updating website content

Search engine optimization (SEO) has been around for two decades now. When the process of SEO started, it was primarily a gaming mechanism to rank as highly as possible on search engines like Google. This involved repeating the same keywords over and over on a page and very simplistic tactics to rank highly and reap the benefits of added traffic. As time went on and the internet became more crowded, search engines had to ensure they wouldn’t be gamed while increasing the threshold of sites that rank on the first page of results.

These changes have resulted in companies having to create more content, write more articles, and simply have more pages on their websites to drive traffic. But over time, even the content aspect of SEO has changed. The days of writing 300 to 500 words on a page and them ranking well are gone and being replaced by one thousand, two thousand, five thousand, even ten thousand word long posts! Moreover, industries like “YML” (your-money-your-life) are being evaluated on the criteria of “EAT” (expertise – authority – trustworthiness). They are not only required to increase the length and quality of their content going forward but also look back.

With that in mind, here are five easy steps to follow in cleaning up your old content in 2020. It’ll help you maximize your SEO, increase your traffic, and help your business make more money.

Put Your Content Into Buckets

Step 1 of this strategy, whether you have 5 posts or 50,000 posts, is to classify your content into buckets. The buckets we generally recommend are posts which drive traffic currently and those which do not, posts which meet your minimum content length guidelines and those which do not, and lastly posts which provide value to visitors and those which do not.

Modify Your Content

Once you have your content classified into these categories, there will be three things you need to do.

For posts that are already driving traffic, examine them to see how you can improve them. Could they perhaps be updated to be more relevant to the times? Would lengthening them add value and help solidify their current rankings? Could you add more information or a step by step guide to provide even greater value? These steps will help ensure the content continues to rank well and continues to drive traffic to your site or months or years to come.

For posts that meet your minimum content length guidelines but are not driving traffic, examine why. Could you better optimize the title or headings of the post? Is the content itself okay, but the post needs more backlinks? Is the post ranking well but on a topic that simply doesn’t have enough search volume? Depending on the underlying reason the post isn’t driving traffic will dictate the ultimate course of action, but get to the bottom of it as stale content that doesn’t drive traffic is of no value to you or your site.

And lastly, does your post provide value to your visitors? For example, if you wrote a news article that is now 12 years old and highly irrelevant, should that really still be on your site? If an article doesn’t provide value or information which is still of use, consider removing it. There is no reason to retain posts solely for retaining content on your site that offers no value.

Delete Posts You No Longer Need

As you evaluate your content, you may find you are going to end up deleting a large number of posts. Some posts will no longer be helpful or relevant, others may be on a topic which doesn’t have any interest or search traffic, or perhaps you found that you already covered a very similar theme in three separate posts and decided to combine them all together for one truly epic piece of content.  

No matter the reason, don’t be afraid to delete posts you no longer need. If the content isn’t providing value and traffic to your site, then there simply is no reason to keep it!

Setup Redirects

Whenever you remove content, make sure you set up 301 redirects. All URLs on your site should lead somewhere, so whether you are merely merging content, updating the URL, or deleting a post, make sure you always set up a proper 301 redirect. That way, any links, visitors, or search engines know that content is gone and what you have replaced it with. This will help maximize the value of removing and merging pieces of content on your site.

Rinse and Repeat

While this may sound like a simple process, depending on the amount of content you have, it can be a huge undertaking. As an agency, we are currently undergoing this process with several of our clients who we have worked with for years, some with as many as 10,000 posts on their site. The process itself is simple, but when you multiply it across hundreds of thousands of posts can very quickly become overwhelming.  

Break it out into bite-size pieces, and it’s okay to clean up content over several months or even a year. Slow and steady progress is far better than no progress at all. And remember, once you “finish” your content cleanup, it is something you should continue to do over and over to make your site the best it can be and drive as much traffic as possible.

As 2020 continues and we embark on a new decade for SEO, quality and lengthy content are going to become the new norm. This process will benefit your business in the future. After all, it is something that every business should annually do to make sure the content on their website is getting the maximum traffic and revenue.