Should I Delete Content or Should I Revise My Posts?

There has been the suggestion made that under performing content should be deleted from a site. This may be hard to do if you have been posting often to your blog, so what strategy should you follow?

I have been working on a website audit for a blog that has been running for three years now. When I began that blog, I was writing for many different sites, and I wanted a home for all of my posts. I did not really want to always be posting on sites that were not my domain. I started pulling posts from other places, and I included articles from ebooks that I had written, but I had not posted on the web. I think that a few business owners may be in a similar position to what I faced: no organic traffic, and you need posts to help generate that traffic.  We begin posting items to have something there. I knew one blogger who was writing about fifty posts a week. Each post was about three hundred words at most, and he did not really say anything significant with any particular post. He claimed he could be writing two hundred a week if he desired. There was a belief that quantity equated quality, but we know better.

    One objective of this audit is to help focus the site to benefit the user. This blog started off with random thoughts about my industry, but the content also reflected useful posts to help others in my industry understand how to use their own websites. Some posts were loosely connected to the main focus of the site, which was my business. The blog grew faster than my static website in developing clients, so I dropped the static site to concentrate on the blog. Problem: all of those old pages that had nothing to do with my business, or posts that never really connected with users. I began to consider if a post has value for my clients to make a determination on the fate of an old post.
    First, how do we find which pages did not connect with the users. For posts that do not meet the focus of the site is easy. I have a real estate site, so writing a review of  file transfer protocol software does not fit. I am using WebSite Auditor from the SEO Power Suite for my audit. I think having this application is beneficial when working on your own website; however, you may have other options, such as Google Analytics or maybe a toolbar on your browser to check your Google PageRank number for each post. If you have an old post with no PR value, that post is not adding anything to your site. Currently, I am using Firefox as my main browser with the Swoosty SEO Tools extension to check the PageRank while using my browser, but there are other plug-ins to fit your needs. However, if you are running a blog with 500 urls to check, going to each one is not a great plan. To narrow down the list, we can use Google Analytics (GA). In the older version of GA on the standard reports, go to the Content section, then go to the Content by Title. In the newer version of GA, go to Content Overview, where you will find a report for Page. These reports provide information in slightly different ways, but the two bits of data that you need can be found in either report: page title and number of visits. With a larger site, you will have some work to do. You want to compare the list from the GA report (which you can download) to a list of your pages and posts that you will get from your site. Any page or post that has no to very little traffic needs to be checked for PageRank. Note: new posts do not automatically have a PR value, and could have low traffic due to not being indexed yet, so for now, we can leave out newer posts from the delete bin.  After our comparison, we have a list of low perfoming pages. (If you do not have time, or are just being lazy, you could just use pages or posts with low traffic from GA reports, but you will miss out).
    Second, analyze our findings by going to read the page. I would start with older posts that have no PR value. This will give us the pages most in need of help. If you want to decrease the list further at this point, go to the posts that have the least amount of traffic. Now, what should we be looking to find? Here your knowledge of a site may lead you to a problem faster. For example, on one site I had a breakdown of the standards of practice for my profession. Each section of the standard had its own post. Some of these posts had no traffic and no PR, but they complimented the other posts, that were obtaining some traffic. I combined these ten posts into one long post. All of the information was still on my site, which I wanted, and the little traffic from each individual post was bundled together, which made the post more popular. Yet sometimes, we may discover that there is another reason for the post being ignored. After reading the post, ask yourself: does this post contribute to the goal of the site? Does the post benefit my users? If it does, then keep the post. You will have to work on it. If the post does not, then you will want to delete it. You will need to take another step once deleted: add a redirect. The post may have been indexed, or you may have a link pointing to it, so adding a redirect will help users. Where do you send the redirect? Some of my non-performing posts had a duplicate in a pdf on my site, so I redirected to the page with the pdf, and included an explanation to users why they are on that page. In another instance, I had a better post detailing the same facts, so I sent users to that page. In the case of the combining of posts into one, I added redirects from the old urls to the url of the new post. I do not want the users to end up on a 404 Error page; I do want them to find something beneficial if they did need to go to that deleted post.
    Third, I begin work on the posts that I want to keep. We begin with an examination of the title. On a gardening blog, I have a post with a whimsical title “The Habenero Thief”. The post does teach a lesson, but mainly the content is retelling a cute story about my youngest child and her garden adventure. What lesson is hidden about the post in the title? Is there any indication that the post deals with a child’s misadventure in the garden? A user who has bought into my writing will click on the post link, because they trust me, but how is the random user to know if the post is for them? If the user cannot determine the point, a search bot cannot figure it out either. I have a problem that I will slap on a working title on a post that reminds me of the content, but this title will not help anyone else. My intention is to change the title once I post, but there are times that I forget to change the title. Sometimes the title of two different posts are so similar, that a user will not know that the second posts contains new information that they may want. A title change may be all that you need. After checking the title, I do look to see if I have other posts that touch upon the same subject.  If two posts deal with the same subject matter, I may combine the content of the two posts. I have found blog posts that I wrote four years ago that express the same ideas of a post that I wrote last year, but there may be a bit of information which is not in the newer post. In this scenario, I delete the low performing post, while incorporating any unique information into the better performing post. If the post does not reflect any other post, then I rewrite the content. While reworking the post, I keep in mind how I can provide the user with this information that they will need. I discover ways to highlight what is important in the post for the user (here, we are guessing what the user may take away from the post, but remember, they may be coming to the post for a different reason). The last thing that I look at is the meta data for a post. Did I include the right tags? Do I have a good description of the post? And, if you still use the keyword meta, are the keywords appropriate? (note: Google does not look at this keyword meta, but Bing does).
    Fourth, promote the new or revised post. You need to do a little post marketing. Sharing a link to the post on Twitter or Facebook will help get the word out (Search bots also seem to recognize the updates faster when a post is tweeted), or however you prefer letting users know about a post. Simply revising the title or post is not enough; you have to market these pages.
    Lastly, keep track of what is happening to the new or revised post. As mentioned previously, the post will not obtain a PR automatically when published. You have to follow this for a while. Traffic may not be the best either, yet this is the number you should watch in the beginning. If the post is receiving more traffic than the older version, you know that you are on the right track. If the post is gaining more views, you are good, but what if the post still is dragging? We need to re-evaluate the post. Check for similar posts from other sites that are doing well in the search results. If you feel that your post adds a point of view or data that these others do not, you may want to keep it, but study the other posts before rewriting your own. If the other sites do a better job at providing information, then you should probably delete the post. Like your business, you want your website streamlined to help the user. Do not encumber the site with content that no one is reading.   

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