There is a fun new Google Search Off the Record podcast to listen to with John Mueller and Gary Illyes from the Google Search team. The short is that quality impacts everything related to Google’s search systems, from sitemaps, crawling, indexing, ranking and more. But they also go into large and old sites that may have had quality issues in the past or the quality bar is higher now than what it was 20 years ago.
Here is the embed, I recommend you listen to it fully:
Gary Illyes said that quality “affects pretty much everything that the Search systems do.” He listed off sitemaps, scheduling, crawling, indexing and ranking at a higher level. And he said, “of course, different systems are affected differently” by quality but that is obvious.
One example is Google will crawl by priority, normally the highest quality first. John then shared something he looked about 20 years ago, prior to him joining Google. He said, “Back before I joined Google, I would create test sites to try things out.” ” I made one site where I added, I don’t know, a couple hundred links to new pages on there. And when Google, Googlebot, Google whatever, all of these Google systems back then, it was one big thing, or at least to me, when Google discovered all of these links, it crawled them in alphabetical order.” Google does not crawl like that anymore, not by alphabetical order. Or maybe they never did but that is what John noticed ages ago.
Also, Google can learn which sections of your site are lower quality than others – sometimes. “And of course, we can also apply this on, like you have UGC, User Generated Content, but let’s say that you have User Generated Content on your site and it’s restricted to one particular pattern like /ugc/john and /gary and /whatever. Then eventually, we might learn that the vast majority of the content there is not the highest of quality, and then we might crawl less from there,” he said.
So far everything we said is not really new, we covered all of these in the past.
But I personally found the part about old sites that have a ton of legacy old content that might not be written with the same level of quality that is published today. Gary spoke about this site, referencing some of the older content might be lower quality than the newer content. That is true, some of my earlier posts the first few years were super short (and you thought my content now is short) and often even hard to understand. I was blogging, learning to write, as I go.
Gary said, ” I think the hardest part is trying to figure out what is lower quality, especially if you have a massive site, or a site that’s been around for thousands of years like webmasterworld.com, or… what’s Barry’s site? Barry Schwartz’s site? searchengineroundtable.com. If you have one of those sites, then it’s very hard to go back and tried to figure out what are the pages that we might consider lower quality, even if we have documentation about what we consider quality content.”
Gary said for those sites, “it doesn’t actually matter that much anymore, because they are so established that they get direct visitors anyway, and people are looking for these sites anyway, regardless of what we are doing. They are linking to these sites a lot, so we see that people actually look for these sites.”
“Like for example, when you go to, I don’t know, randomsite.com, you see a blog post about SEO, and then that blog post is linking out to Search Engine Roundtable, for example, that’s a good hint for us that that target’s site, Search Engine Roundtable, might be important. And the more links you see from normal sites, not profile pages and random gibberish sites like johnwoo.com. These links that people litter on the Internet on normal places, not weird places, they can actually be very helpful estimating how important something is for getting in the index. And so, for these sites like WebmasterWorld or Search Engine Roundtable, it doesn’t really matter anymore that in the past, they might have had some lower quality content, UGC or not, because people are linking to these sites. You don’t even have to tell people like that, “Oh, please sir, give me one more link!.” he added.
In short, he seems to be saying the links pointing to these sites and the ongoing new links these sites acquire, may make up for some of the lower quality stuff on the site over the years?
What do you think? Please listen to it.
Forum discussion at Twitter.