For many businesses, blogging is a primary communication channel. It keeps a record of your growth, gives your customers a pulse on the company, and when done well, has the potential to drastically increase your web traffic. That’s why, with the revolution of content marketing, many marketers consider blogging a must-have content distribution channel. After all, it’s the only distribution platform that will be 100% controlled by your company.

Now that blogs are widely accepted as a key channel for corporate communication, many websites have built up a blog archive full of posts that are outdated and irrelevant to their audience. At one time, marketers believed that more posts covering the same topic with similar keywords gave a website more opportunities to rank for that keyword. Today, Google handles queries a little bit differently. Not only does Google count the quantity of your links, it also judges the quality of those links, and worse performing pages hurt your search ranking. To combat this rank decay, marketers have turned to pruning. At MediaJel, we use pruning, along with strategies like advertising, public relations and search engine optimization, to help our clients reach their audience and their goals. Here’s how it works:

What is Pruning?
Pruning is a strategic process for removing low-quality content from your website or blog. The process is broken into 5 parts:  

  1. Content Audit 
  2. Immediate pruning 
  3. Consolidation
  4. Improvements 
  5. Evaluation 

How Pruning Helps Grow your Traffic
It’s time to admit that some of your blogs are hurting more than helping. 

The way the google algorithm works is simple; great content that answers people’s questions, gives them complete information, and leads them down a path that makes sense for their buyer’s journey is ranked higher. Unfortunately, it also penalizes low-quality content with symptoms like low click rates and high bounce rates. Chances are you have a good amount of blog posts that aren’t driving traffic to your site and as a result, they’re diluting your link equity. 

3 Signs Your Website Could Benefit from Pruning

  • You’ve been blogging consistently for over a year 
  • Your blog pages get impressions but not enough clicks and you have a high bounce rate 
  • You have lots of short blogs (2-6 paragraphs) about the same topic

5 Tips for Pruning your Blog Content 

  • Start with the “no-brainers” first.
    When you pull your website analytics data, it should be obvious which pages need the axe immediately. Symptoms of a low-quality page will include low visitor rates, time on page is less than 30 seconds, and bounce rates are higher than 70%. The no-brainers will be pages that hit at least two out of three symptoms. A page that has one symptom, but not the others, has a better shot at converting on google with some strategic changes to improve the page’squality.Google considers content as high-quality when it is relevant, readable, answers questions, and is needed or interesting in the marketplace. One of the best indicators of high quality content is those pieces that get quoted, linked to, and shared across relevant platforms. It can be a challenge to look at your content alone and determine the quality.  After all, you wouldn’t post a bad blog on purpose.
  • Use “noindex” Tag for Low-Performing Pages that Serve a Purpose.
    Noindex tags are used on low performing pages that meet the criteria for pruning, but are needed on your site for navigation or organization. Examples of noindex candidates include FAQ pages, blog archives, an Author Bios. Using the noindex tag lets Google know that their bots shouldn’t crawl that page, which reduces their negative impact on your SEO.
  1. Use These Categories to Guide your Content Audit.
    Keep As-Is: These are your top performing pages. You can find these by organizing your page visitors, conversion, or click data from highest to lowest.Prune: These are your no-brainer pages. If they fit the symptoms (low in pageviews, inbound links, organic traffic, and conversions) they go in this category, and you can prune them right away for a quick win.
    Improve and Consolidate:
    After you’ve decided which content pieces are great as-is and which pieces aren’t salvageable, you’re left with a healthy list of pages that add value, but hurt your SEO efforts. These pages can be improved by updating with relevant information and asking how you could better cover the topic, utilize keywords, and add to the market’s existing knowledge base. Sometimes, when you have lots of short-form blogs that cover key elements of the same topic, they can be consolidated and republished as a new blog that completely covers the topic in one place.
  • Don’t Delete Your Posts; Unpublish Them.
    Never forget — there’s a chance you were wrong. In the case that you misread the data or market conditions change, there may be a time when you need to resurrect an old blog post. When you delete a blog post in your CMS, it removes all the content, the url, and any link equity that it may have generated. Instead, unpublish the post (this should be an option in any CMS system you use) which will make it inaccessible from a web browser, but will retain all the content and the original URL.
  • Redirect for Unpublished and Consolidated Content.
    Whether you delete or unpublish, you’ll need to redirect those URLs to a related page or (if absolutely necessary) use a 404 redirect. When you remove content in your website’s back end, Google won’t know right away. The page you just took down will still be flagged in the search engine for the same terms. 404 redirects tell Google that this page no longer exists, so you won’t be penalized for having them. However, be wary of how many pages you 404 redirect at a time. Google will sometimes flag sites for an unusually large amount of 404’s. Instead, some webmasters compound their results by redirecting the unpublished URLs to a well-ranked page that covers the same topic.

Pruning can be an effective tool at getting the most out of your content marketing efforts. It allows you to maintain your search rank with google while improving your relevance with visitors. But it isn’t a silver bullet. Pruning, at its best, is part of a larger marketing strategy that includes content, public relations and more. At MediaJel, our team of marketing strategists, copywriters, and content creators know how to create holistic marketing campaigns, including high-quality content, advertisements and web pages that are developed with user experience and search engine optimization in mind. If you’d like to learn more about content marketing, pruning, or how MediaJel can help you with either, let’s start a conversation.