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Concentration of quality pages matters, should I delete pages?

 5:07 am on Aug 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

Im finding that just having great content on your site is not enough, you also need to trim the fat so to speak and have as few low quality, as per Google, urls and pages as possible.

This isn't news to many here but I wanted to share what I'm seeing on my site. It's an example that it may take many months(years?) to recover fully from your quality content being diluted by lower value content.

In my case I had a previously top ranked and heavily trafficked informational site in its niche of the web and, prior to Panda being set free, I had the misfortune of adding an entire dynamic store section to the site. Affiliate pages that my information seekers found useful and used quite a bit.

At first I thought it was a match made in heaven but that was only a short time before the first Panda iteration. When Panda his this site it stopped sending traffic to any of the 8,000 or so product pages(they had reviews, price comparisons etc but mine is an informational site, not a store).

Not only that but the traffic to the informational pages was cut in half, overnight. Of course I promptly removed the entire store section, it wasn't worth losing informational visitors and wasn't getting traffic anymore anyway, but traffic didn't return. Other things happened however including:

- GWT reported a plummeting number of incoming links, 90% of them disapeared.
- GWT reported a plummeting of visitor numbers, sitewide.
- Google search reported roughly 8,000 supplemental pages.

Since then, and it's been a long time now, the recovery has been slow but steady. The number of incoming links is still climbing in GWT, as is the traffic, and something is interesting in what GWT is telling me.

GWT is suggesting that the links I had on the informational pages prior to adding the store became unworthy when I added the store and are now being deemed worthy again that the store is gone. That's what I find most interesting, page A can definitely be affected by page B and link A can also be affected by page B.

For that reason a high concentration of AWESOME pages is mandatory in todays Google, imo, and I have a question: Should I, or would you, delete all pages Google/Bing/Yahoo is not sending any organic traffic to and not counting incoming links for?

I could trim an additional 10% of my pages at this point, even though they are fairly useful articles, and if Google doesn't like them they may be holding my other pages back too, right?

Any thoughts appreciated.



 6:58 pm on Aug 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

I'm working with one e-commerce site that has a similar Google challenge, and I've come to a similar conclusion that you have with your informational site. It is a bit frustrating to the site owners to even think about trimming their site.

One reason businesses like an online presence is that they are not limited by the dimensions of a physical shop. In a physical store, you cannot offer a nearly unlimited selection, but online you apparently can. Now it seems that you need to be an Amazon to get away with this and still have your strong pages rank in Google.

For e-commerce, I'd say that a product that doesn't sell should get the ax. But for an informational site, it's even more frustrating. I can't say I'm 100% convinced that constant trimming is the way out but I also don't have much experience to draw on right now.


 7:38 pm on Aug 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

If my users aren't paying attention to them, I'd probably delete them. If the users like them and Google doesn't, then I'd probably block them from Google but leave them on the site. If I'm convinced that Google is in error, I might try bringing just a few back to see if I can bring them in slowly.


 9:20 pm on Aug 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

@Sgt_Kickaxe - is yours a crowded space?


 9:20 pm on Aug 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

I've been doing a merge and purge on a much smaller site this week. My approach has always been to have a more comprehensive internal search than Google's engine. So the information is still there, but in some cases it's part of the deep web unless someone else links to it.

However if the engines don't like it, and people aren't sharing it, it's important to be ruthless.


 8:40 am on Aug 6, 2012 (gmt 0)

@Sgt_Kickaxe - is yours a crowded space?

I'd have to say it's not a hugely crowded space, it is however filled with knowledgeable visitors looking to further their hobby. In this space a content farm type of site stands little chance of lasting very long because it's fairly easy to tell when an author isn't 100% knowledgeable on the subject. That limits the number of competitors quite a bit.

I've gone ahead and trimmed the remaining 10% of my ignored(by Google) articles by removing them from Google but leaving them intact. I'll work on those pages and allow Google access to them again one at a time, as I can, but not before I wait a good three months to see if the other pages improve.

If you've done this before how did it go?


