How Does Quality Affect Google Search?

In this episode of Search Off The Record, Gary Illyes and John Mueller talk about the impact of quality on Google search.

We all know that quality content is essential for SEO success. But we need to be clearer on what quality content is. Therefore, I have taken it upon myself to compile the “bits of information” in this interview for you.

The episode starts with John Mueller and Gary Illyes reminiscing about their early days at Google. But the conversation quickly shifts to quality and its impact on Google Search. Gary Illyes emphasizes that quality is a complex and overarching concept that affects everything from ranking to crawling.

Quality: The Cornerstone of Search Systems

Gary points out that quality is not just about ranking; it affects sitemaps, crawling programs, indexing, and even index selection. The quality of a web page is an essential factor that Google’s algorithms consider when deciding what to crawl and index.

The Role of Quality in Crawling

The discussion addresses the role of quality in crawling. Gary introduces the concept of a “Crawl Scheduler,” a system that predicts what will be crawled based on the quality of previously crawled pages.

For example, if a new site like “” has a good-quality homepage, Google is more likely to crawl other pages linked from that homepage. The homepage’s quality is a predictive benchmark for the quality of other pages on the site.

Quality and Frequency of Change

John Mueller questions whether frequency of change and quality are related. Gary explains that quality is the most critical factor while both are different signals. Even for legal pages like terms of service, the most important thing is the quality of the content, not the frequency of updates.

Quality: A Versatile Metric

Gary also points out that quality is not a one-size-fits-all metric. Different parts of a website can have different levels of quality. For example, one site subsection may be of higher quality than another, and Google’s algorithms consider this when scheduling crawls.

Key Takeaways

Quality affects almost everything Google Search does, including crawl prioritization, indexing decisions, ranking, etc. It is a vast and complex topic:

  • Quality is a multi-dimensional concept that affects every aspect of Google Search. Google uses a Crawl Scheduler to predict what will be crawled, which is heavily influenced by the quality of previously crawled pages.
  • Google tries to predict page quality when crawling. Higher-quality pages are crawled earlier and more often. The crawler starts with neutral assumptions for home pages and then extrapolates based on home page quality.
  • For a site section with consistently low-quality content, such as poor user-generated content, Google can improve the crawling of higher-quality sections by crawling those URLs less often.
  • Quality is the #1 factor driving Google’s indexing and crawling decisions. The frequency of changes also plays a role, but quality is the most important.
  • Legal pages like Terms of Service can be high quality – the subject matter doesn’t inherently determine quality. But if a section such as legal documents rarely changes, the scan frequency can be reduced.
  • Over time, you can improve quality and avoid adverse crawling effects. Removing noticeably low-quality content can help.
  • Low-quality content does not harm popular sites with strong backlinks, such as WebmasterWorld.
  • Moderate duplicate content is not too worrying. Affiliate links are okay if they add value rather than just repeating the product description.
  • Quality and frequency of changes are different but essential signals in Google’s crawling and indexing decisions.

With Google’s emphasis on quality, SEO professionals must create high-quality, valuable content. It not only improves rankings but also positively impacts other aspects of Search, such as crawling and indexing.

By understanding the complex role of quality in Google’s algorithms, SEO professionals can better optimize their strategies to align with what Google considers “high-quality content” and thus gain a competitive advantage in the ever-evolving landscape of Search Engine Optimization.


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