How Googles Knows Good Content from Bad - Banner

SEO Content Quality (Good Content vs Bad Content)

November 27, 2019   |  
Posted by
Mordy Oberstein

How does Google differentiate between good and dangerous content material? It’s a primary query, but it is a query that conjures up explanations that belong in 2010, not within the period of machine studying and deeper contextual understanding. So no, Google is just not merely including up all of the backlinks a web site has and deeming it high quality content material as soon as a sure amount of hyperlinks has been accrued. Rather, all issues thought of, Google is doing an excellent job profiling content material. That is, Google is kind of adept and realizing what good content material seems and appears like and what dangerous content material seems and appears like inside a selected vertical. 

Here’s how they do it! 

How Googles Knows Good Content from Bad - Banner

How Google Knows Good Content From Bad Content 

There are all types of theories on the market about how Google is aware of when it is taking a look at good content material versus dangerous content material. What these theories so usually neglect is the best useful resource out there to Google. That, in fact, is the quantity of content material at its disposal. Think about it for a second. Within any vertical, for any matter you possibly can think about, Google has an overabundance of content material samples at its fingertips. Samples that it might use to get a way of what good content material seems and appears like and what dangerous content material seems and appears like.

All Google would want is a baseline of types. A set of content material inside a selected vertical or for a selected matter that’s identified to be of fantastic high quality. With that, would not it’s attainable to match any piece of content material on a selected matter to that baseline? Surely, for probably the most half, such a comparability can be indicator if a given piece of high quality passes muster? I imply, if solely Google had a manner of doing this at scale?! 

I’m, in fact, being a bit facetious. Google certainly does have a strategy to train this means at scale. In truth, what I’ve described above is a crude define of how machine studying works and as we effectively know Google loves machine studying.

So in clear and easy phrases:

How does Google know good content material from dangerous? It takes extremely authoritative content material from extremely authoritative websites from particular verticals and trains its machine studying properties to know what good content material seems and appears like for a given matter. That is, Google through machine studying compares its baseline, i.e., content material it is aware of to be of high quality, to content material from throughout the net with a view to decide what’s high quality and what’s not. 

You might argue that is speculatory. To this I say two issues: 

1) Occam’s Razor. We know Google makes use of machine studying to know issues from entities to intent. We know that it has the flexibility to match and to qualify on a deep degree. All I’m suggesting is that Google is doing this on the content material degree itself. It’s not an enormous leap in any respect. 

2) I’m main you on a bit (for the sake of creating certain you’ve gotten a foundational understanding that you should use to increase your SEO data – so do not be mad). John Mueller of Google was asked about this very topic. Here’s what John needed to say:


“I don’t know. I probably would have to think about that a bit to see what would work well for me. I mean it is something where if you have an overview of the whole web or kind of a large part of the web and you see which type of content is reasonable for which types of content then that is something where you could potentially infer from that. Like for this particular topic, we need to cover these subtopics, we need to add this information, we need to add these images or fewer images on a page. That is something that perhaps you can look at something like that. I am sure our algorithms are quite a bit more complicated than that.” 

That just about sums it up. Don’t be distracted the place he says, “We need to add these images or fewer images on a page.” That is actually true. Imagine a recipe web site, a scarcity of photos or perhaps a video would undoubtedly be a purple flag for the search engine. However, to me, crucial a part of that assertion is “… if you have an overview of the whole web… Like for this particular topic, we need to cover these subtopics.” He’s telling you Google has sense of how a subject ought to be lined and if it isn’t lined appropriately. 

The downside is, I might discuss this till I’m blue within the face. It’s very ethereal. The idea might imply so many issues. Thus, what I’d actually love to do now that we’ve a conceptual understanding is to check out what profiling content material might seem like. 

==> Find out how content material advertising and SEO work collectively

A Hands-On Look at What Google’s Content Profiling Looks Like 


I’m an enormous believer in visible schooling. Seeing is believing, an image is value a thousand phrases… that form of factor. If we’ll take this idea of how Google profiles content material and apply it virtually, I believe we have to type a extra concretized notion of what Google sees among the many vastness of its content material library. That is, what is apparent and clear to the search engine? What is presumably being picked up on and internalized by the search engine? Simply, what does content material profiling seem like in order that we will make sure that our content material is sound?

Before I get going. You have to know, I have no idea what parameters Google has arrange inside its machine studying assemble. All I can supply is a crude take a look at what’s most evident and unavoidable when profiling content material. Still, from this, you shouldn’t solely be capable of extra concretely perceive what Google is doing however be capable of stroll away with a little bit of a plan as to how one can higher strategy content material creation.   

