Intro from Gail
When a blog has been around for years, or in the case of this one, over 10 years, it is a good idea to clean up some of your older, time-sensitive, less relevant, or weaker content.
But how do you know what to delete? You don’t want to lose any incoming links. Redirecting them helps, but if you remove the content someone originally linked they may still delete your incoming link.
I know many other bloggers and small businesses are struggling to answer this question, too. So I reached out to an expert on the subject, Ahrefs, and asked for a guest post sharing how to decide what content it is safe to delete. This is that post.
How To Decide What Blog Content To Delete
All of us are struggling to increase the search traffic to our blogs. Does it grow slowly no matter how much content you post? How often do you post? Is it nearly four times a week?
We, at Ahrefs, experienced the same issue. The strategy we implemented led to an 89% organic traffic growth in just 3 months.
I won’t tell you about all the strategy stages in order to not make this article too long to read. I will cover only the first one. The journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step, doesn’t it? Let’s make it together.
Sometimes It’s Time to Part with Your Content
Even if you created your content with love and devotion sometimes you need to delete it. We deleted 179,158 words of content at the beginning of the campaign I’ve mentioned above and never regretted it.
By the way, have you ever used this feature available in the admin dashboard of your WordPress blog?
There’s really nothing secret about the ‘Move to Trash’ option. Just wanted to make sure that you know about it.
I must warn you that it’s a pretty devastating step. Why should you take it? Because the rules of the game change and if you want to win, you should adjust to them.
For instance, back in 2013, we posted frequently, wrote articles of a decent quality, 500+ words, targeted to multiple keywords. The tactic “the more content – the better” worked.
Hummingbird Changed Everything
But everything changed with the Hummingbird update. Google started to understand the content itself and not only keywords. Just think about it – nearly 2 million blog posts are created daily, which means that this approach doesn’t work anymore.
The takeaway is that lots of mediocre content will do more harm than good to your blog.
But that’s not all. We must consider that user signals are getting more and more important to Google over time. So all those posts with 0 visits and engagement are not sending it good vibes.
I’m sure there are many posts like these on your blog if it has been around for a while.
Our Personal Experience
When we started to implement the strategy we deleted nearly 300 blog posts.
I know it may sound crazy, but what’s more important for you is to know how we decided which posts to leave and which to get rid of…
What We Did Was Conduct a Content Audit
There was too much content to skim through, so we needed to simplify this process. A low hedge is easily leapt over, isn’t it?
Ok, here’s what we did:
First, we created a spreadsheet and put the URLs of all our blog posts into it.
We recorded the following data for each URL:
- Word Count
- Views (last 30 days)
- Views From Search (last 30 days)
- Referring Domains
We collected the view data from Google Analytics. We collected the data on referring domains using Ahrefs Batch Analysis Tool. It helps to grab data for lots of URLs at once.
Our next step was to sort the spreadsheet by several criteria:
a) number of views from search
b) total views
c) referring domains
d) word count
We sorted from the lowest to the highest and ended up with posts that had 0 views and 0 referring domains (links) at the top of the spreadsheet.
Of course, we manually checked each of these posts for the hidden gems and found a couple, by the way.
Then we just highlighted all low-quality articles that performed poorly in red, preparing them for deletion. Here’s what our final spreadsheet version looked like:
We deleted the posts marked in red.
However, we needed to preserve link equity, so we 301 redirected the URLs of the deleted pages with referring domains to either a relevant post or the blog’s home page.
That’s it. I’m sure you would like to get some advice on how to apply the technique to your own blog.
Applying the Tactic To Your Blog
The strategy is applicable only to blogs that have been up and running for some time. They should have a reasonable number of pages (at least 50 of them).
Does your blog match the criteria? Well, it’s time to run a content audit to improve its rankings.
Where should you start? Find low-quality blog posts that are under-performing and require updating or removing. Check them for the hidden gems that might just need a little clean up/renovation/promotion to get them ranking.
Please never forget to think twice before deleting anything because it’s a very tough option.
Side Note: Further reading: The Secrets Of Creating Linkbait Content
Over To You!
Are you struggling to grow your blog’s organic search traffic? Are you ready to give the above strategy a chance? It worked for us, which means that it can work for you, too.
Ok, let’s utter it once again. How to decide what blog content to delete if you love all of your articles? This is no place for our personal ties when it comes to things like SEO, marketing, competition, business, and money.
A good blogger should be guided by targeted audience pains and interests. In other words, cater to people’s needs and wants rather than your personal vanity.
The takeaway is – analyze all the blog posts on your site, reveal those that are just a ballast for your web ship, and get rid of them. This will let your vessel move faster.
The strategy described above takes careful planning, focus, and hard work, but you’ll see that your efforts will be rewarded as soon as the curve in Google Analytics starts to head upwards.
Have any questions / suggestions regarding the strategy? Ready to share your personal experience of applying it? Your comments are welcome right below!
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- How To Decide What Blog Content To Delete; 89% Traffic Increase - August 26, 2018