How good is your content, really?
Is it really “high quality?”
Even if you've put a lot of time, effort, and money into a lot of it, there's a chance that somewhere on your website, some older, subpar content is lurking in the shadows.
Maybe you've gotten a lot better at writing over time, and your old posts are awful compared to the content you're producing today.
Maybe you had some not-so-great writers early on when you started the project, and today, you're working with professionals of a higher caliber.
If there's low quality content present somewhere on your website, it could actually damage your ability to rank in Google and get organic search traffic. So if SEO is a major part of your content promotion strategy, you may want to go back and audit your blog.
Some content isn't terrible, just kind of mediocre. Maybe it's not written all that well, or it's kind of shallow and fluffy.
Some of that can be fixed up, updated, and kept on the site.
You may find other content that's just plain unsalvageable.
That, you'll want to delete.
In a recent Whiteboard Friday post, Rand Fishkin of Moz explains what metrics you should use to find and eliminate low quality content.
THESE can be a good start:
So what I'm going to urge you to do is think of these as a combination of metrics. Any time you're analyzing for low versus high quality, have a combination of metrics approach that you're applying.
1. That could be a combination of engagement metrics. I'm going to look at…
- Total visits
- External and internal
- I'm going to look at the pages per visit after landing. So if someone gets to the page and then they browse through other pages on the site, that is a good sign. If they browse through very few, not as good a sign, but not to be taken by itself. It needs to be combined with things like time on site and bounce rate and total visits and external visits.
2. You can combine some offsite metrics. So things like…
- External links
- Number of linking root domains
- PA and your social shares like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn share counts, those can also be applicable here. If you see something that's getting social shares, well, maybe it doesn't match up with searchers' needs, but it could still be high-quality content.
3. Search engine metrics. You can look at…
- Indexation by typing a URL directly into the search bar or the browser bar and seeing whether the page is indexed.
- You can also look at things that rank for their own title.
- You can look in Google Search Console and see click-through rates.
- You can look at unique versus duplicate content. So if I type in a URL here and I see multiple pages come back from my site, or if I type in the title of a page that I've created and I see multiple URLs come back from my own website, I know that there's some uniqueness problems there.
4. You are almost definitely going to want to do an actual hand review of a handful of pages.
- Pages from subsections or subfolders or subdomains, if you have them, and say, “Oh, hang on. Does this actually help searchers? Is this content current and up to date? Is it meeting our organization's standards?”
[image source: Moz]
Make 3 buckets:
Using these combinations of metrics, you can build some buckets. You can do this in a pretty easy way by exporting all your URLs.
You could use something like Screaming Frog or Moz's crawler or DeepCrawl, and you can export all your pages into a spreadsheet with metrics like these, and then you can start to sort and filter.
You can create some sort of algorithm, some combination of the metrics that you determine is pretty good at ID'ing things, and you double-check that with your hand review.
I'm going to urge you to put them into three kinds of buckets.
I. High importance.
So high importance, high-quality content, you're going to keep that stuff.
II. Needs work.
Second is actually stuff that needs work but is still good enough to stay in the search engines.
It's not awful.
It's not harming your brand, and it's certainly not what search engines would call low quality and be penalizing you for.
It's just not living up to your expectations or your hopes. That means you can republish it or work on it and improve it.
III. Low quality.
It really doesn't meet the standards that you've got here, but don't just delete them outright.
Do some testing.
Take a sample set of the worst junk that you put in the low bucket, remove it from your site, make sure you keep a copy, and see if by removing a few hundred or a few thousand of those pages, you see an increase in crawl budget and indexation and rankings and search traffic.
If so, you can start to be more or less judicious and more liberal with what you're cutting out of that low-quality bucket and a lot of times see some great results from Google.
You can find more great advice for touching up older content over at Moz.