Google’s John Mueller answered a question about a poor translation on a website. He expanded his answer to address the issue of how Google rates a website for quality when one section of it is of poor quality.
While the question is about a section of a site that has a poor translation, Mueller’s answer provides insights into how site quality, even in one section of a site, can affect the entire website and the rankings.
Low Quality Section of a Website
The person asking the question wanted to know if a poor translation can affect an entire website.
“I wonder if a poor translation of a new language version can negatively affect the SEO for (the) domain’s more established main language versions.”
He then offered the example of a well established French language site whose publisher adds a German language section of the site with poor autogenerated German language content.
He acknowledged that he knows Google frowns on poor quality translations.
What he wanted to know was whether this poor quality section could bring down the rest of the site or if the negative quality would be isolated to that section of the site.
One Part of Site Can Drag Down Entire Site
John Mueller answered the question as to whether the poor quality would be isolated to one section of a site.
“I guess the short answer is yes.
The main issue is less about these being translated versions of the content, but more that for some things, we look at the quality of the site overall.
And when we look at the quality of the site overall, if you have significant portions that are lower quality it doesn’t matter for us like why they would be lower quality.
If they’re just bad translations, of if they’re terrible content or whatever.
But if we see that there are significant parts that are lower quality then we might think overall this website is not so fantastic as we thought.
And that can have effects in different places across the website.
So in short, I guess if you have a very low quality translation that’s also indexed and that’s also very visible in search, then that can definitely pull down the good quality translation as well or the good quality original content that you also have.”
No Big Red Flags for Site Quality
Sometimes we look for big red flags that stand out but John Mueller explains that in terms of site quality, it’s a matter of a lot of things working together, like signals, to indicate whether the site is high quality or low quality.
The person asked a follow up question about translations and Mueller started talking about overall site quality assessment.
He described how many different low quality aspects of a site can work together to contribute to a negative quality assessment from Google about the entire site.
“So at least the way that I understand it, it’s more a matter of us trying to understand the quality of the website overall.
And that’s usually not something where they’re individual things that we could just point at and say like, oh, if you have five misspellings on a page, that’s a sign of low quality.
These things happen individually.
And all of these factors I think individually are hard to say that they’re a sign of something being low quality but rather we have to take everything together and then figure out what the mix is together.
And that’s also a reason why sometimes when you significantly improve the quality of a website overall or when things get significantly worse, it just takes a lot of time for our systems to figure out like oh, overall the view of this website is now better or worse.
So from that point of view, it’s not that we have anything specific that we could point at.”
Overall Site Quality
Mueller’s been talking a lot about overall site quality over the past year and it’s been very fascinating to learn about, especially considering how so many are reporting that their content isn’t getting indexed.
I think an important takeaway is that there isn’t one big specific red flag to point at as something that’s to blame for negative site quality. But rather, it’s a many things working together to signal an overall impression of quality.
One Low Quality Area Can the Hurt Entire Site
Watch at 6:53 Minute Mark