The foundation for many companies’ search engine optimization (SEO) campaigns is a strong, regularly updated blog. Most times, businesses employ copywriters to develop blog posts on a variety of topics related to their industry (and relevant to their customers) as a part of their SEO strategy. The blogs offer an opportunity to optimize for a wide variety of specific keywords while simultaneously boosting their authority.
But there’s a point where these weekly (or more frequent) posts begin to grow overwhelming and stop adding value to the campaign. In fact, lots of brands that have been practicing SEO (and/or blogging) for years, end up missing out on their true potential because their blog has gotten so unwieldy.
Thankfully, with the help of a content audit and a plan to reorganize your work, you can maximize the value of your existing content and simultaneously set yourself up for a better future.
Why Excessive Blog Content Works Against You
You might be wondering how content could possibly be a bad thing. After all, each post hypothetically adds value to your site. But over time, with an excessive number of posts, you’ll lose value in a few notable ways:
- Obsolete content. Obsolete or outdated content can work against you if it provides readers with incorrect information. It can also rest neutrally in a kind of blogging purgatory if it’s no longer relevant; for example, “The Best Apps to Look Forward to in 2015” may be a great piece of content on its own, but nobody’s going to go out of their way to look for it.
- Content made with lower or different standards. If you’re like most search optimizers and bloggers, your standards have increased over time, and you’ve gotten genuinely better at blogging. Standards for your initial posts may have been lax, with low minimum word counts, little attention to article structuring and little (if any) keyword strategy guiding your content decisions. Revisiting those old posts and bringing them up to date is a better strategy than leaving them as is and simply hoping for them to bring some marginal value to your site.
- Confusing navigation. Generally speaking, websites perform better and make visitors happier when they’re simpler — when they have fewer URLs, fewer posts and fewer places for users to get lost. If you have 1,000 URLs from your past blogs, you can practically guarantee no user will ever visit all of them, meaning some (or most) of them are dead weight. You’re better off reducing those 1,000 URLs to a clean 100, or even 50 and maximizing the value of the URLs that remain.
- Redundancy and cannibalization. If one of your top goals is getting more traffic from search engines, what good will it be if you have four different articles all competing to rank for the same search query in Google? It’s much better to combine these four similar posts into one focused piece that’s more likely to reach rank one—or else change the targeting of three of these posts so they can rank for other, less competitive terms. You don’t want to cannibalize your own search traffic.
Conducting a Content Audit
The first step of addressing the problem is conducting a content audit, which will help you determine which of your posts are working for you and which ones are under-performing. With the help of Google Analytics, Google Search Console and whatever other analytics tools you want to use, generate a sitemap and study your individual blog posts in terms of performance metrics like:
- Organic and referral traffic. Organic traffic is a measure of how many visitors you’ve generated from user searches, while referral traffic represents your number of inbound visitors from external links. Both are indirect measures of your blog’s visibility and direct measures of its impact.
- Search rankings. You can use search engine ranking reports to determine not only the performance of each post but whether that post’s rankings interfere with the ranking potential of other posts.
- User behavior metrics. It’s also worth investigating user tendencies as they relate to individual posts. Are there some onsite pieces that are much more likely to convert than others? How much time do readers spend on this page?
Flag any posts that don’t seem to be performing well, as well as posts competing for the same keywords and topics that look like they may be obsolete.
Trimming and Refitting
Some posts have no better fate than to simply be deleted, but most of your posts should be able to be repurposed. Any posts that are getting zero traction, or ones that are no longer relevant to your brand deserve to be thrown out.
If other posts seem like they have potential—an interesting topic, well-written content, or appeal to your demographics—set them aside. There are three ways you can breathe new life into these high-potential historical posts:
- Updating. Updating is the simplest and quickest option and it’s the most effective for posts that are simply out of date. For example, if you wrote a post about the “Future of Content Streaming Services” in 2010, you’ll probably have a lot to catch up on. Specifically dated posts, like “The Safest Cars of 2014” are hard to update but generally outdated posts need to have their information rechecked and reevaluated. If you have prediction posts or analysis posts that haven’t aged well, like a post about how the superhero film industry has no future, from 2008, the best course of action may be to get rid of them.
- Expansion. If an older post is thin, or if it doesn’t cover a topic comprehensively enough to stand on its own, you could try expanding it. Add more facts, more examples and complementary forms of content like photos and videos to flesh it out. Depending on the topic, you may be able to add more subsections too.
- Reorganization and combination. This is the most intensive strategy, but ultimately the most rewarding. The idea is to take separate posts with somewhat related topics, then stitch them together into a bigger, more comprehensive post. For example, if you have individual posts on “How to Learn Scales on Guitar,” “The 7 Most Important Guitar Scales,” and “Exercises for Mastering Scales as a New Guitar Player,” you can feasibly combine them into a single, in-depth article. To do this, you’ll need to spend some time editing, filtering out redundancies and tweaking the language so all your material flows easily together. When you’re done, you can choose a title that best fits the overall topic and start dominating the rankings for that keyword phrase.
Re-conceptualizing Your Strategy
This is also a good time to re-conceptualize your overall strategy. Which keywords and phrases are most important for you to target? What kind of blog categories do you want to host? How long will your posts be in the future and how often are you going to publish? Remember, quality matters much more than quantity these days; it’s better to have a handful of target phrases and publish amazing posts periodically than to try and cover tons of topics with new posts every day.
Once your site navigation is cleaner, your blog is more focused, and your under-performing content posts are cleaned and reassembled, your site’s performance should improve dramatically. If you carry these new standards forward in your subsequent efforts, you’ll likely see continuing returns for the foreseeable future.