When you are doing routine website content housekeeping, you will come across old content. Most website owners do not know what to do with such content.
Old content can hurt the authority of your website. As such, you have two options – to remove it or improve it. Making the right decision can be rewarding. It can increase organic traffic, conversions, links, engagement, and visibility on search engines. Simply put, it is excellent for your SEO campaign.
The primary objective of Google is making useful information accessible to the world. This is still their main goal to date.
Content marketing has changed significantly over the years. After the first Google Panda update, businesses realised that content is king. In response, they created all types of content. Some of the material was fantastic. Most of it was average. A considerable percentage of the content was poor.
Although websites are publishing content at a high rate, most of it is redundant. In 2016, the internet had 130 trillion webpages and Google does not index all of them due to a number of reasons such as poor structure, relevance, lack of optimisation, and many other reasons.
You have to rethink your website content strategy if you want Google to index your pages. Ideally, the content should be useful, relevant and optimised.
Website Content Housekeping Hacks
Rethinking Your Content Strategy
According to Google, removing content can hurt your SEO efforts. This is not true. Removing old material from your site can increase organic traffic by 60%. It also increases the number of views per webpage.
It is worth noting that removing archived pages does not affect indexed pages. It, however, increases the engagement levels on your website.
Here are the steps you should take when removing or improving old content.
Audit Your Content
The first step is auditing and assessing your website content. After analysis, you should class the content into three categories. These are useful content, useless content, and content that is can hurt your site.
There are many crawlers you can use to perform this process. The best are Deepcrawl, Oncrawl, Sitebulb, and Botify.
Once you are through with crawling, you need to inspect other on-page elements. First, check if the titles and URLs are SEO-friendly.
You should then check the author and publication date. The author should be an expert on the subject of the content. The publication date should tell you if the content is fresh or outdated.
The next step involves checking the number of reads. The more reads, the better. It is an indicator that your audience likes that content. After reviewing the number of reads, look at the word count. The content should be broad and detailed.
Lastly, you should assess the number of links. Ensure that the content has an adequate number of internal links and backlinks. They should also be of high-quality.
Evaluate the Quality of Your Content
Once you complete the site audit, move on to evaluating the quality of your content.
High-quality content is accurate, informative and engaging. It also solves problems and answers the readers’ questions. Low-quality content lacks optimisation, has no audience and has no objectives.
According to Google, quality content is useful, valuable and credible. Google also uses E-A-T to gauge the quality of content. E-A-T is a combination of three terms – expertise, authority and trust.
Expertise refers to your mastery of a specific area. Your content gets authority when other people recognise your expertise. Trust is when others believe in your content and are ready to buy your ideas.
Google considers content as low-quality if it has inadequate E-A-T. Other elements that contribute to this include poor title, distractions, shallow content, and a negative reputation of the site.
As mentioned above, you can find it challenging to deal with old website content. In October 2015, Google’s Gary Illyes said that they do not recommend removing old content. Instead, you should add high-quality stuff.
Later on, Illyes said that removing content does not guarantee any improvements. He added that only indexed pages affect your ranking on SERPs. This means that old non-indexed content has no impact on your site’s ranking.
In a separate forum about website content housekeeping, Google’s John Mueller shared a different opinion. John said that improving your content improves your ranking. He also stated that removing old stuff lowers your site ranking.
Both Mueller and Illyes are clearly against content removal. The idea came from Google’s Michael Wyszomierski back in 2011. Michael suggested that migrating low-quality content could improve the ranking of a website.
If you run an audit on your site, you are likely to find out that some content is more popular than others. This is known as content inequality.
What Determines Quality Content?
It is challenging to identify the factors you should use to measure the quality of your content. Even worse, Google officials are issuing contradicting statements.
Metrics such as page views, organic traffic, and links are an excellent starting point. You can also measure quality using the number of conversions and engagement levels.
Ultimately, many variables affect the quality of your content. It is advisable to judge yourself when evaluating your content.
Choose What to Do with Your Existing Content
The last step in this process requires to decide the best course of action. Your decision should be data-driven. You can either remove or improve the content.
The improvement involves updating, rewriting or consolidating content. Removal means that you de-index the content from search engines.
Here are the five actions you could take on the content.
Keep it as it is
You can opt to leave your website content unchanged. Go for this option if your content is accurate and has historical value. It should also get high engagement levels and consistent traffic.
Additionally, you can keep your content if it ranks on the first page of search results. It should also have quality links and generate many conversions.
If your content is already productive, do not change it. Focus on areas that need improvement.
Content Update and Refreshing
Sometimes, your website content might need refreshing. Such content usually generates traffic but has low conversions. It can also have a high ranking and low engagement levels.
There are three ways of improving the content that is performing poorly. First, you need to update the information so that it becomes accurate. After this, ensure that it is better than the content on competing sites. Lastly, keep it on the same URL.
Refreshing your content gets results within a short time. You should notice more views, a better ranking and more reads.
If your content is getting little or no traffic, you might need to revise it. The same applies if it has no conversions and a poor ranking on search results.
In most cases, content that needs rewriting has a compelling title and a mediocre body. The best way to solve this issue is by starting from scratch. Update the information to achieve accuracy. You will also need to create a new optimised URL for the content.
When creating the new URL, maintain the title from the old content. After rewriting, your content will rank higher and get more engagements. With time, it should generate conversions.
This is probably one of the most important website content housekeeping process. If you have many articles covering one topic, you should consolidate them. You should also combine content when two pages are competing on the same search result page.
Mueller mentioned that Google has no issues with the consolidation of content. He said that if you combine several pages, Google will consider the resultant content as more valuable than the original.
If you want to consolidate content, you will have to start anew. Make sure that you extract all useful information from your old content. If such content needs updating, do it. Keep in mind that your content has to be better than that on competing websites. After you draft the content, post it under a new optimised URL.
The results of consolidating should become noticeable after a short while. You will get more traffic and views, as well as a higher ranking on Google.
Content Deletion and De-Indexing
Your content needs immediate deletion if it is shallow and irrelevant. Moreover, you should remove if it is plagiarised or it has poor quality. The signs of low-quality content are few or no links, shares, conversions and traffic.
When you remove content from your site, Google will de-index it the next time it crawls your site. It will no longer appear in search results. This means that it cannot hurt your ranking as users would not see the poor content.
Content is king. A website with high-quality content attracts more traffic. This, in turn, translates into more leads and potentially more sales. The key to a successful online presence is by having great content on your website.
You should conduct website content housekeeping regularly. Start with auditing to discover the old content on your website. Once you finish auditing, evaluate the content. This allows you to see what needs improvement and what you should delete. Before taking action, use relevant metrics to measure the quality of the content.
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