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Google’s John Muller Explains The Right Way Of Removing Content For SEO

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John Muller reveals effective ways of removing pages for SEO.

In a recent Google Webmaster Hangout, senior trends analyst, John Muller, answered some queries related to the most common mistakes made by online publishers while removing content for SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). Here are the detailed questions with answers for your reference:

Question: 

Can it help SEO by reducing web pages by marking our product pages noindex, which have almost zero impressions in the last 16 months. Currently 10 to 15% pages are like this and they’re just dead weight on our site. I was wondering that after noindexing such pages we will submit fewer pages to Google in the sitemap and Google could focus on the rest of our site better.”

Muller:  

“It’s something that I know some sites do. I think it is not a totally unreasonable approach to say that the pages that nobody cares about I essentially removed from my website. But it’s something where I wouldn’t just blindly do this. 

So if you’re just blindly focusing on the number of impressions that you have for individual products and you drop them from search then it’s very easy to drop things that are actually useful but they’re just not that common.”

Analyze Why The Page Not Performing

Muller:

“It might be that maybe it’s an archived version of a product or page where people after a certain period of time they need to go back there to find instructions for repairing this product or they want to look up historical information about this item. And that’s not something that happens every day. 

 

So if you just purely look at the number of impressions and it’s easy to accidentally include a lot of things that are actually still useful for the web, they’re just not that commonly used. On the other hand looking at the number of impressions and the types of pages that you have on your website, that can give you a little bit of a better understanding of which types of pages are more important for users. 

 

And that can either guide you to saying, well this type of page is something that maybe I don’t want to provide anymore or perhaps it can guide you into saying, well this type of page is currently not seen as being that useful.”

Can the Page Be Improved For Better Rankings?

Muller:

“For informational content it might be useful to see if new techniques, technology, or jargon has changed. Not all informational content is evergreen. If it can be improved then that’s definitely a good thing to consider doing. Maybe if I significantly improved it, it would be different. 

And that’s also something where you don’t just go and… blindly look at the number of impressions but rather you have to make a judgment call and look at that and see does it make sense to.. remove this? Does it make sense to improve it? And a lot of times it does make sense to improve things on the web.”

Fewer Pages Does Not Mean You will Rank Higher.

Muller:

With regards to just having fewer pages and those fewer pages then ranking higher, I don’t see that happening so much. It can help for a very large website to reduce the number of pages that they provide just purely from a technical point of view and that if we can crawl 1/10th of the pages on a website and it’s a lot easier for us to pick up those 1/10th of those pages a lot faster.

That can in turn help us to figure out well maybe these are the pages that are really important for the website. But if you’re just dropping a handful of pages here and there, I don’t think it changes anything for crawling and probably not much for the website in search overall.”

Outtakes From The Q&A Session: 

According to John Muller, these are the right ways of removing content for SEO:

  • Removing content is a traditional solution for traffic issues and does not solve all SEO related issues.  
  • Removing pages that do not help the website rank higher on the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages).
  • Instead of removing poor performing or similar content webpages, publishers should update those pages with unique ideas that serve their intent. 

Here is the Webmaster Hangout session video for your reference:

 

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