped pages. This will have the effect of immediately improving your good to bad ratio. And, it puts you in a stronger position to understand what's happening with your site, and to make additional improvements which will be necessary in order to survive the changes we can anticipate over the next year.

Google has indicated this Panda update is just the beginning of a year's worth of changes; for the first time they are attempting to pay attention to quality and not just relevance; they think the update has been successful; they will use their "machine learning" approach in an effort to expand the reach and improve the precision, and there is every reason to assume they will make other changes which put more emphasis on quality in the future.

Some people have been complaining that Google didn't give us enough warning. Perhaps that's true, but we should all act as if we have been warned about even more dramatic changes ahead.

Panda represented the first little baby steps for a new approach to ranking results -- intended to affect 12% of all queries, intended to push down low quality content, and it's only been rolled out in the US.

Over the next year or two, it seems reasonable to anticipate:

a. many more queries will be affected.

b. they will try to detect and boost high quality content, and/or push down mediocre content.

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