Don’t neglect spring cleaning your content

Posted on 09. May, 2011 by in Digital Marketing, Thoughts

Let’s face it – in the same way you probably have a cupboard in your house full of boxes and junk, you likely have a few nooks and crannies of your website that don’t get as much attention as they should. Especially if you’ve got a lot of pages and a particularly large site.

It’s tempting to close the door and think you’ll get away with not paying attention to the junk you’ve stuffed in this metaphorical cupboard, but those digital cobwebs and out-of-date pages not only make your site look messy – they can be enough to turn potential customers right off.

Keeping on top of your content

While in an ideal world you’d always be on top of your content, constantly refreshing your copy and making sure you’re on the pulse – this rarely happens in reality. So it’s crucial you don’t neglect your spring cleaning duties: once a year (at the least) you should get the rubber gloves on and start digging deep into your site.

Targeting the pages needing refreshed

Dig deep into your site

Frequently viewed pages tend to stay nice and sparkly, as you naturally pay more attention to them. But this doesn’t mean you can ignore the pages buried deep in your site’s architecture – after all, you can never accurately predict where a user may enter your site.

For example, if you have old pages targeting long tail keyphrases, such as ‘alligator shoes with pink trim’, chances they may rank well for the phrases – meaning people can land on that page straight from search results pages – and if the copy on that page is old and no longer relevant, they are likely to take away a bad impression of you and your site. …And we all know how important first impressions are.

Choosing the content to work on

Task someone (or yourself) with the job of drilling down into all forgotten areas of your site to check whether all pages still accurately reflect your business and services.

Your site analytics can help you work out your ‘top priority’ pages and give you some idea which should be refreshed first. Ask yourself questions like:

  • Do any of your pages seem to have an extremely high bounce rate?
  • Which old pages get the most hits and is the information on them still viable?
  • Can you see users moving through your site then abruptly leaving on specific pages?
  • Alternatively, use our simple method to help in your quest; take Google Analytics (link to our site GA page) for example, navigate to ‘Content’, ‘Top Content’ and change the ‘View’ to ‘Percentage’ to reveal how well your content performs.

    Filter the list to show poor performers – numbers don’t lie – and use that as your starting point.

    Go nuts, include other metrics like conversion and revenue too for a ‘bigger picture’.

    Don’t be tempted to cling onto the junk

    Now, when you do find forgotten pages performing unexpectedly well on search engine results pages, you may be tempted to hold onto them even if they’re out of date. Don’t fall into this trap.

    While results are great, it’s better to make sure you give people what they’re looking for. If they arrive at your site expecting to find the ‘alligator shoes with pink trim’ they’d been searching for, and you no longer stock the product but hold on to the page to better your search rankings, you’ll only be upsetting your customers and potentially losing future sales. One could argue retired, out-of-date content borders on doorway-pages.

    Don’t assume your pages are straight for the scrapheap though, think about remarketing them instead. If you do have ‘junk’ that drives traffic and reviews, you’ll unlikely want to remove it completely – you’re under pressure to meet certain KPIs from your boss. Why not have a look at updating the content without removing it? Re-write the content, include some rich, modern media like a video, and you’ll soon see your ‘junk’ chiselled into a new conversion route. Plus, you’ll be re-using a legacy URI – an old, but not forgotten search marketers’ technique.

    Keep a calendar for your content

    You may already be in the habit of constantly refreshing the content on your site or you may do your best to avoid it, but by setting aside time dedicated to spring (or summer or winter) cleaning all of your content you’ll be making your site a much nicer place for users to spend some time on.

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