Content pruning is a vital step in any content audit, because it lets you see what kind of content works best for your site and doesn’t leave readers fatigued by an excess of similar articles. The more focused traffic that comes through your door from search engines, the better your conversion rates, and ultimately, the more sales you make. Content pruning helps with SEO, thanks to its focus on fresh content creation and elimination of underperforming pieces.
The first step when planning a content audit or a site redesign is deciding which elements you want to keep and which need major work (or are simply surplus. Your next step is finding new keywords and topics that will draw additional traffic to your site.
Once you have identified new content opportunities, you can set your writing schedule and begin the content implementation phase. By following a tight process and identifying content opportunities that will bring in traffic, you will continue seeing organic growth in the months and years to come.
Below are 37 reasons why content pruning is an important part of your online marketing strategy:
Increases Trustworthiness in the Eyes of Search Engines and Users
The most likely users to visit your site are people who have already been searching for a solution to their problem and have found you. They want to know that you know what you’re talking about, so they will use a number of criteria to judge whether or not you’re trustworthy enough for them to show up on your site. They may look at things like your page’s quality, does it contain spammy text, is its quality high enough, and do they care about what you have to say? If you don’t nail down the specifics such as these, your technical SEO is not going to make much of a difference.
Other things like customer reviews, content length and quality—and yes, content pruning—can all impact your website from a credibility point of view. A content audit is a great way to establish and improve the credibility of your website and bring it closer to zero threshold for risk taking in the eyes of your potential consumers.
Improves Page Load Speed
One thing that search engines don’t like very much is having to wait too long on pages with irrelevant content. If you have lots of articles that are not receiving enough traffic, you can eliminate them without hurting any SEO campaign by redirecting that traffic through related posts or static links back up to the main menu. This helps with user experience optimization efforts as well, since fewer clicks are required to reach the end goal.
Keeps Search Engines Happy and Improves Crawlability
By engaging in content pruning, you end up improving your crawlability by getting rid of pages that don’t make sense in your overall website architecture. By removing pages that don’t make sense, you create a more cohesive and comprehensive resource that Google will be more apt to call an authority on your topic. Make sure your content audit identifies and prunes weaker pages in favor of stronger ones.
Helps Improve Client Service Levels
By having more content related to popular topics, you are able to meet the needs of your visitors better. When people think they have found a service that can help them solve their problem quickly and easily, they are likely to leave glowing reviews, which also come in handy during content pruning campaigns.
Reduces Website Maintenance Costs
If no one is reading your old content, it’s safe to remove it from the site without harming SEO or the user experience. You can identify this old content in Google Analytics by seeing whether or not it shows up through any visits that may have occurred in the past. If these visits do not reach an established required threshold, you may want to remove this content and redirect the URL to the most relevant page.
Increases Conversion Rates by Freshening Up Your Site
The fewer clicks required for someone to reach a particular resource on your site, the higher the chances of converting them into being a new customer. Content pruning—executed strategically—can help potential consumers navigate your site earlier, and arrive on pages that are refreshed with higher-quality content than your site may have had previously. By working to improve existing content and removing content that no longer works, you keep your site fresh and interesting for potential consumers.
Helps With Site Navigation
This is an overlooked benefit of content pruning. By removing articles that get too little traffic, you can cut back on the main menu’s length and save space for higher performing articles (or completely remove those underperforming sections from search engine results altogether). Either way, the end result is similar: you can enjoy the benefits of having fewer articles, but higher-quality ones that will result in the conversion of your readership into paying customers.
By reducing the number of articles, you can move links around and make them more accessible without wasting any space, and it will be easier to develop a prioritized architectural hierarchy. Not only is this useful aesthetically, but also for search engine optimization purposes: when someone reaches a page on your site from Google and has to scroll through multiple pages before finding what they’re looking for, they probably will not be inclined to go back again in the near future. On the other hand, an easier navigation system that allows your readers to find things easily could—very quickly—result in repeat business.
Helps Website Owners Move Towards Established Goals
By knowing which content best fits your site’s needs, you are better prepared to make those tough decisions about which pieces of content need to be removed or reworked. Even if you don’t end up getting rid of everything, a good content audit will at least allow you to see what you have done well and what might need improvement. It also helps to establish a baseline of where you are now, so you know where you need to go later.
