If you’ve been following the “content is king” rulebook for some time, your site should have hundreds (maybe even thousands) of articles. Creating consistent content is a critical part of an overall SEO strategy. However, another critical part is knowing when to revisit that old content.
Not everything will age well. Consider how much SEO has changed in the last five years – an article you wrote on optimization in 2015 is unlikely to ring true in 2020. Of course, some rules are timeless, see “content is king” again, but there have been Hundreds of updates to Google’s algorithm, Facebook image patterns, and site layout settings.
When it comes to old content that no longer works or is out of date, you have three basic options: save and reoptimize it, combine it with like articles or delete it.
How to Perform a Content Audit
Before you do anything else, you need to do a content audit. There are a few different tools that can provide a very good overview of your content and what you are doing:
- Google Analytics
- Google Search Console
- SEO PowerSuite, Screaming Frog, or a similar analysis program
The first two are free, and if you’re not using them yet, you definitely should be. They can provide valuable information on what works and what doesn’t on your site. Seeing things through Google’s eyes offers a significant advantage when it comes to optimizing your site.
You can use Google Analytics to see important metrics like page traffic, time spent on page, bounce rate, and engagement. All of these factors should help you decide what to do with the page. It is important to consider these factors together to evaluate the page as a whole.
While each provides information individually, getting a full view lets you know if a page is popular but not converting, or if the title is misleading and doesn’t lead people to the topic they’re looking for.
The more you understand about your page, the better you can optimize it.
Google Search Console will show you which keywords you are ranking for and which pages are ranking for those keywords.
This information will help you divide your content into three groups: keep, reoptimize/combine, delete.
The Keep Bucket
All articles that rank first or second on the first page of Google should be left alone. These pages are doing their job and are probably very well optimized; you might even want to take a look at them to see what you’ve done differently on these pages.
These articles can be great learning tools. Compare them to each other and see what they have in common. Does a certain theme resonate? Do you use headlines that attract people? Is there better optimization on the back end?
When you know what you are doing well, you can generally use the information to replicate success.
The Rework/Combine Bucket
Pages that used to get good traffic or are currently getting good traffic, but are not converting or have low engagement rates, are ideal candidates for re-optimization, especially if they are on the first or second page of Google.
Usually these pages are missing a few elements that can take them to the top and help them perform better. This is where the analysis of all the metrics comes in. Are people constantly clicking, but jumping off the page too fast? You may need to provide core information higher in your content.
The Delete Bucket
If a page isn’t ranked, has no notable social media shares or backlinks, and basically just occupies real estate, it’s time to either completely rewrite an article on that topic or discard it entirely. However, you must be careful when removing items.
Make sure other sites are not targeting them and that it won’t make a significant difference to your site if you delete them.
Reoptimizing: 6 Quick Tips
This is where a content analysis tool will come in handy. You’ll be able to see your titles, headings, alternate image tags, content length, and other quality metrics. Also, you can see the related keywords and see what you need to adjust to make the content stand out.
The top six things to keep in mind when considering re-optimization include:
Title Optimization: Make sure your title reflects the article and also attracts attention. Keep an eye on the length as well.
Meat and potatoes of the content: a page should be at least 500 words long and contain 2-3 titles. Make sure the content is on topic and up to date. This process is also a great opportunity to dig deeper into the content.
Media: At a minimum, the page should have an image with a relevant alt tag. However, including other media, such as videos or infographics, that complement your content can help you rank higher.
Linking Strategy: Each page should be linked to a relevant and trusted external source, as well as internal pages on your site that make sense. If you don’t have a linking strategy, it’s important to create one.
URL: Your URL should be short and nice and include your keyword. Beware of automatic URL generators.
Create a Super Page: When you have a topic that can actually be expanded to more than 5,000 words, you can start to gain real authority on that topic. Creating a super page will help. This page should include as much information as possible on the subject and include images, videos, or other forms of multimedia. This content must also be able to hold the interest of the reader and ultimately be unique.
Start with these factors. If the page still doesn’t perform well, you may need to dig deeper or consider rewriting it.
When to Combine Articles
Over the course of a few years of writing articles, you will inevitably write very similar articles. The topics may not be exactly the same, but if they are similar enough, combining them can improve your overall authority.
Choose the page that is already getting the most traffic and combine the articles from that page, extracting the content from the other article. Ideally, articles like these will end up with 800-1000 words of high quality and authoritative content.
Make sure to delete the post you extracted to match and create a 301 redirect to the page that you keep.