Let’s get began, lets? 

A Content Profiling Case Study

To get began I’m going to match varied well being websites… as a result of all the things authority lately pertains to Your Money Your Life (YMYL) websites with the well being sector sitting on the epicenter of this. Also, well being content material has its identified authorities (i.e., WebMD and the like) which makes seeing the distinction between high quality content material and poor content material a bit simpler. 

Let’s begin off with a key phrase, see how a number of the extra authoritative websites deal with the subject, how a number of the worst-performing websites deal with the subject, in addition to a number of the content material that falls between the 2 extremes. 

To catch a glimpse of how a web site treats/pertains to a subject I utilized Google’s “Site” operator to see what content material is probably the most related on the positioning for the key phrase most cancers and food plan. When I began evaluating the titles of the content material I used to be proven for these websites which might be authority superpowers versus these websites identified to be problematic a transparent distinction grew to become evident. 

Before the rest, here’s what the SERP for the key phrase most cancers and food plan introduced up: 

Diet & Cancer SERP

OK, now let me present you the distinction in content material that I noticed. 

Contrasting High Quality & Poor Quality Content  


It solely is smart to begin with what good content material seems like. For this, I’m going to make use of as they not solely are one of the well-ranked websites however they actually rank for this very question (albeit in the direction of the underside of web page one). In both case, nobody would name the positioning’s authority into query so they’re place for us to begin: Topic Titles

A fast take a look at the tone and total assemble of the positioning’s content material factors to using direct and undramatic language. The titles are with none emotionally coercive wording, there may be nothing sensational inside them, and they’re fully of a highly-informational tone. 

Let’s take a look at one other authority that ranks on the SERP for this question, most For the report, most is the positioning for the National Cancer Institute (US), is part of the NIH, and as ought to be clear is an official a part of the United States authorities. In our phrases, most is an excellent, tremendous, super-authority and right here is how they deal with the subject of most cancers and food plan of their titles: Topic Titles

The titles right here vary from analysis on the subject to how one can go about your food plan throughout most cancers therapy. Again, easy informational titles freed from click-baity form of phrasing or something that even hints at inflicting an emotional response on the a part of the reader. 

Now let’s transfer on to these websites that Google doesn’t belief. First up is who initially fell beneath my radar when the Medic Update demolished their rankings. Subsequent core updates have additionally drastically damage the positioning. Simply, it is a web site that has a belief downside vis-a-vis the search engine. A take a look at the titles that seem for the key phrase most cancers and food plan might assist clarify why: Content Titles

Think again to WebMD and the National Cancer Institute, there have been no “top 5 cancer-killing foods.” Those websites most well-liked direct, to the purpose, information-driven titles. Not so right here. The titles right here, by means of their “numbers,” sound extra like a advertising article would possibly sound (akin to 10 Ways to Build Your Link Profile… sound acquainted?). To put this bluntly, I’m unsure I’m snug with the concept of counting on an article to show me how one can eat whereas present process most cancers therapy when it appears like one other article crammed with typical fluff. I’m fairly certain you are not both and I’m undoubtedly certain Google is just not as effectively. 

There’s clearly one thing apart from the providing of pure data occurring with these titles and their format clearly differs from how our super-authorities approached issues.

To intensify the distinction between high quality and crap inside this vertical let’s transfer on to a web site well-known for its poor SERP efficiency. has been infamous for fairing fairly poorly with the core updates. In truth, the title tag the great physician makes use of for his residence web page takes a direct shot at Google’s algorithmic displeasure together with his web site: 

Mercola Homepage Title Tag

While I don’t wish to get into the fact of Mercola’s reliability in it of itself (I’m not a physician, what do I do know?), it’s clear that Google is just not “happy” with what it has discovered on the positioning. Which means that is the good web site to have a look at for our functions. 

Without for adieu, this is what the ‘web site operation’ gave me for the positioning utilizing the key phrase most cancers and food plan Topic Titles

Before continuing, I implore you to look again on the outcomes produced for WebMD and the National Cancer Institute as a result of the distinction is stark. The title of the primary “Mercola” end result tells all of it. As against being of a extra critical and informational tone, we’re handled to a linguistic gimmick paying homage to an essay for Eighth-grade science class. “Cancer’s Sweet Tooth,” other than not telling me a lot, does not scream authority and security to me, and clearly it does not to Google both. In reality, the second instance is just not significantly better with its use of the ever-cliche “Everything You Need to Know” – once more, this might be the title of most articles discovered on a digital advertising web site. Not to beat a lifeless horse, however the third result’s equally horrific, “The Man Who Questions Chemotherapy” hardly appears like an sincere take of chemotherapy’s shortcomings and rings extra like an unnuanced rant. 

