Underperforming Content: Are You to Blame?

Content marketing helps improve online visibility. However, it is not uncommon for a lot of effort to yield little or no result. Sometimes, the positive impact is significantly delayed. In worst case scenarios, traffic and rankings decline.

The common explanations are often inadequate.

You need to produce more quality content.

Your site must be suffering from an algorithmic penalty.

Such remarks are frustrating because they don’t provide any insight about what is actually happening or how to solve such issues.

Let’s go beyond the obvious and assume your content is original, well-written and relevant. Are you to blame for your underperforming content?

Little Known Facts About Google Algorithms, Indexing & Ranking

If you don’t understand what is happening under the hood, there is a high probability you will misinterpret the situation and make wrong assumptions.

Google has published dozens of videos containing valuable bits of information such as:

  • Many algorithms need to recrawl a page in order to produce new metrics about that page.
  • Crawling or recrawling of a page can take anywhere from minutes to several months.
  • Ranking an indexed page can take anywhere from minutes to several months.
  • Some algorithms run when a page is parsed, some run daily, some weekly, some monthly (or more) and some are performed manually from time to time.
  • Several algorithms rely on the results produced by other algorithms.

There is a cascading effect between many of Google’s algorithms. This can explain why the impact of new, good content can be severely delayed – especially when an influential algorithm located at the end of the chain has decided the content of your website should not rank.

Remember that the disavow algorithm is notoriously slow. Although submitted links are processed continuously, a refresh has to be triggered manually by Google to take these into account. This is tricky because when a website is penalized by the Penguin algorithm, good content always has to wait until it is lifted before it can bubble up.

Here are more confirmed facts:

  • The more Google trusts a website, the more frequently it will crawl it.
  • New content on a quality site gets a boost.
  • New content on a low quality site is treated cautiously.
  • Content size does not matter; only relevancy matters.
  • Authorship is not used as a ranking factor.
  • Schema.org is not used as a ranking factor.
  • Google does not use social signals as a ranking factor.
  • Brands are not proxies for content relevance when ranking.

The Panda algorithm has a strong influence on ranking. For new websites, no quality signals are available. Panda (and other algorithms) make early estimations to assess the quality of these websites and adjust these metrics as time goes on. Therefore, when launching a website, focus on quality (not quantity, length, etc.) to make a better first impression.

Keep in mind that rehashed, copied and unoriginal content will drag other posts and articles down because of Panda. These can significantly delay good content from bubbling up in rankings. If you’re concerned about a republished or reworked article getting pegged as duplicate content, study up on canonicalization.

Also, be aware that breaking into a competitive niche is like trying to break in an existing market. It requires a lot of effort and you may already be too late to join the game. John Mueller has explicitly said good content is not enough; it has to be confirmed by users, and this is performed through backlinks.

So, before doubting the quality of your own work, make sure you have fixed quality issues on your website, and be patient before drawing any conclusions. Do remove or NOINDEX low quality content to help your quality content rise to the top.

If you can’t wait, there are two good ways to accelerate the crawling of new (or modified) content: feeds and resubmitting sitemaps with the most recent “last modified” date for each URL. It works if you don’t abuse it.

Yes, you have to produce quality content to have an effective digital footprint in today’s overcrowded information superhighway. But if you aren’t seeing the results you want, your writing and design skills may not be 100 percent to blame. Be patient, keep creating great content, and make sure you’re always up-to-date on the latest news from Google’s engineers to ensure your site is as healthy as it can possibly be.

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