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Search Engine Journal: https://www.searchenginejournal.com/improve-remove-old-content/300961
February 23, 2011 – Google launched its Panda Update.
Panda was developed to reduce the prevalence of low-quality, thin content in the search results, and to reward unique, compelling content.
At the time Panda launched, user complaints about the increasing influence of “content farms” were growing rampant.
Google’s Panda algorithm assigns pages a quality classification, used internally and modeled after human quality ratings, that is incorporated as a ranking factor.
Websites that recover from the impact of Panda do so by revamping pages with low-quality content, adding new high-quality content, eliminating filler words and above the fold ads, and in general improving the user experience as it relates to content.
In 2016, 130 trillion individual pages on the web. But the Google Search index contains hundreds of billions of webpages – only a portion of the total pages available in the web.
The search engine is filtering out a lot of stuff and you don’t want that to be you.
Google spokespeople have downplayed the idea that “old content won’t hurt you.” They have also warned that removing content is a dangerous SEO strategy.
In October 2015, Gary Illyes said in a tweet, “We don’t recommend removing content in general for Panda, rather add more high-quality stuff.”
A couple years later in October 2017, Illyes said, “It[‘]s not guaranteed that you will see any positive effect from that… For those that don’t show up in the search results, those are not indexed, and if they are not indexed then typically they are not affecting your site.”
In March 2018, John Mueller said, “Improving it means that the rankings can only go up, whereas by removing it, can cause loss of rankings instead of the gains that some people think content removals will do.”
Starting in July 2017, Search Engine Journal started a plan to hack and slash their way through their archives. The results: increased pageviews and organic traffic up over 60%.
Search Engine Journal’s process:
Step 1: Audit Your Content
Created 3 content buckets:
- Content that helps you
- Content that does absolutely nothing for you
- Content that can hurt you
Then they crawled their content.
[will list popular crawlers in the show notes]
After the crawl, here’s what you need to know for each page:
- Title: Is it optimized? Does it include a reader benefit?
- URL: Is it SEO friendly? Do you need to change it?
- Author: Who wrote it? Is it an expert/authority in the field?
- Publication date:Is it still fresh or out of date?
- Number of reads:The more reads, the better. It’s a sign of good content that connected with your audience
- Word count: It isn’t necessarily a sign of low-quality content but it could potentially indicate quality issues.
- Number of links: How many inbound and internal links do you have?
- Trust Flow and Citation Flow: This is Majestic’s metrics for quality score and link equity.
Step 2: Evaluate the Quality of Your Content
Here’s how Search Engine Journal defines quality content:
- Answers Questions
- Solves Problems
Here’s how Search Engine Journal defines low-quality content:
- Has no target audience.
- Has no goal / purpose.
- Is not optimized.
- Is unsuccessful.
On the other hand, Google defines quality content as:
- Useful and informative.
- More valuable and useful than other sites.
- High quality.
A term that also comes up often is E-A-T which comes from Google’s search quality rating guidelines. Simply put E-A-T means:
- Expertise: Your unique skills, information, or knowledge.
- Authority: Other people know about and recognize your skills or knowledge.
- Trust: People believe what you think, say, or do and feel secure buying from or endorsing you.
Google considers content as low quality when it has the following elements:
- Inadequate E-A-T.
- Main content quality is low.
- Unsatisfying amount of main content.
- Exaggerated / shocking title.
- Ads or supporting content distracts from main content.
- Unsatisfying amount of info about website or content creator.
- Mildly negative reputation of website or content creator.
In 2017, Search Engine Journal ran the numbers and figured out that the top 3% of posts on their website drove as much traffic as the bottom 97% combined.
We’re talking about a few hundred posts driving as much as several thousand posts.
Step 3: Determine what to do with your existing content
The final step of this process is making data-driven decisions about whether you should improve (update, rewrite, or consolidate) or remove (deindex) old content from search engines.
There are five possibilities for your content:
Scenario 1: No Changes Needed
You won’t need to change anything in your content if:
- All information is accurate, or has historic value.
- It consistently getsgood traffic and
- It has attracted many quality linksand social shares.
- It ranksin Position 1-3.
- It generates conversions.
If content is already working well for you, leave it alone. Focus on areas where you can actually make gains.
Scenario 2: Content Update / Refresh
Content that needs an update or a refresh:
- Gets consistent traffic(or used to).
- Has earned some valuablelinks / shares.
- Rankson Page 1 of Google.
- Few / no
- Below average
Scenario 3: Content Rewrite
Your content needs to be rewritten if the following apply:
- Currently gets little or no traffic.
- No longer attracts new links / shares.
- Doesn’t rank on Page 1.
- Is it indexed?
- No conversions.
Scenario 4: Content Consolidation
Here are the reasons why you might want to consider consolidating your content:
- You have multiple articles on one topic.
- One piece gets some traffic; others get little or none.
- They do not attract any new links or shares.
- The article is not ranking on Page 1 or…
- The wrong page ranks.
- Two pages are competing on the same SERP.
Scenario 5: Content Deletion / Deindexing
Your content needs to get the boot if:
- It’s “thin content”.
- It’s poorly written / off-topic / syndicated / stolen / plagiarized.
- It has no historic significance.
- It has a very low number of pageviews.
- It has few or no traffic, links, shares, conversions, or engagement.
Will deleting old blog posts hurt your website?
[needs to be done strategically]
- Search Engine Journal: No
- SEO Blog: No
- Yoast: No
- Raven Tools: No; recommends using a WordPress plugin to set a date when your post expires.
- Inmotion Hosting: No
Yes, it will hurt: