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Would You Improve Well Ranked Pages in Google?

 7:22 am on Nov 13, 2012 (gmt 0)

I have this project that I am still hesitating whether should we kick it off or not.
There are 300 pages on the site that long time need a good editing English proof reading, adding more information, headings change, and design/layout improvement.
However, ~ 50% are ranked very high on Google and Bing.
The 300 pages see 150k visits a month, while the total traffic potential is ~ 600k. 50%, 150 of these pages, see 125k visits and the rest see 25k (but these have a traffic potential of ~100k)
Above all, many of these pages where copied/scrapped thousands of times in one way or another all around the web. Making some modification could confuse Google algo so it misses the originality.

So, the question is would anyone, after Panda, takes the risk of making improvement and lose/gain ranking.
Note, its like catch 22, as my friend said to me earlier: would be funny if Google has now decided that web pages should be static, never changing so they can keep track. What a useful Internet they are engineering.



 4:56 am on Nov 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

I have some of the same misgivings these days about changing well-ranking pages. Some sites report no problems but others do. My sense is that if a site has a strong set of authority and trust signals, they can make changes more easily and without introducing ranking problems.

The kinds of changes you are describing do not sound very challenging. Many of them might not actually trigger a "changed content" flag at all, if the essential semantic meaning of the content is not changed but only its aesthetic nature in grammar and readability.

If you have concerns about the current level of trust Google shows toward this site, I might not start with widespread changes but rather with some low level experimental work. If you see this is well received, you can roll out more changes. But if it causes major amounts of lost traffic, I'd rethink the approach before going at it any deeper.

It does sounds like you are interested in helping your readers and that should be a good thing in the long run. If you get lots of repeat traffic rather than depending solely on new visits through search, then you may be able to weather some small shifts in Google traffic and result in a long time real gain. It certainly sounds like that is what you should expect.

I'm remembering that the Panda algorithm also can boost a page's ranking. The kind of changes you are suggesting might even help your site improve when Panda runs a data refresh.


 5:28 am on Nov 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

Thank you Tedster,
You're describing exactly how we are going to work.
The all work is meant for giving the readers the best user experience and therefore it will flow like this -
(1) Start working on the 100 with low organic traffic (and low traffic potential).
(2) Monitoring the results in terms of traffic and performance. ~ 1 month
(3) Lesson learned.
(4) Deciding whether to continue and how deep the changes should be.


 8:00 am on Nov 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

Our official internal policy is "ABSOLUTELY NOT" unless they drop or are ones which we have been updating daily-weekly for years. Stay under the radar and don't mess with a good thing.


 11:23 pm on Nov 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

One thing I did a couple of times was to write a fresh page and link from the ranking one with something like "an updated version of this article is available here". The new page never outranked the old one despite being better but at least it gave users a more accurate option.

FYI I "tweaked" some text on the original pages simply to ensure the info wasn't so out-of-date it was useless. Had no effect on ranking. I've since become a little bolder and changed ranking content but never more than a paragraph or so at one time (yet!).

Robert Charlton

 7:37 am on Nov 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

Making some modification could confuse Google algo so it misses the originality.

To some degree, there has always been a question in this regard, and I'm not sure that Panda really changes anything, except that, with Panda, you might have more motivation to improve your pages.

The basic issue, of whether changing a page would cause its originality to be questioned, has been around since the beginning of scrapers. If the changes evolve from previous versions, are made in a human time frame, and they improve the page, then, in my experience, they're not likely to give you problems. That said, I share some of tedster's hesitations about changing a well-ranking page.

I would not repeatedly revise a page in any event, particularly not in reaction to ranking changes. With regard to that, study this thread if you haven't already...

Google's Rank Modifying Patent for Spam Detection
http://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4486158.htm [webmasterworld.com]

If you're not making spammy changes, this particular patent shouldn't be a concern, but I do think that constant fiddling with a page can make Google think you're trying to manipulate results.

Panda probably helps, as I think it's easier for a human writer to judge whether a page is genuinely useful than it is for a writer to tell whether the page is, say, over-optimized. It's not likely that you can make a page too useful.


 7:15 am on Nov 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

Thanks @Simsi and @MikeNoLastName
Simsi, the changes are not so extensive to create a new page for each existing page.
MikeNoLastName, my sites are always on the radar whatever we do or don't do. The competition on this particular site's topics is tough. Yes, changes are risky and it will be done with great cautious.

I made many self researches on my websites to learn whether Google takes page performance as a factor to decide ranking (p/v, BR, exit, ToS) , but never seen constant results.
Maybe they're still working on it, or they don't have reliable sources, I don't know.
At least, it's logical for them to put these factors at front when considering page quality.
The site contains many pages. These 300 are just a portion of its total and their metrics are the worse.
Now, the planned changes are meant to give readers the best experience, never to manipulate ranking.
There's no doubt that the pages are going to be improved, however in the past when improving pages (not these but others) results were mixed.

I share some of tedster's hesitations about changing a well-ranking page.

I do too, and that's why we'll never touch the top ranked ones before seeing how it works on the lowest ranked.
If ranking is not changed, I am fine and can live with that :-)

I would not repeatedly revise a page in any event, particularly not in reaction to ranking changes.