Despite the urge to maintain berating the title selections of this web site, there is no must maintain going with this. The distinction between a web site like WebMD and is about as self-evident of a reality as you are going to discover.  

If we will discover clear and apparent disparities between an authoritative tackle a well being matter versus an unreliable tackle the subject, certainly Google with entry to a large pattern of content material and machine studying properties can achieve this and it does. That mentioned, the hole between the great and the dangerous (and, in fact, the ugly) is just not at all times readily clear. 

To see this we’ve to look no additional than the Featured Snippet introduced to us on the SERP for most cancers & food plan

Diet & Cancer Featured Snippet

The URL used for the zero-position field does not come from WebMD or the National Cancer Institute, however from which has had its share of ups and downs on the SERP. 

Healthline Visibility

The total visibility of has been topic to volatility that features varied rating peaks and valleys 

Subjecting the positioning to the identical “title analysis” as WebMD et al provides up a little bit of a combined bag: Topic Titles

While there are extra easy and informational titles akin to “Breast Cancer Diet: Foods to Eat, Foods to Avoid, and More” you even have your fluff with titles like “12 Beneficial Fruits to Eat During and After Cancer Treatment.”

It simply goes to point out you ways complicated, how nuanced, and the way murky profiling a web site’s content material will be. It’s not all “WebMDs” and “Mercolas” – there are plenty of “in-betweens” at play… websites that aren’t tremendous authoritative of their content material format however on the similar time aren’t excessive both. In different phrases, it is sophisticated, which is why you want a sophisticated machine studying algorithm to profile content material in earnest. Beyond that, there’s extra to what makes a web site rank than the above profiling course of (so please do not accuse me of claiming that your content material profile is the only real determinant of your rankings). All types of things make their manner into the rating equation that places a web site like above 

You, Your Site, and Your Content Profile: How to Take Action 


So we’ve a pleasant understanding of how Google can profile content material inside a vertical to find out its authoritativeness… how does that assist me? Well, having a foundational understanding of what Google can and might’t do and why it does what it does is intrinsically useful from the place I sit. That mentioned, I do know the secret. If I do not supply some actionable takeaways “I’ll get put in the back on the discount rack like another can of beans” to cite Billy Joel.

That mentioned, it ought to be apparent what you have to be doing. You ought to be looking on the tone/format of your content material relative to the tone/format of the content material rating on the high of the SERP. Are you utilizing language that is a bit too excessive or “markety” whereas a lot of the larger rating websites go full-on informational? 

How do the top-ranking websites strategy content material for the subject at hand and the way does that evaluate to your tackle the subject? Because, clearly, no matter these websites are doing from a content material perspective is working. I’m not advocating something novel right here… besides that you need to go away “keywords” and phrasing per se on the again burner for a second and take a extra inclusive and qualitative take a look at the top-ranking content material on the SERP. This, in fact, is just not as concrete of a course of and is much extra summary of a assemble on the similar time. That mentioned, analyzing the “flavor” of the content material Google prefers goes past one web page or one piece of content material as a substitute of providing an strategy to the vertical total! 

A Bird’s-Eye View on Content 

NYC Bird's-Eye View

Knowing how Google goes about its quest for a greater and extra authoritative SERP places you at an actual benefit. Most of us nonetheless take into consideration “SEO content” at a really granular degree. However, as time has gone on Google repeatedly has proven it prefers to take a step again and work in the direction of a basal understanding of content material and so forth. At the danger of repeating what I’ve mentioned in different weblog posts and episodes of my podcast, the extra summary you get in approaching your web site and its content material the extra aligned you might be to how Google itself approaches the net. The extra aligned you might be to Google the extra seemingly you might be to rank effectively on the SERP. 

Simply, it pays to get a bit extra summary in your content material evaluation and content material creation practices. Profiling your content material strategy to what already works on the SERP is a good (and straightforward) place to begin!

Now that you just perceive the distinction between good high quality and dangerous high quality content material, try our information on how one can repurpose previous weblog content material   


About The Author

Mordy Oberstein

Mordy is the official liaison to the SEO group for Wix. Despite his quite a few and far-reaching duties, Mordy nonetheless considers himself an SEO educator initially. That’s why you’ll discover him frequently releasing all types of unique SEO analysis and evaluation!

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