Provides You With a List of Content to Promote
There are many ways to promote your content, including social media sharing, search engine optimization, blog commenting and blogging. Content pruning provides an existing list of proven content that can be used to make it easier to share or optimize more quickly and effectively.
Allows You to Prioritize Higher Quality Content
You do not necessarily need many pages of content to rank well in search results. You want your content to be cohesive, not full of fluff, and of a suitable length to cover your topic comprehensively. Your site should underline what it’s best at and promote those things by linking internally to the most effective content available.
Reduces the Time and Opportunity Costs of Link Building
All else being equal, a longer piece of content could result in more people reading that content, and could result in that content going viral. It will also be more likely to earn natural links from other websites, because it becomes a page that people across your industry will reference more often. Because of these points, engaging in content pruning on a regular basis (assuming your site did not have a solid content strategy to begin with), is a great way to cut the fluff and keep the focus on your great content.
Helps You Find Valuable Content
Content pruning is a great way of making sure that your content always stays at the top of its game. By finding your most valuable content, you ensure that your readers always have an opportunity to find and consume that content easily. This valuable content needs to stand out from the crowd and inspire new visitors to leave their opinion about your services or products. Finding those items during a content audit is much easier than searching randomly for it in hopes that it might get found by someone else first.
No Need to Worry About Duplicate Content
If you have a lot of sub-domains or other pages that are linked from within your website, it can sometimes be difficult to know which ones contain duplicate content. When you reduce the number of general topics covered by each post, those problems become much easier to spot, and deal with accordingly.
Provides More Diversity in Traffic Sources
By knowing who comes to your site and what they are looking for, you can more easily promote the content that will most likely appeal to them. Getting traffic from multiple sources helps your rankings in search engines and provides a better user experience for those visitors who do not read your blog regularly. Content pruning allows you to identify these traffic sources and pump up the diversity of these sources within your website’s prioritized architectural hierarchy.
Helps Other Bloggers Evaluate Their Content
If you work with another blogger on mutual topics or collaborate with co-workers at your website—either through private sharing or a larger website administration panel—it’s easier to see which posts have been successful and which ones need reworking or deleting altogether. And, you don’t have to give away all the secrets behind your website. Just point them to your menu, and you can show them content that has worked well. This will help them better be able to write content that fits your requirements more often.
Saves Server Space
When websites get too large, they may run into problems when trying to load under certain circumstances. Cutting back on the length of articles is an easy, efficient way to reduce costs and stay within the storage capacity of your hosting provider.
Helps Your Content Get Found More Easily
No matter how well written or optimized, certain pages that are located deep within a website may not get as much attention from search engines. Reducing the number of articles by placing them more prominently can help you encourage visitors to read your articles right away instead of having to hunt for them later on.
Improves the User Experience
If you’re trying to reach new customers and tell them about what makes your site great, there is no need to confuse or frustrate them with too many choices. Grouping related items underneath one post title helps users do their research and find exactly what they’re looking for, even if it’s only one specific topic.
By providing users with more content related to specific search terms, you are showing Google that your site is relevant and useful. This can not only mean more traffic from different sources, but also better rankings for the rest of your website in general.
Helps Avoid Duplicate Content
By keeping articles on similar topics together, it’s possible to avoid getting multiple pages filtered by a search engine for using the same or similar text over and over again. Duplicate content may result in lower positions if it isn’t dealt with correctly. But, it’s important to note here: there is no duplicate content penalty. It’s a filter, as Google explains:
Google does not penalize for duplicate content. In other words, Google wants to show the most unique, highest-quality version of an article to their readers. If your article is too similar to other articles on the same topic, Google might not include it in their search results.
Helpful When Editing a Large Volume of Content
Depending on how many posts you already have on your own site, a complete pruning might take some time to accomplish. By grouping similar articles together before you make any changes, it will be easier to spot items that need re-working or deleting altogether. This can save you a lot of time and effort later on. This is usually called a topical hub. The hub would be the main topic of that section, with spokes from the hub being pages for that section. Creating a hub-and-spoke type of website architecture can help you from this organizational perspective.
Helps Format Your Blog in a More Interesting Way
If you are concerned about the overall look and feel of your website, content pruning is for you. Not only does this help align certain aspects of formatting to individual writers or types of topics, it also makes posts much easier to read by eliminating clutter and making your content as concise as possible.