As far as I can recall, G has never changed their ranking. Must check again to be sure.


These particular pages are not optimized at all and wouldn't be.

I do think that constant fiddling with a page can make Google think you're trying to manipulate results.

The pages haven't been touched since they were published.

I hope Google is not so sensitive to trigger 'red alarms' for changes, but 'green lights' to recheck page performance.
The web should not be static. Things are changing and getting better.


 10:01 am on Nov 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

> would be funny if Google has now decided that web pages should be static, never changing so they can keep track. What a useful Internet they are engineering. <
>I do think that constant fiddling with a page can make Google think you're trying to manipulate results. <

Not so funny. Unfortunately I have started suspecting the exact same thing just this week. If Google is really thinking in this manner they need their brains sucked out and examined under a microscope... I volunteer to do the honors! Every newspaper and news magazine website homepage out there would be at the bottom of ALL the SERPs (and come to think of it... many are, hmm..) . What about stock, sports or weather reporting sites?

Perhaps not bad from a search engine point of view where they like to keep track of all their very static (and very likely outdated) reference info in little compartmentalized boxes, but from a dynamic news business point of view, you want people to come to your WELL-KNOWN and bookmarked home page and be able to instantly see the latest feature articles and click to as many of them as possible.

What business is it of G*'s that you are a daily, weekly or monthly periodical and your primary pages (where everyone has bookmarked and knows to go) change frequently.

Based on some recent experiments, and real experiences, I'm strongly beginning to believe that if someone copies your page, and then you make small updates to it (something in the real world changed the reported information) you can now become the copier because you now have substantially the same content that they copied from you, only dated newer (ALBEIT MORE ACCURATE) than them, and wind up getting penalized as a duplicate of your own content.

I think G* is trying to guess and generalize WAY too much and is missing the target far more than they are hitting it.
But then, they have admitted they are trying to become more of a REFERENCE ENGINE of the past than a search engine of reality.


 11:39 am on Jan 24, 2013 (gmt 0)

Just wanted to update that the project of updating and improving these pages has completed.

Since the beginning of the work and during the changes, the site is seeing constant traffic increase from Google.
These last days, it is about 6000 more visitors per day.
We took a decision that even if G penalize the site, we will stick with the changes (It didn't make sense to stay with bad pages).
We will continue to improve other sections of the site.


 12:39 pm on Jan 24, 2013 (gmt 0)

Thanks for that update Zivush after 2 months. It's great to see how ideas work out in the medium to long term.

I updated, and still am, many of my pages to css driven, new layout but generally the same content. They also now have mobile designed equivalents. It seems to have worked out well over the last six months or so with no ill effects and some positive ones.


 1:34 pm on Jan 24, 2013 (gmt 0)

on the topic of well ranked pages, what to you say to clients that have for example #3 position for their top keyword phrase but complain they want to be #1 (which they have been for a while until they dropped to #2-3) i mean you cant guarantee them a #1 position.
any opinions or experiences?


 7:51 pm on Jan 24, 2013 (gmt 0)

I ask them why they think they deserve it.



 9:24 pm on Jan 24, 2013 (gmt 0)

My strategy is to update the pages and I rank better. But I do not modify the page: I add text at the bottom (or in the middle). If I have to create a page that describe a category where there are 10 products, then I start creating the page describing only 5 products. After one month I add some text at the bottom that describes the 6th product, after another month the 7th products and so on .... and I get benefits.


 8:20 am on Jan 29, 2013 (gmt 0)

Another update - 10k more visits per day and it continues to climb every day.
Even Bing traffic improved but not on the same percentage level and scale.


 3:20 pm on Jan 29, 2013 (gmt 0)

Thanks for the update Zivush.
Just wondering, did you update all of the pages?


 4:54 pm on Jan 29, 2013 (gmt 0)

Yes. All the 300 pages. It's roughly 1/4 of the sites' pages.
The update was very deep.
It consisted of editing, fixing grammar mistakes, adding paragraphs and changing the inner design of the pages.


 6:51 am on Jan 30, 2013 (gmt 0)

Thanks for the confirmation.

I've previously created a thread in this forum asking if it made sense to update the most popular or oldest pages first on a pandalized site. Didn't really get an answer for it but from what I noticed, updating the most popular ones does give a bit of traffic boost while updating the old pages that gets very little traffic, (maybe 0-10 hits per month), does not improve the traffic at all.

6 months went by and the traffic for the old unpopular post that we've rewritten completely is still pathetic.


 6:50 pm on Feb 6, 2013 (gmt 0)

It is not for the sake of rewriting but for the sake of improving.
We are now heading to the next project which consists of 150 pages. Some of them ranked very high with almost 3k visits per month. Total of 100k visits for the all 150 pages and a potential of ~500k.

This time, the writer is top professional on the subject matter and she is free to delete entire paragraphs, change and edit.
It might be against any SEO rule, but I don't see any other option if I want to beat the competition.


 10:07 pm on Feb 6, 2013 (gmt 0)

Personally i would leave well alone, I just made some very simple changes to a page to make it more pictorial and just dropped traffic by 40% at least, prior the site had no drops via panda or such,

Saying that as you say the changes are just contextual so hopefully you will not have an issue, as mentioned above start on some inner less important pages and see how you get on,

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