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Website Content Audits — Less Really is More

It may sound counterintuitive at first, but less content can actually improve your website’s content marketing effectiveness.

Remember that college hair-do you were so proud of? Or your high school fashion sense?

It doesn’t matter whether we’re talking about enough Aqua-Net to punch a hole in the ozone layer or more recent favorites like “jeggings,” what’s hot sometimes becomes what’s not.

That’s true for content marketing, as well. Even more evergreen topics can see their moment fade.

Which is why it’s critical to review your content with the goal of removing or reworking anything that is not still on message and helping to move prospects toward a purchase decision.

Why Content Audits are Critical

Google and the other search engines seek to give their users relevant, up-to-date content. No surprise, your site visitors are seeking the same thing, whether they reach you through a search engine results page or any other channel.

So leaving outdated content or content that is no longer relevant to your target audience actually detracts from your site’s strength. Irrelevant content defuses your site’s power to attract an audience and hold their attention.

It also paints a picture of your site as a peddler of low-quality content. How often do you give a website a second chance after an initial bad experience? If your first search didn’t turn up what you wanted and you rephrase for a second try, would you go back to the same site again if the first result was completely off the mark?

How to Perform a Content Audit

Analytics tools can help you determine what content should stay, what should go, and what should be revamped.

Bounce rates higher than your site norm, page views that are lower than your best content, and fewer clicks all point toward a deeper dive being needed to see whether that particular piece of content needs attention. Those same signals can also mean there are other kinds of performance issues like a slow loading page or missing on-page SEO elements like tags or meta data, so it’s worthwhile to do a technical audit at the same time.

Content Audit Decisions: Revamp or Remove

Unless your business has seen a significant pivot away from old products/services or your target audience or competitive market have changed dramatically, revamping is usually the preferred path.

Anything with good organic traffic numbers, lots of backlinks, or both is worth keeping. The new page may require a fix as minor as a new headline or major surgery with a complete re-organization of the organization’s structure and keyword usage.

Of course, not every piece is going to be salvageable. Before you make that oh-so satisfying click of the “delete” button, consider how best to handle the deleted content:

Redirect

Do you have a closely enough related page you can redirect traffic to?

Intentional Deletion

410 beats 404, by more than 6. That is to say, you can set up the page to signal back to the search engines that the page was deleted intentionally. This is the route to take if there’s no related page to redirect to.

Whatever direction you go, be sure to log in to the Google Search Console account for the site and use the Removals tool to have the page de-indexed. This jump starts the process more rapidly than waiting for the search engine to crawl the site again. You should likely take the same steps with Bing and other search engines, as well.

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Andrew Schulkind

Since 1996, Andrew Schulkind has asked clients one simple question: what does digital marketing success look like, and how can marketing progress be measured? A veteran content marketer, web developer, and digital strategist, Andrew founded Andigo New Media to help firms find a more strategic and productive mix of tools that genuinely support online brand goals over time. With a passion for true collaboration and meaningful consensus, his work touches social media, search-engine optimization, and email marketing, among other components. He views is primary goal as encouraging engagement. Getting an audience involved in your story requires solid information architecture, a great user experience, and compelling content. A dash of common sense doesn’t hurt, either. Andrew has presented at Social Media Week NY and WordCampNYC, among other events, on content marketing and web-development topics. His technology writing appears on the Andigo blog, in a monthly column on Biznology.com, and for print and online publications like The New York Enterprise Report, Social Media Today, and GSG Worldwide’s publications LinkedIn & Business, Facebook & Business, and Tweeting & Business. Andrew graduated with a B.A. in Philosophy from Bucknell University. He engages in a range of community volunteer work and is an avid fly fisherman and cyclist. He also loves collecting meaningless trivia. (Did you know the Lone Ranger made his mask from the cloth of his brother's vest after his brother was killed by "the bad guys?")

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