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Content Quality Analysis Part 2: How to Evaluate the Quality of Your Content

27th August 2019AnnabelleAnnabelle

In part one of our post on content quality, we took a look at why content quality matters. We learned that content quality matters both to search engine bots and to our real human visitors, but because there are no universal best practices for content quality, we need to be able to analyze our content like search engines do.

In this post, we’re going to walk you through how to use Botify’s indicators to identify opportunities for improving your content quality, as well as how to monitor the impact of content quality changes.

If you’re not yet familiar with Botify, we recommend referencing our content quality indicators cheat sheet located at the end of this article.

Figuring out what works and doesn’t work on your website

In our last post on content quality, we discussed how “quality” means something different for every website. E-commerce versus editorial, informational vs. transactional… every page has a different goal, and is therefore judged differently. Because there’s no single criteria for content quality, we have to look at our own website performance to figure out what we need to do.

Like all sites, your website has different types of pages for different purposes, and you don’t expect the same quality metrics for all. For example, an e-commerce website will have product pages and category pages with lists of similar products. A publisher website will have article pages and tag pages with lists of articles on the same topic.

In Botify, you can set up segments to monitor these groups of pages separately. That way, when you’re looking at correlations between quality indicators and performance, you’re not comparing apples to oranges.

By pairing content quality indicators with what we know about how Google is crawling our pages and how searchers are interacting with our content, we can start to notice helpful correlations that point us in the right direction for improvements.

How thin is too thin?

To understand what Google expects on your site, for each type of page, you will need to cross-analyze content quality indicators and SEO performance indicators. The easiest way will probably be to consider organic visits presence vs content size (excluding template – see actual content vs template in part 1 of this post).

What’s the length of your pages that receive visits compared to that of pages that don’t? We’ll use the "active" indicator, which simply indicates whether the page received organic visits or not over the analyzed period, according to the web analytics data you plugged into Botify (by default, Botify is importing the last 30 days). When it comes to "active" pages, we're not looking for how many visits a page received, just that it received a visit at all - think of it as: Goal achieved? Yes or No.

Here is a publishing website where the larger an article’s content is, the more it is likely to attract organic traffic.

CQ2-chart1

(An active page is a page that received organic traffic at least once over the last 30 days. The selected dimension, bars, represents the number of words in the page, excluding the page’s template.)

The chart above is a custom chart built in Botify Studio. Here are the steps to generate it:

  1. Select the “Active / Not Active URLs by Segment” chart
  2. Apply a filter to focus on the type of page you want to assess
  3. Change the dimension to “No. of words (not ignored)”, in Dimension / Advanced selector / View by
  4. Adjust the ranges defining the bars, using custom ranges to detail the data on your site and remove those with no data, in Dimension / Advanced selector / Ranges of values / by Custom range (i.e., if most of your pages have between 300 and 800 words, you can use the following ranges: 0-300 / 300-400 / 400-500 / 500-600 / 700-800 / 800+, by entering: 0;300;400;500;600;700;800;inf)
  5. Display by percentage using the parameter icon in the upper right corner of the chart

The steps to build the next charts will be the same: select the initial chart using the chart title, filter and apply a custom dimension.

Here is another example, with a classifieds website where we can see a floor value, around 200 words, below which ads pages underperform:

CQ2-chart2

(An active page active is a page which received organic traffic at least once over the last 30 days. The selected dimension, bars, represents the number of words in the page, excluding the page’s template.)

We can go a bit further than the simple question "Does the page generate traffic or not?" and look at the volume of visits as well. Let’s look at the publishing site example:

CQ2-chart3

(Colors show the pages’ content size, in words, excluding template content. The selected dimension, bars, represents the number of visits per page over the last 30 days.)

__We learn that in addition to being more likely to generate traffic, pages with larger content also generate more visits each. __

If information about Google’s crawl is available (via Botify Log Analyzer, which pulls information from web server log files and detail which pages are explored by the search engine), then we’ll also be able to map content quality indicators to Google’s crawling behavior. This can be done using the chart “Compliant URLs Crawled By Search Engine By Segment” and following the same approach as with active / inactive pages, but this time for crawled / not crawled by Google.

Following the same approach, if we also have positions and impressions (imported from the Google Search Console, with Botify Keywords), we will find out more about the reasons why a page does not generate traffic:

  • The page is never crawled by the search engine
  • It is crawled but never shown in search results
  • It is shown in search results but with poor positions

How much content duplication does Google tolerate?

We can, as we did for content size, look for a correlation between the amount of content duplication between pages and SEO performance indicators.

There are a number of content duplication indicators in Botify, the main ones being the page’s Similarity score, the page’s content uniqueness, and the number of similar pages with at score above 50% / 75% / 90% (see the cheat sheet for details).

The number of similar pages is particularly interesting because it combines two notions: how much the pages look alike (with a minimum similarity score), and how large the groups of similar pages are. If there are 2 or 3 pages with 75% of content overlap between them, the issue is not as serious as if there are 100 or more pages sharing this same content.

The chart below shows that on the classified site, the ads listing pages only generate traffic when there are not more than 2 highly similar pages on the website.

CQ2-chart4

An active page active is a page which generated organic traffic at least once over the last 30 days. The selected dimension (bars) indicate how many pages on the site share at least 75% of their content.

Tip: exclude pages with thin content when measuring content overlaps: if content is very small, the percentage of common content is likely to be high very easily, and including those may blur the relevant findings. Google will probably have decided to ignore pages with thin content based on the content size criteria alone, anyway.

Monitoring content quality over time

Whether you still need to improve content quality on your site or not, it’s a good idea to monitor content quality indicators over time. If you’re working on it, you’ll be able to check the results of the changes you are implementing, and if results are good already, you can verify they remain that way. It’s not uncommon to see a site update, even a small one, have unexpected effects - which is another area where Botify can help: you can avoid being caught off guard by crawling a development version to validate it before it goes live.

Monitoring change is easy as the Botify Analytics report shows content quality indicators over at least the last 5 reports:

CQ2-chart5

Keeping an eye on content changes

One often overlooked aspect of content analysis is unwanted content change, in the absence of significant changes of other indicators – content size and overlaps are in the same ballpark, HTML tags and site structure did not change… but what’s in the pages is different from before. This can easily remain undetected as explained in part 1 of this post. To detect this, we can use the same measurements as for content overlaps detection between pages on the site: we simply compare two versions of the same page over time.

The chart below shows what proportion of the pages’ content changes since the previous analysis. It helps identify when pages which are not supposed to see their content change significantly, did.

CQ2-chart6

Segments come in handy at this stage of content quality analysis as well. For example:

  • It’s normal for a category page to change as articles or products are added, but less normal for standard content pages like articles to change. If you’re monitoring content change over time by segment and notice that your article pages are changing, this may alert you to something you need to fix.
  • Some e-commerce websites don’t have control over certain aspects of their product pages because they rely on third party product catalogues. If you’re monitoring your content for changes, you can detect when the product catalogue has changed.
  • Publisher websites may not frequently update their articles except for developing stories, which are typically recently published articles. These can be monitored in Botify using the date of publication filter.

Know how Google is judging your content

The only true way to analyze your content for quality is to view it through Google’s eyes, and Botify is the first enterprise-grade SEO tool to help you do that. By allowing you to do things like automatically separate out template content, detect thin content, track content changes over time, and layer quality indicators with metrics like crawl rate, traffic, and active/non-active pages, you’re equipped with all the tools you need to perform an advanced content quality analysis.

Want to see it in action? We’d love to give you a demo! Book yours today to learn more about not only our content quality tools, but the many other tools we have in our complete enterprise SEO suite that help SEOs like you get insight into the entire search process, from crawling to conversions.

Botify’s content quality indicators

Botify content quality indicators cheat sheet