How to Identify Low Quality Content

What is Low Quality Content or Shallow Content?

Low quality pages may have been intended to serve a beneficial purpose. However, Low quality pages do not achieve their purpose well because they are lacking in an important dimension, such as having an unsatisfying amount of MC, or because the creator of the MC lacks expertise for the purpose of the page.

If a page has one or more of the following characteristics, the Low rating applies:

  • An inadequate level of Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (E-A-T).
  • The quality of the MC is low.
  • There is an unsatisfying amount of MC for the purpose of the page.
  • The title of the MC is exaggerated or shocking.
  • The Ads or SC distracts from the MC.
  • There is an unsatisfying amount of website information or information about the creator of the MC for the purpose of the page (no good reason for anonymity).
  • A mildly negative reputation for a website or creator of the MC, based on extensive reputation research. If a page has multiple Low quality attributes, a rating lower than Low may be appropriate.

Lacking Expertise, Authoritativeness, or Trustworthiness (E-A-T)

Low quality pages often lack an appropriate level of E-A-T for the purpose of the page. Here are some examples:

  • The creator of the MC does not have adequate expertise in the topic of the MC, e.g. a tax form instruction video made by someone with no clear expertise in tax preparation.
  • The website is not an authoritative source for the topic of the page, e.g. tax information on a cooking website.
  • The MC is not trustworthy, e.g. a shopping checkout page that has an insecure connection.

Note: Websites with user-generated content span the Page Quality rating spectrum. Please pay careful attention to websites that allow users to publish content with little oversight, such as social networking pages, video sharing websites, volunteer-created encyclopedias, article sharing websites, forums, etc. Depending on the topic, pages on these websites may lack E-A-T.

Important: The Low rating should be used if the page lacks appropriate E-A-T for its purpose.

Low Quality Main Content

The quality of the MC is an important consideration for PQ rating. We will consider content to be Low quality if it is created without adequate time, effort, expertise, or talent/skill. Pages with low quality MC do not achieve their purpose well.

In addition, please examine the title on the page. The title of the page should describe the content.

Exaggerated or shocking titles can entice users to click on pages in search results. If pages do not live up to the exaggerated or shocking title or images, the experience leaves users feeling surprised and confused. Here is an example of a page with an exaggerated and shocking title: “Is the World about to End? Mysterious Sightings of 25ft Sea Serpents Prompt Panic!” as the title for an article about the unidentified remains of one small dead fish on a beach. Pages with exaggerated or shocking titles that do not describe the MC well should be rated Low.

Important: The Low rating should be used if the page has Low quality MC.

Unsatisfying Amount of Main Content

Some Low quality pages are unsatisfying because they have a small amount of MC for the purpose of the page. For example, imagine an encyclopedia article on a very broad topic such as World War II that has just a few paragraphs.

Important: The Low rating should be used if the page has an unsatisfying amount of MC for the purpose of the page.

Distracting Ads/SC

We expect Ads and SC to be visible. However, some Ads, SC, or interstitial pages (i.e., pages displayed before or after the content you are expecting) make it difficult to use the MC. Pages with Ads, SC, or other features that distract from or interrupt the use of the MC should be given a Low rating.

A single pop-over Ad with a clear and easy-to-use close button is not terribly distracting, though may not be a great user experience. However, difficult-to-close Ads that follow page scrolls can be truly distracting and make the MC difficult to use.

The content of the Ads, SC, or other features may be distracting as well: sexually suggestive images such as here, grotesque images such as here, and porn Ads on non-porn pages should be considered very distracting.

Finally, Ads and SC can be distracting if the titles or images of the Ads or SC are shocking or disturbing. Here is an example of a page with shocking and exaggerated titles, images, and text in the Ads and SC.

Important: The Low rating should be used if the page has Ads, SC, or other features that interrupt or distract from using the MC.

Mixed or Mildly Negative Reputation of the Website or Creator of the Main Content

Extensive reputation research is required for all PQ rating tasks unless you have previously researched the reputation of the website. Many websites have little reputation information, unfortunately. Of the websites with reputation information, most websites have a good reputation. Please exercise care when researching the reputation of businesses. Try to find as many reviews and ratings as possible, and read the details of negative reviews and low ratings before inferring that the business overall has a negative reputation. A few negative customer service reviews are typical for businesses such as restaurants.

If the MC was not created by the website, research the reputation of the creator of the MC. While many ordinary people do not have reputation information available on the Internet, you can find reputation information on well-known YouTubers, journalists, authors, bloggers and vloggers, professionals such as lawyers and doctors, etc.

Pay attention when there is evidence of mixed or mildly negative—though not malicious or financially fraudulent—reputation. The Low rating should be used if the website or the creator of the MC has a mildly negative reputation.

Important: For a YMYL website, a mixed reputation is cause for a Low rating.

Unsatisfying Amount of Information about the Website or Creator of the Main Content

We expect some form of website information for many or most websites. We expect clear information about who (e.g., what individual, company, business, foundation, etc.) created the MC, unless there is good reason for anonymity. A long-standing Internet alias or username can also serve the same function as identifying the MC creator. However, the amount of information needed about the website or creator of the MC depends on the purpose of the page. For personal websites or non-YMYL forum discussions, an email address or social media link alone may be sufficient.

Stores and websites that process financial transactions require a high level of user trust. If a store or financial transaction website has just an email address and physical address, it may be difficult to get help if there are issues with the transaction. Likewise, many other types of YMYL websites also require a high degree of user trust.