Helps Eliminate Redundancy
Redundancy in information may confuse users if they find two different routes pointing to the same topic when searching for answers. Problems such as this can be further exacerbated by poor content pruning. To prevent this from happening, make sure you re-read each article before publishing it on your site, and make sure that you have an organized content pruning process with one person in charge.
This helps avoid the “too many cooks in the kitchen” syndrome, where everyone may have a different opinion on what needs to happen with the site. It’s not that everyone else is wrong, it’s sometimes that there are multiple solutions to the same problem. In order to avoid problems with scope creep (along with drama) having a clearly-aligned schedule with clearly-assigned tasks works wonders.
Gives Writers Room to Grow
Allowing new contributors to develop their own writing skills and posting style also means that they do not need to sound exactly like other writers. This helps them develop their own voice and build a reputation for themselves while still making the website more interesting overall.
Helps Take Better Advantage of Search Engine Optimization
By adding related keywords and phrases beneath titles, users are more likely to find what they are looking for when using search engines. Not only does this help you reach interested readers more easily, but it also makes it easier for Google to identify your site as a useful resource. It’s important to note though, that meta descriptions (the page text appearing beneath page titles within the Google search engine results pages) are not used for ranking.
Helps You Become Less Confusing
Even if your content is always factual and relevant, writing about too many topics at the same time can be confusing. By grouping similar articles together, it becomes easier for readers to identify what they want without becoming overwhelmed with options.
Keeps On-site Search Results Neat
Sometimes when articles are scattered across multiple pages or categories, it can become difficult for visitors to find exactly what they’re looking for in the search results page. Helping users reach an article more quickly by placing them in the same location will also help improve your rankings while making sure that users aren’t distracted from other content on the page.
Can Help You Find a New Audience
Once you have pruned your content and updated your site, it’s possible that you may attract new customers. If you are already dealing with a large number of visitors, this can be especially helpful.
Helps Users Find Information Faster
Even if readers are trying to find something that is not directly related to another topic on the same site, grouping these similar articles together will help them do so much more quickly. This could also potentially lead to increased traffic from links or searches for other topics written by you and others who contribute posts as well.
Can Make Articles More Memorable
In some cases, people visit your website because they remember reading about a specific topic before or seeing it mentioned elsewhere. By grouping related articles together, you can make your content much more memorable to users, which will help them visit again and make it easier for them to find what they need.
Poor content organization can lead to a variety of repercussions. Not only does this cause confusion for users attempting to find what they are looking for, it may also affect search engine rankings depending on how well the site is indexed in the first place. By arranging related posts together, however, it becomes much easier to identify missing or duplicate information as well as quickly update old files.
Helps Prevent Broken Links
One way that many websites break from time to time is when too many things come and go at once. This disrupts the user experience and makes links outdated in a hurry. Finding these faulty references before your readers do can be difficult; grouping similar articles together helps you locate and prevent these problems before they occur.
Helps Reduce Editing Time
If your content is disorganized, it’s much harder to edit because you may find yourself writing about something that was already covered in a previous post. By pruning your archive, however, you can go back and fix these issues with ease.
Can Make Articles Easier to Share
Grouping related posts together not only makes them more memorable for users starting out on their search for information, but this also makes sharing easier as well. This means that others will likely pass the link along to friends or family members who might be interested in what you have written as well.
Improves Your Own Site Usability
Having to read the same content over and over again can drive people mad. By having a system in place which groups similar posts together, it becomes much easier for you and other readers to find exactly what they are looking for without getting distracted by everything else that you have already written. This is especially helpful to those who are just learning about your website as well because it makes it less likely that they will be overwhelmed with too much information at once.
Can Help Improve Your Ranking on Search Engines
If you are struggling to get a handle on all of the content that is currently posted on your site, it can be very difficult for people to find anything worthwhile. This leads to lower traffic and poor rankings overall. By reducing this number, however, it becomes much easier for users to locate the information they have been looking for in an appropriate manner.
Content Pruning Can Help Create Efficiency and Higher-Quality Output Overall
By creating an effective and efficient content pruning process, you can work on pruning the less effective pages from your site, and work on making sure the higher-quality pages include better focus.
As you work through the process, making sure that your content continues to be improved and worthy of inclusion is critical.
Content pruning is a crucial endeavor for maintaining a healthy website experience both for your visitors and for search engines.
If you have never done a content audit before, it’s about time!
How do you plan on taking advantage of content pruning on your own site?