Hi Jill,

Can I ask a question about my website? I am very worried. I had about 200 pages on my site and recently added about 300 more pages of good content. I did have lots of very good top 10 rankings, but they have all disappeared and now traffic is less than half of what it was.

I don't do anything that would get me banned, but since I added pages I have fallen. I submit to paid directories and get good links from related sites.

Do you think the pages and ranks can come back? Would you have any idea why this happened?

I really appreciate any help you can give.


Jill's Response

My first question to RK was to ask what sort of content he could have added to his site that could take up 300 pages? Was this unique content he wrote himself?

RK wrote back to say that the content was articles that he had written himself. However, I was extremely suspicious as to how RK could write 300 "good content" articles all at once, since I know how difficult it is to write even *one* good article. So I clicked over to his site to learn exactly what these articles were about, yet I couldn't find them anywhere.

Turns out they were linked from some sort of "sitemap" link at the bottom of the page, and that's about it. These were definitely not an integrated part of his site, and they were far from being "good content." They were really nothing more than the junk an automated program could have churned out, with each page focusing on different variations of keyword phrases.

So was RK trying to "spam" the search engines?

I don't really think he was; I just think he didn't get it. He probably read at some forums that the more content he had on his site, the more likely he would get found.

But pages generated solely for the search engines do *not* constitute good content.

Sure, RK claimed that his articles were helpful to his site visitors, but really, they weren't. They were nothing more than 1997-era doorway pages, created to blanket the search engines with every combination of keyword phrase that might possibly be related to RK's site. I don't know if RK created them by hand or through an auto-page generator, but the consequences are apparently the same. Now his entire site doesn't show up in the search engines, and RK doesn't understand why.

I'm not sure that the "why's" of the situation are that important, but perhaps the fact that RK didn't feel his articles were important enough to link to through his global navigation should have tipped him off? If they were so useful, wouldn't he want people to easily find them? I was specifically looking for them and couldn't find them, so how would someone who didn't know they existed ever find them?

Good content is not content that is just there to target specific keyword phrases.

Good content is information that people visiting your site will find helpful in some way. It might help them in their purchasing decisions, or it might teach them something they never knew. Good content is also stuff that is completely unique and original. It's not a page that is basically the same as another page (on your site or someone else's) with a few (or even many) words substituted here or there.

Good content is definitely *not* pages that are created first for the search engines and next for the users who might read them. This is one reason why I've never bought into the whole "information page" concept, and much prefer to optimize existing pages of a site. Most sites have good pages; their creators simply hadn't thought about the search engines and appropriate keywords.

Once I delivered RK the bad news that his alleged articles really weren't good content, and that they may have been what was dragging his rankings down, he wanted to know if removing them would help his site to be found again. Unfortunately, I couldn't answer that question. I don't work for the search engines, nor am I privy to their rules and regulations. I couldn't even say for sure that the pages were really and truly the problem. It may very well have just been a coincidence or part of the latest algorithm du jour.

But that's the point; you don't need to know whether something you do may or may not be penalized by the engines. You only need to know what makes your site better overall for all interested parties. As long as you always do that, you can never make the wrong decision.

There will be times when you really do need to add good content to your site. Just make sure that you do it for the right reasons!


Discuss this article in the Small Business Ideas forum.
June 9, 2005

CEO and founder of High Rankings®, Jill Whalen has been performing search engine optimization since 1995 and is the host of the free High Rankings Advisor search engine marketing newsletter, author of "The Nitty-gritty of Writing for the Search Engines" and founder/administrator of the popular High Rankings Search Engine Optimization Forum. In 2006, Jill co-founded SEMNE, a local search engine marketing networking organization for people and companies in New England.

High Rankings is an internationally recognized search engine optimization firm located in Framingham, MA specializing in search engine optimization, SEO consultations, in-house training, site audit reports, search marketing seminars and workshops. High Rankings has a 100% success rate for substantially improving client rankings and targeted traffic.

Jill speaks at national and international conferences and has been writing about SEO and search marketing since 2000. She's been quoted in such publications as The Wall Street Journal, U.S. News & World Report and The Washington Post. Her articles have appeared in numerous print magazines and online websites including CIO Magazine, CMS Focus, The Internet Marketing Report, ClickZ, WorkZ, Inc.com, Entrepreneur, Lycos Small Business, WebProNews, SiteProNews and others. Jill has also appeared on many online and offline radio programs such as Entrepreneur Magazine's E-Biz Radio Show, SearchEngineRadio and the eMarketing Talkshow.

Search Engine Guide > Jill Whalen > Content and Search Engine Marketing