 4:25 pm on Aug 6, 2012 (gmt 0)

If you think the pages are useful to users but not to Google, why not noindex them? Wouldn't this get the "low quality content" (according to Googlebot) out of the index and potentially help you recover from Panda?


 7:51 pm on Aug 6, 2012 (gmt 0)

If you've done this before how did it go?

My site (US, content site) was hit with Panda 1.0. Between the initial hit and every single subsequent update dinging us down further, by May of this year we'd lost 60% of our traffic. In May I decided to bite the bullet and start noindexing pages. I had been hesitant to do it previously because I was trying to hold on to any bit of revenue I could. It was only a certain type of page on the site that was Pandalized so I started analyzing them to see which were getting traffic from Google (and for what terms). Anything that wasn't ranking well got noindexed. This ended up being about 2K pages (out of 3500).

Beginning with the June 2012 Panda updates we started seeing improvements (both June updates and July's). We've now recovered about 15% of our lost traffic. I haven't really made any other significant changes since May - while I don't have proof that noindexing is what brought about the small recovery, it seems like it must have been.

The remaining Pandalized pages on the site are in the process of being improved. They rank well enough that they get traffic but they don't rank where they did pre-Panda, so my goal is to improve them the best I can, then go back and improve the pages that have been noindexed. Once a noindexed page has been improved I will wait until it's been spidered with the changes (I am tracking that and will do testing to see what amount of time seems right) before removing the noindex tag.


 8:54 pm on Aug 6, 2012 (gmt 0)

Does this imply that in order to rank better for pages that Google hasn't devalued (or which are linked-to), you should noindex any pages that aren't ranking? Would that get a Panda penalty lifted?


 9:00 pm on Aug 6, 2012 (gmt 0)

Personally, I think if you have noindexed low quality pages that are 1 click away from an indexed page, the indexed page will still suffer on the basis that if google sends traffic to the indexed page, the visitor can easily find your low quality content.

Google is trying to keep its users from low quality content so personally I don't think noindexing will help much. I think you need to remove low quality content or improve it for a quick (within 3 months) recovery. That assumes any pages you improve are actually improved in the users eyes. If you remove low quality content it's gone, problem solved. Improving pages risks prolonging the pain in my view, although if a page is getting traffic it makes sense to try to rescue it.

Sgt_kickaxe, I think you should trim off those other pages if they're bringing no traffic and you're certain they are the low quality pages that are causing your problems. I would only keep them if you think they could become high quality pages, but the longer they remain on your site in a condition your users dislike, the longer the pain will go on (in my opinion).


 7:26 am on Aug 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

Personally, I think if you have noindexed low quality pages that are 1 click away from an indexed page, the indexed page will still suffer on the basis that if google sends traffic to the indexed page, the visitor can easily find your low quality content.

So no-indexing a page that gets no direct search traffic and that provides little if any link juice (i.e., a so-called "low quality" page) won't help you in the SERPs. You need to go further by removing your own internal site links to those pages or remove them (and 301 redirect to a related high-quality page, for good measure). Otherwise, Google will still know you have so-called "low-quality" content and demote your site accordingly.

Have I got that about right? If so, this is simply perverse. Information providers such as myself who wish to cover knowledge topics in depth do so at their peril. Just scratch the surface, or suffer the consequences!


 7:48 am on Aug 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

"a page that gets no direct search traffic and that provides little if any link juice (i.e., a so-called "low quality" page)"

nummum, I don't think anyone is saying that is the definition of low quality. Determining which pages are your low quality pages is the challenge, but I tend to agree that the way to go with the pages you're certain are the low quality ones giving you Panda problems is to remove them (not just remove links to them, get them off your server) or improve them but this is another challenge.


 10:58 am on Aug 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

I think you're all wrong, nothing to do with Panda or Penguin

Its being going on for more than2 years now

When you add an affiliate section to an info site, or vice versa, both suffer greatly, i wasn't sure till I noted that the really big sites in the sector I am interested in had enforced strict separation of both

To complicate things, it doesn't actually affect the top tier of well know branded sites, for obvious reasons

Document/webpage/website classification anyone ?

Just opinion , probably wrong, but it irks me to see folk labelling web pages inferior , when per the op, they were useful to visitors

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