How to Conduct Content Pruning to Improve Your SEO
Content has always been king when it comes to SEO. After all, without high-quality content, your website will not be able to rank highly on search engine results pages (SERPs).
However, simply having a lot of content is not enough — you also need to make sure that your content is relevant and up-to-date. This is where content pruning comes.
What Is Content Pruning?
Content pruning is the process of removing outdated, duplicate, or irrelevant content from your website. This can include anything from blog posts to service pages, and everything in between.
The aim of content pruning is to improve your website’s overall quality, which in turn can improve your SEO. Search engines like Google are constantly looking for websites that offer the best user experience, and part of that is having high-quality, relevant content.
Why Is Content Pruning Important for SEO?
There are a number of reasons why content pruning is important for SEO:
1. Improves the overall quality of your website
As a related note, high-quality content is one of the very first factors that most search engines, especially Google, take into account when ranking pages. If your website’s content is outdated or irrelevant, search engine bots can still crawl old content and index it, which can eventually lead to a decline in your website’s SERP ranking.
By pruning your content, you can ensure that only the best, most relevant content is left on your website — which can directly improve your SEO.
2. Reduces duplicate content
Another common issue that can arise from outdated content is duplicate content. This leads to what is termed content cannibalization. This happens when search engine bots crawl your website and find multiple pieces of content that cover the same topic.
They can’t determine which piece is the most relevant, so they will often just index the first piece of content they find. This can split your link equity and search engine authority, which can negatively impact your SEO.
3. Makes your website more user-friendly
User experience is another key factor that search engines take into account when ranking websites. If your website is difficult to navigate or uses outdated design elements, users are likely to click away — which tells search engines that your website is not worth ranking highly.
By pruning your content, you can declutter your website and make it more user-friendly, which can improve your website’s SEO.
4. Saves you time and money
Creating new content takes time and money, as well as effort. If you’re constantly creating new content without removing old, outdated pieces, you’re likely just wasting your resources.
Content pruning can often go hand in hand with refreshing and/or repurposing your content — both of which are cost-efficient ways to produce content for your website.
5. Helps you focus your content strategy
As a related point, if you have a lot of old, irrelevant content on your website, it can be difficult to determine what your content strategy should be moving forward.
By pruning your content, you can get a better understanding of what kind of content is actually performing well and receiving engagement, as well as what topics your audience is interested in.
5 Content Pruning Tips to Improve Your SEO
Content pruning requires a lot of careful planning and forethought to do correctly. Here are a few tips to help you get started:
1. Do a content audit
The first and most essential step is to conduct a content audit. A content audit is a comprehensive review of all the content on your website. This includes everything from blog posts and articles to service pages and product descriptions.
When doing a content audit, pay particular attention to the following to help you prune your content more efficiently, at the very least:
- Duplicate content
- Outdated information, even for evergreen content
- Low-quality content (grammar, punctuation, etc.)
- Poor-performing content (low engagement, few social shares, etc.)
- Orphaned content (pages with no inbound links)
In order to do a content audit, you can either do it manually or use a tool like Screaming Frog, Yoast SEO, or SEMRush. You can also leverage the help of professional digital marketing agencies like Ilfusion if you want assistance with your content audit or pruning process.
2. Establish content criteria
This step can go hand in hand with your content audit, whichever works best for you. Content criteria are standards that you can use to determine whether or not a piece of content should stay on your website. Some common content criteria include the following:
- Content is outdated (information, statistics, etc.)
- Content is no longer relevant to your target audience
- Content no longer aligns with your branding or goals
- Content is not helpful or informative
- Content is poorly written or has errors
- Content is duplicated elsewhere on your website or across the web
- The page receives little to no traffic
- The page has a high bounce rate
- There are no inbound links to the page
3. Create a content removal/redirect plan
Start by identifying which pieces of content need to be removed, then decide how you want to remove them. For example, you can either delete the content completely or redirect it to another page on your website.
If you do decide to remove content from your website as part of your pruning process, it’s important that you set up a redirect. A redirect is a piece of code that tells search engine bots where to go if they try to access a page that no longer exists. This helps to preserve your website’s SEO and prevents you from losing any link equity that the page has built up.
You can set up redirects manually or with the help of a plugin like Yoast SEO for WordPress websites. If you have a lot of pages to redirect, you can also use a tool like Screaming Frog to help automate the process.
4. Notify Google of the changes
After you’ve removed the old content and set up redirects, it’s important that you notify Google (and other search engines) of the changes. You can do this by submitting a sitemap to Google Search Console. A sitemap is an XML file that lists all of the pages on your website, as well as when they were last updated.
If you don’t have a sitemap, you can create one using a tool like XML-Sitemaps.com. Once you have your sitemap, you can submit it to Google Search Console by going to Crawl → Sitemaps in the left-hand sidebar. From there, simply click on the “Add/Test Sitemap” button and enter your sitemap’s URL.
You can also ask Google to re-index your website. You can do this by going to Crawl → Fetch as Google in the left-hand sidebar. From there, enter the URL of the page you want to be indexed and click on the “Fetch” button. Once Google has re-indexed your website, your new content should start appearing in search results.
5. Monitor your progress
Lastly, it’s important that you monitor your progress to ensure that your content pruning efforts are paying off. Keep an eye on your website’s traffic and engagement metrics, at the very least:
Some of the most important traffic metrics to track include pageviews, unique visitors, and bounce rate. You can also track how many people are clicking through to your website from search engines, as well as how often your website is appearing in search results.
When it comes to engagement metrics, time on page and pages per session are two of the most important ones to track. You can also look at things like social shares, comments, and email subscribers.
Improve Your SEO with the Right Content Maintenance Strategy
Creating and maintaining content are two of the most important aspects of any SEO strategy. However, we understand that doing so on a regular basis can be time-consuming and requires extra resources. If you need any help with your SEO and content creation/maintenance, Ilfusion is here for you.
We have a team of experts who can provide you with an expert-level SEO and content strategy that will help you rank higher in search results and drive more traffic to your website. Contact us today at 888-420-5115, or send us an email at [email protected] to get started!Tags: content maintenance, content marketing, content pruning, search engine optimization
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