Gizmodo has learned that technology news site CNET has been deleting thousands of outdated articles over the past few months in an effort to improve its performance in Google search results.
Archived copies of CNET’s author pages show that the company removed small batches of articles before the second half of July, but then picked up the pace. Thousands of articles have disappeared in recent weeks. A CNET representative confirmed that the company was culling stories but declined to share exactly how many stories it had removed. The move adds to recent controversy over CNET’s editorial strategy, which has included layoffs and error-riddled article trials. Written by AI-powered chatbots.
“Removing content from our site is not a decision we make lightly. Our teams analyze numerous data points to determine whether there are pages on CNET that are not currently serving a meaningful audience. This is best practice on CNET,” said Taylor Canada, CNET’s senior director of marketing and communications. industry standard for large sites like ours that rely primarily on SEO traffic.” “In a perfect world, we would leave all of our content on our site forever. Unfortunately, we are being penalized by the modern internet for leaving all previously published content directly on our site. A representative for the CNET Media Workers Union declined to comment. (Disclosure: Gizmodo Editor-in-Chief Dan Ackerman is a former CNET employee.)
A post shared by CNET An internal memo about this practice. Removing, redirecting, or updating irrelevant or unhelpful URLs “sends a signal to Google that CNET is fresh, relevant, and deserving of being ranked higher than our competitors in search results,” the document states.
According to the note about “content trimming,” the company considers a number of factors before “discontinuing” an article, including search engine optimization, the age and length of the story, the number of visits to the article, and the number of times Google crawls the page. The company says it studies historical significance and other editorial factors before removing an article. When an article is marked for deletion, CNET says it keeps its own copy and sends the story to the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine. The company also says existing employees whose articles have been discarded will be alerted at least 10 days in advance.
SEO, or search engine optimization, is the practice of calibrating the content and design of web pages to improve performance on Google and other search engines, i.e. appearing near the search bar in the results list. Many companies live or die because of their performance on Google search, but Google is silent about how its algorithms work. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is now one of the primary drivers of editorial strategy in the press and media industry. News sites and media companies often base their editorial strategies entirely on SEO best practices, some of which amount to trial and error and guessing games.
Danny Sullivan, the company’s general communication officer for Google Search, said that Google does not recommend deleting articles just because they are considered “older”. In fact, this practice It’s something Google has advised against for years. After Gizmodo’s request for comment, Sullivan A Tweets series about this subject.
“Are you deleting content from your site because you somehow think Google doesn’t like “old” content? That’s nothing! “Our guidelines don’t encourage this,” Sullivan tweeted.
If a website has a single page with outdated content, that page is less likely to rank well. Removing it may mean that, if you have a huge site, we’ll be better able to crawl other content on the site. But that doesn’t mean we say, “Oh, the whole site is so much better now” because of what’s going on with an individual page,” Sullivan writes. “Don’t assume that deleting something just because it’s outdated will magically improve your site’s SEO.”
However, SEO experts tell Gizmodo that trimming content can be a useful strategy in some cases, but it’s an “advanced” exercise that requires high levels of expertise, according to Chris Rodgers, founder and CEO of Gizmodo. CSPSearch engine optimization agency.
Do you have a story about trimming content? Do you work on a website that deletes articles? We want to hear from you. Contact reporter Thomas Germain at firstname.lastname@example.org, Or call (323)-639-0429.
“If you have content that has fallen in traffic, ratings and search engines, and you’ve deemed it to be of no value to users, then that’s the content you need to look at,” Rodgers said. Ideally, old pages should be updated or redirected to a more relevant URL, and deleting content without redirecting should be a last resort. With fewer irrelevant pages on your site, the idea is that Google’s algorithms will be able to better index and focus on articles or pages a publisher wants to promote.
Google may have an incentive to withhold details about its search algorithm, both because it prefers to be able to make its own decisions about how websites are ranked, and because content pruning is a delicate process that can cause problems for publishers – and for Google -. If mishandled.
“Just because Google says deleting content separately doesn’t provide any SEO benefit, that’s not always true,” said Lily Ray, Senior Director of SEO and Head of Organic Research at Google. Amsafe Digital.
A media group called Red Ventures bought CNET in 2020, and the site’s changing strategies have sparked a number of controversies since then. Earlier this year, CNET was arrested Publish articles written by Amnesty International Without telling readers about the use of technology, of which there were many full of serious inaccuracies. CNET has laid off 10 percent of its staff Weeks later, the company said the move had nothing to do with artificial intelligence. (Gizmodo, along with several other G/O Media-owned sites, had its own controversy over the publication of incorrect AI-written articles in July.)
Whether deleting articles is an effective business strategy or not, it causes other problems unrelated to search engines. For a publisher like CNET — one of the Internet’s oldest tech news sites — removing articles means losing pieces of the public record that may have unexpected historical significance in the future. It also means that hundreds of journalists who have published articles on CNET could lose access to their body of work.
“CNET’s owner’s decisions to lay off a large portion of its news staff, rely on artificial intelligence for articles and focus on earnings from referral links have already tarnished CNET’s reputation, and now they are literally wiping out its legacy,” said a former CNET writer who asked. to remain unknown. “Besides the damage to historical records, this hurts every long-term employee Red Ventures has laid off, who may have relied on their interruptions in job applications.”