Different ways to remove Low-Quality SEO content


One of the most common challenges during an SEO content audit is dealing with low-quality content. By addressing and implementing the appropriate actions, one can likely yield positive results. However, the ways to handle low-quality content can vary, so how can you identify such content?

What is low-quality SEO content?

Determining low-quality content is not a one-size-fits-all process. It is situational and highly dependent on various factors. From an SEO perspective, any content lacking a data-driven reason for its existence might be considered low quality. However, as SEO is a part of the business (not the other way around), there might be business, regulatory, or compliance-related reasons for a particular content piece’s existence, which is perfectly acceptable.

Before you take any action on the content, it is important to have sufficient data available. Don’t trust third-party SEO tools. Focus on your own data that you have gathered.

The very common strategy for handling low-quality content is to delete it and redirect it, but this is not always the best possible solution. If you redirect content that has no relevance to the target page, it might cause more harm than good. I’m going to present different scenarios with the different solutions. This is not an exhaustive list, but it gives an idea of what you can do.

Outdated content

This type of content contains information that is either expired or simply old. Examples might include an article about the “best places to travel during a pandemic” or “New online casinos 2022.” Handling this type of content is straightforward, assuming that the year “2022” is not included in the URL.

Solution for outdated SEO content

If the content is something like “New online casinos 2022,” consider updating it. Review the top-ranking pages for similar topics; are there new trends or updates you should include in your article? Identify critical information that could add value for your readers. To do this, consume the top-ranking content and identify the gaps you could fill. Analyze your Google Search Console data to see if there are topics you need to add to your article. Don’t hesitate to rewrite the entire page if necessary. Once the updated version is published, consider building a few links to the relaunched content piece.

Merely adding more words for the sake of length or just changing the year to 2023 probably won’t benefit your content.

If a topic has become completely outdated, consider deleting the content and redirecting the URL to a page with similar, but more current, information.

Expired content

This is the type of content that has completely gone out of fashion and is not relevant anymore. This type of content should be taken behind the barn.

Solution for expired content

  • Redirect to the home page
  • Redirect to a page that is similar to the content
  • Delete and accept the 404
  • Or “launder relevancy” (I will explain this concept later in the article.)

Dead-weight content

This is the type of content that has zero traffic and is not getting any data in Google Search Console. The content might be targeting terms that have no search volume. Essentially this type of content does not serve any SEO purpose. If the content has no reason to exist, it should not exist in the first place.

Solution for Dead-weight content

If you have determined that the content has no value or it doesn’t have any kind of search demand, you should consider deleting and redirecting the content. Zero value content will impact negatively on your rankings and you should remove it. The focus should be on the content that has the potential to rank and generate traffic.

Duplicate content

Duplicate content is a piece of content that matches with other content pieces across the domain. The content might match the content or it might be noticeably similar. The duplicate content has a negative impact on the rankings. There are a few different options for addressing duplicate content.

Solutions for duplicate content

  • Usual strategy is to merge and redirect. This means that you can combine the content from the two competing pages, and the URL that is weaker gets redirected to the main URL.
  • You can also use canonical tags to tell Google that these two pieces of content belong together.

Ok, those are the basic answers that you hear from every single SEO expert. But what if canonical tags or merging and redirecting are not an option?

De-optimize the content

I had a client who had built his business by writing tons of content on his website. The content had a lot of emotional value for the business owner, and he didn’t want to remove the content.

Because the site had a lot of content, there was a major overlap with the content. A lot of articles were competing for the same terms. Since merging and redirecting were not options, I opted to de-optimize the content. I changed the terms in the H1, removed the keyword from the content, and changed the wording as best as I could.

This is not an ideal solution, as there’s going to be dead-weight content, but at least it helped with keyword cannibalization.

Laundering relevancy (Bonus strategy )

I can’t take credit for this strategy. I highly recommend reading the original post.

But in short, if you have expired content, but you do not have similar content where you could redirect it, try this method:

  • Optimize the expired content for the topic you would like to redirect it to.
  • Add a canonical tag from the expired content pointing to the main content.
  • Let Google do its trick (index, impressions, etc.)
  • And redirect it.

This is a fairly good way to launder irrelevant content to content that can be redirected to a stronger page without harming it.

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