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Google Confirms: Quality Is Foremost Factor In Search Indexing

Quality content is the top factor influencing Google's indexing and crawling decisions, per a discussion in a recent podcast.

  • Quality affects everything in search, especially indexing.
  • However, quality content doesn't guarantee high rankings.
  • Removing low quality content can help improve Google's perception of a site.

Quality is a critical factor influencing nearly every aspect of search, according to a recent discussion between John Mueller and Gary Illyes of Google’s Search Relations team.

During the recent “Search Off the Record” podcast, the two delved into quality’s role in everything from crawling and indexing to ranking.

While quality content doesn’t guarantee high rankings, it can impact how Google interacts with a site.

Additionally, the conversation dispelled common SEO myths and clarified that affiliate sites can produce quality content.

Here are the highlights from the latest podcast episode.

Quality Affects Every Aspect of Search

According to Illyes, quality is a significant factor in all search systems, influencing everything from sitemaps to ranking.

“Quality affects pretty much everything that the Search systems do,” Illyes explained, emphasizing the breadth of quality’s role from sitemaps to ranking.

The conversation revealed that Google’s crawl scheduler uses quality signals to prioritize URLs for crawling. If Google knows it has X URLs to crawl from a site, it tries to build an ordered list based on its predicted quality.

Moreover, quality is a significant factor when it comes to indexing decisions, Illyes explains:

“The most important is quality. It’s always quality. And I think externally, people don’t necessarily want to believe it, but the quality, that’s the biggest driver for most of the indexing and crawling decisions that we make.”

A website’s quality can impact the crawling process, even for new sites. For example, if a new page is discovered through sitemaps, Google will look back on the quality of the previously crawled homepage to decide whether to crawl the new page.

The Role Of Quality In Ranking

While quality does influence how Google crawls and indexes pages, it doesn’t necessarily equate to higher rankings.

Illyes clarified that having high-quality content doesn’t automatically guarantee a top spot in Google’s search results.

The Variability Of Quality Across A Site

Illyes explained that quality can be specific to different parts of a website.

For instance, if one part of a site consistently delivers high-quality content, it may be treated differently from another known for lower-quality content.

On the other hand, if certain parts of a website consistently deliver low-quality content, these areas might be crawled less frequently.

User-generated content (UGC) was cited as an example where the quality can vary. If a pattern of lower-quality content is detected in a UGC section, that could influence Google’s crawling behavior for that specific part of the site.

The Ability To Improve Site Quality

Illyes reassured listeners that they could improve the quality of their site, even if it previously contained low-quality content. He encourages site owners to remove low-quality content to enhance the rest of the site.

Removing low-quality content can boost Google’s perception of the site, which might influence how Google crawls and indexes the remaining pages.

Clearing Up SEO Misconceptions

Illyes debunked some common SEO misconceptions during the discussion.

Contrary to widespread belief, duplicate content isn’t always a problem, and affiliate links are not an issue as long as the surrounding content is unique and valuable.

The same goes for translated content, although human review of machine translations is highly recommended.

Affiliate Sites & Quality

Regarding affiliate sites, Illyes highlighted that it’s not just about the affiliate link. The quality of the content around the product matters as much.

He states:

“If a product is reviewed, pictures are taken, and unique content is created, it counts as high-quality content.”

In Summary

Improving overall site quality can positively influence how Google crawls, indexes, and perceives a site. When low-quality content is removed, the rest of the site may benefit.

While quality content alone doesn’t guarantee high rankings, dedicating resources to produce valuable, unique content will likely enhance a site’s standing in search.

Featured Image: Screenshot from, September 2023. 

Category News SEO
SEJ STAFF Matt G. Southern Senior News Writer at Search Engine Journal

Matt G. Southern, Senior News Writer, has been with Search Engine Journal since 2013. With a bachelor’s degree in communications, ...

Google Confirms: Quality Is Foremost Factor In Search Indexing

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