Important: For YMYL pages and other pages that require a high level of user trust, an unsatisfying amount of any of the following is a reason to give a page a Low quality rating: customer service information, contact information, information about who is responsible for the website or information about who created the content. For other types of websites, use your judgment.

Column 1Column 2Column 3
Low: News 1Article about nuclear power
  • Low quality MC
  • Lacking E-A-T
lowThe writing of this article is unprofessional, including many grammar and punctuation errors. The MC also appears to have been paraphrased from a science article found on a different source, but with factual inaccuracies introduced throughout. The combination of low quality MC and lack of E-A-T justify the Lowest+ to Low rating.
Low: News 2Article titled “Getting Rid Of Toxins After The Holiday Season”
  • Low quality MC
  • Misleading page title
  • Lacking E-A-T
lowThe title of the article is misleading and does not reflect the actual content of the page. The MC does not explain how to get rid of toxins or what the word “toxins” in the headline refers to.The content also has many problems: the writing quality is poor, and the article includes meaningless statements such as “water therapy is one of the easiest ways of beauty regimen since it will give enough moisture on the skin”. The article fails to cite sources, and there is no evidence of E-A-T.
Low: Informational 140th birthday party food ideas
  • Low quality MC
  • Disruptive Ads
lowThis page and website have many of characteristics of Low quality pages. Close observation shows MC that contains mostly commonly known information and poor quality writing. The MC is broken up by large Ads that disrupt the user experience.
Low: Informational 2Q&A unanswered question
  • Unsatisfying amount of MC for the purpose of the page
lowSome websites rely on users to create virtually all of their MC. In this case, the MC is the user’s question. If there are no answers, the amount of MC on the page is unsatisfying.
Low: Article 1Article with tips for dressing for the office
  • Low or Lowest quality MC
  • Lacking E-A-T
lowThis content has many problems: inaccurate/meaningless information and complete lack of editing with poor spelling and grammar—both of these characteristics in combination justify the Lowest+ to Low rating.
Low: Article 2Using ginger for your health
  • Low or Lowest quality MC
  • Lacking E-A-T
lowThis content has many problems: garbled information and a lack of editing. Both of these characteristics in combination justify the Lowest+ to Low rating. In addition, lacking E-A-T on this topic is concerning.
Low: Article 3How to adopt children from Iraq (YMYL)
  • Low quality MC: commonly known information only
  • Lacking E-A-T on a YMYL topic
lowThis is a YMYL topic. However, the steps listed here are merely commonly-known information that would be of little benefit to someone interested in adopting a child from Iraq.For example, step 1 says “Choose an adoption agency” and suggests looking in a phone book. There is almost no information specific to Iraq. There is no evidence of expertise on adoption from the description about the author.Note that some Ads have the same format as links to other articles on this website, potentially making it a bit harder for users to visually distinguish these Ads from the MC and SC.
Low: FinancialPage with advice on picking a quality stock for investment (YMYL)
  • Lacking E-A-T on a YMYL topic
lowThere is no evidence that the author has financial expertise. Because this is a YMYL financial article, lacking expertise is a reason for a Low rating.
Low: MedicalPage with information about how long the flu lasts (YMYL)
  • Lacking E-A-T on a YMYL topic
lowThere is no evidence that the author has medical expertise. Because this is a YMYL medical article, lacking expertise is a reason for a Low rating.
Low: Recipes 1Apple pie recipe
  • Low quality and unsatisfying amount of MC
lowThis page and website have many of characteristics of Low quality pages. The MC is low quality and lacks important information. For example, it gives no indication of how to make a crust and doesn’t list premade crust as an ingredient. It would be very difficult to actually make an apple pie using this recipe.This page is lacking the kind of helpful content we expect in recipe pages, such as user reviews or comments. Without such information, it’s hard to tell if the recipe is any good. The small pink text at the top is not helpful for users.
Low: Recipes 2Gluten-free New York cheesecake recipe
  • Very distracting SC or Ads (not clear) in the right column
  • Disruptive Ads in the middle column
lowThis is an example of distracting and disruptive Ads/SC: there are large Ads in the main column pushing down the MC as well as highly distracting content on the right that are labeled “Top Posts & Pages.” It is unclear whether these are SC or Ads.
Low: Q&A1Page about Native American customs
  • Lacking E-A-T
lowThere are 94 answers to this question with a few results that seem helpful. Many of the posts appear to be deliberately incorrect or misleading, including the top answer, which is labeled the “best answer.”
Low: Q&A 2Page about a 2002 Volvo part
  • Misleading Ads
  • Unsatisfying amount of MC for the purpose of the page
lowPlease read the MC (areas with red boxes around it), including the completely unhelpful “answer.” This answer is so unhelpful, we can consider this question to be unanswered. This page has an unsatisfying amount of MC.In addition to a very unhelpful “answer,” the page design makes it difficult to distinguish the MC from Ads. For example, below the answer, we see a “sponsored answer,” which has the same format as the real answer, but is actually an Ad and not an answer to the question—this is misleading to users.
Low: Q&A 3Page about water and soil
  • Misleading Ads/SC
  • Unsatisfying amount of MC for the purpose of the page
lowThis is a page from a Q&A site with an unanswered question. Q&A pages exist to answer user questions. Pages with unanswered questions should generally be rated Low because they have little MC (just a question and no answer) and don’t achieve their purpose well.In addition to having no answer, this page has Ads and links to other questions (misleadingly labeled as “Relevant answers”) displayed prominently, which users may mistake for answers to the question. It takes a moment to notice that this page actually has no answer.
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