Google Webmaster Tools: Quality Issues Message
Posted: January 2, 2013 by Alex Chan
If you found this post, chances are you've received a message in Google Webmaster Tools with the title "Google Webmaster Tools: Quality Issues on http://www.yourwebsite.com/". The good news is it's not the end of the world. The decline in traffic can be recovered and you can bring your website back into good standing.
Dear site owner or webmaster of http://www.yourwebsite.com/,
We've detected that some of your site's pages may be using techniques that are outside Google's Webmaster Guidelines.
Specifically, we detected low-quality pages on your site which do not provide substantially unique content or added value. Examples could include thin affiliate pages, doorway pages, automatically generated content, or copied content. For more information about unique and compelling content, visit http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=66361.
We encourage you to make changes to your site so that it meets our quality guidelines. Once you've made these changes, please submit your site for reconsideration in Google's search results.
If you have any questions about how to resolve this issue, please see our Webmaster Help Forum for support.
Google Search Quality Team
How to Fix Google Webmaster Tools: Quality Issues Message
Unfortunately, the generic message doesn't contain any information about what they found. All they really do is tell you to read their Webmaster Guidelines. The guidelines are pretty dry reading but they do highlight what's acceptable, and more importantly, what's unacceptable.
First thing you need to do is identify the pages that have been penalized. The title of the message sent by Google also offers a hint to the issue. These are a few of the titles you may encounter:
- Google Webmaster Tools: Quality Issues
- Google Webmaster Tools notice of detected unnatural links
- Google Webmaster Tools notice of detected doorway pages
The title generally matches up to something on the Webmaster Guidelines "To Avoid" list. In our case we're dealing with the "Google Webmaster Tools: Quality Issues" so we can cross a few off the list:
- Automatically generated content
Participating in link schemes Cloaking Sneaky redirects Hidden text or links Doorway pages
- Scraped content
- Participating in affiliate programs without adding sufficient value
- Loading pages with irrelevant keywords
Creating pages with malicious behavior, such as phishing or installing viruses, trojans, or other badware Abusing rich snippets markup Sending automated queries to Google
Next go into Google Analytics and find out which pages are no longer receiving hits. The "Content" area in Analytics will let you know which pages have been penalized. Compare groups of pages like /post/ or /video/ and search for steep drops in traffic.
From this point you should be able to identify what Google disliked about the Quality of the pages. There are a number of ways to clean up up the bugs. Google's main issue is that the content on the pages isn't unique, or there isn't enough information. The easiest thing to do is exclude the penalized pages from your website. For example, if you're automatically creating pages out of Twitter posts (Scraped Content), remove the individual pages. You can still display the content as long as it's not on it's own page. Alternatively, you can increase the quality of the pages by adding in original content. The decision is up to you whether you'd like to keep these pages indexed within Google. Whatever you decide to do, act quickly, most of the time Google didn't find everything and they will continue searching for more problems with your site. We also want to keep the penalized time as short as possible right?
Make sure to log all the changes you make to the site, you'll need to list the changes in your response to Google later.
Once you feel you've cleaned up all the pages, submit a request for reconsideration. Your response should look something like this:
Dear Google Response Team,
We would like to submit our site http://www.yoursite.com for reconsideration. We got a notice in Webmaster Tools about "Quality Issues" on Jan 2, 2013.
We have determined that our video pages that declined in traffic:
After reviewing the pages, I can see that they are considered Scraped Content. I understand that is against the Webmaster Guidelines so I have taken he following steps to cleaning up the pages.
List what you did to fix the issue.
– I have removed the pages
– I have improved the content on the pages
– I have converted the pages into something else
Thank you for taking the time to review my reconsideration.
The most important part about your response is the actions you've taken to correct the issue. You need to offer a sincere response with what you've done, plan to do, and show that you're working to get back to good standing.
Usually it takes about 5 days to 2 weeks for a response. Hopefully you receive something like this:
We've processed your reconsideration request for http://www.yourwebsite.com/
We received a request from a site owner to reconsider how we index the following site: http://www.yourwebsite.com/.
We've now reviewed your site. When we review a site, we check to see if it's in violation of our Webmaster Guidelines. If we don't find any problems, we'll reconsider our indexing of your site. If your site still doesn't appear in our search results, check our Help Center for steps you can take.
Once again they don't offer much information. Did they do something or not? Generally in my experience, if you've received this message, then things are good and you can pat yourself on the back. Keep working on improvements and watch Analytics for traffic spikes that show you're on the right path. If you don't receive a response after two weeks, chances are you need to continue fixing things up and submit another reconsideration request.
Good luck with your penalty if you received one! Just remember that no penalty is permanent, and you can fix just about anything. Google is not interested in hurting you, they just want quality pages indexed in their search engine. Keep improving your content and your site will rank again.
Here's a video by Matt Cutts regarding Google's reconsideration requests: