John Mueller: What to Do About Old Low-Quality Content

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A new article on Search Engine Journal reports that Google's John Mueller just answered a question about what to do with old content that is of a very low quality.

Google's John Mueller was recently asked what to do about content that's older and low quality. Would it be better to remove the content? Or would it be better to rewrite the old bad quality content?

Mueller approached the question as if it were two questions. The first part of his answer focused on whether content is considered lower quality because it's old. The second part of his answer addressed the issue of what can be done for actual low-quality content.

A user's question centered around writing higher quality articles and whether he should then remove lower quality articles:

"Should I remove all articles? Is that going to affect my website, or I should keep that?"
Mueller said:

I think if that's something that you think is good content that you want to publish with your website, with your name, then I would keep it. Just because it's old doesn't mean it's bad. But if you look at it and you say, oh, this is embarrassing for me now, I don't want it to be online; it's like so bad. Then that's something where I'd say either improve it or remove it.
Some content just can't be improved, like content about topics that are out of date. Examples of the kinds of content that probably can't be rehabilitated are buying guides for products that are no longer manufactured, like pagers or old generation television sets. Other kinds of content can be improved. A common example is hundreds of city pages that were templated and are cookie-cutter, where the name of the city is replaced, and blocks of text are varied to create unique combinations of content using the same dozen blocks of content. Tactics like that are outdated and easy for search engines to catch.
#content #john #lowquality #mueller
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  • Profile picture of the author N1coleW
    So true, old content doesn't have to be bad at all, even if it's out of date. It really depends of the topic and how good it's written
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  • Profile picture of the author Jack Firneno
    " A common example is hundreds of city pages that were templated and are cookie-cutter, where the name of the city is replaced, and blocks of text are varied to create unique combinations of content using the same dozen blocks of content. Tactics like that are outdated and easy for search engines to catch."

    ^^^^ Does this include manually rewriting every page?

    We followed suit from an SEO agency our team hired for one of our clients. One big part of their campaign was to publish a series of similarly-worded city pages. When I've done it, I write each page individually. I'm sure the text is somewhat similar, but none are the same. Is that an up-to-date strategy?
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  • What we've been doing lately is to look at our old content and update the old information that there. A lot of the old content we created is still good. It just needed a bit of facelift and context to make it more application for our current clients.
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  • Profile picture of the author N1coleW
    Actually you can re-write your old content and transfer it to something new, it will be like a new life for your old content. But if it was low quality content you just can use the idea or the topic
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  • Profile picture of the author sanjanasingh
    You can update your old content and write it according to the latest marketing trends and information. Revising old content into something unique & interesting will help you to make it more attractive and informative to read.
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  • Profile picture of the author hittjw
    If your analytics is set up correctly you can rewrite any page that (a) has no traffic over a certain period of time, (b) has traffic but doesn't create a conversion, or (c) has a top bounce rate with external exit.

    Rewriting anything because it is old is resource intense. Start with your website goals, then drive into measures to remove the garage and improve what has the potential to increase goal achievement. If your analytics is not set up right, then fix that first.

    Most clients benefit from both minimum quality and editorial content guidelines. For example, "no more than three external links to credible sources" or "must include three internal links, two being lead generation options." All content sites get stale given enough time.

    After you fix broken links, worry about old content, remove stale code, and have your content management system up to date. A reason some pages don't get traffic is that they no longer have backlinks. Conversion may fail due to bad forms or embedded code.

    It's short-sighted to simply "fix old content" -- this is what people do when they have no real commerce happening on their site. Large publishers will have 20-year-old content on their site with a simple warning banner. They know which pages contribute to subscribers and revenue.

    Why rewrite when you can make it better fit for purpose, but do it with enough insights not to break what works. I migrated one of my own sites to another server, changed the content management platform, and template. It ruined the site without a rewrite.

    I use topic testing and a funnel structure to determine what needs to be rewritten. This same methodology is applied to YouTube videos, podcasts, and any periodic content. If it is not contributing to conversion in the first 120 days (general content) or doesn't have any traffic, then it gets a rewrite.

    The same optimization works on lifetime performance, however, I don't touch anything that has any level of conversion. Instead, my writers create new content to challenge the previous in a test. If you have a content website with more than 1,000 unique visitors daily, then direct message with questions you don't feel comfortable posting here.

    If you want to make money from your website, then it takes more than being old as a reason to rewrite content. Even old product references have value in some industries. And some content only needs a call out back to direct visitors to a more accurate source.
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  • Old content is gold. Good or bad, it helped build your presence.

    If the old content is still in line with what you're doing now, there's no reason to chuck it. I would rewrite and give it a better spin or have it match with the voice and personality that I'm exuding to the public now.
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  • Profile picture of the author hyperjerkseo
    Refresh old content with a new spin, adds some length, and maybe some new images.
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