For past few years, we have heard Google suggest that it is better to improve content and not remove content that is low quality. We also heard Google say removing content also works improve overall site quality. Which is it? The answer is that it is a debate and what is feasibly practical for the webmaster.
In a Google hangout from the other day, John Mueller of Google explained that while he believes and has seen case studies that removing content helps a site rank better in Google that the engineers at Google tell him and his team to tell webmasters to not remove the content but rather improve it. But John said, sometimes it is not practical for a webmaster to improve content and removing the content is a more practical strategy.
At the 1 hour 2 minute mark John said:
It should, it should. I mean especially if this is content that you don’t want to have index because you know it’s low quality. Then removing that does help us to understand the rest of the site better. And it’s something that I suspect is not just theoretical. Like I’ve seen various presentations at conferences where people are saying I removed I, don’t know, one third of my site and the rest of my site is ranking a lot better because of that. So that’s something that’s certainly an option.
In talking with the indexing and ranking teams, usually they say we shouldn’t be telling people to just remove low quality content but rather to improve it. From a practical point of view, of course like depending on the site, the kind of content you have, sometimes you can improve it, sometimes it’s just low-quality cruft that you’ve collected over the years that doesn’t really make sense to improve on a kind of point by point basis.
Here is the video embed:
Here is our previous coverage of this topic, and now it is clear why we heard so many mixed messages around handling low quality content. I suspect if you can improve the content, do that, otherwise burn it to the ground!
Forum discussion at Google+.