(Not So) Scary Google Updates: Is It Time to Purge Dead Content From Your Website?


Does low-performing content drain the life of your website? Impression’s Nathan Dale explains how to identify it and bring it back to life, in light of the latest Google algorithm updates.

In August and September 2022, Google rolled out two major updates to its core search algorithms. First there was the Helpful Content Update, which was completed on September 9, followed by the September Core Update.

It can be a scary moment when Google introduces an update out of the ordinary, prompting ghoulish cries among digital marketers (OK, maybe not so bad) who worry about what might happen to performance. of their websites.

But really, these updates aren’t that scary at all. Google’s update is meant to reward the good content you produce.

Charity please?

There were two important lines of the Helpful Documentation on Updating Content: ‘Updating generates a site-wide signal. For this reason, removing unnecessary content might improve the ranking of your other content.’

It has long been the opinion of SEO professionals have said that the overall quality of a website is taken into account by Google when ranking individual pieces of content. You could write a great article with detailed information, examples, a how-to guide, and a video for good measure. However, if the rest of your site’s content is low-res, chances are your article won’t perform well in search engine results pages (SERPs).

Is there zombie content lurking on your site?

Web pages without SERP impressions, clicks or traffic are often referred to as “dead content” because they apparently have no life in them, although a more accurate term might be “zombie content” because the page is technically still alive, and search engines might so stumble upon it during a (presumably late night) crawl.

If Google finds this content and classifies it as “unnecessary”, it will also take this into account when ranking your other useful and high-quality content. The more useless your content is, the more likely Google is to think your website provides less overall value to its search results and users.

Take steps to identify and eliminate the poor– Useless, quality content is no longer an “as you go” task to be done during downtime. The helpful content update means this task should now be at the top of your priority list.

There is very little (if applicable) websites that have 100% perfect content on each of their pages. Although Google understands that this is an impossible standard, they would rather invest less time and money in crawling and evaluating content only to realize that it is as useful as a pumpkin. rotten on November 1st.

This is probably why it explicitly asks content managers to remove low quality and unnecessary content.and rewarding sites that do so with potential overall ranking improvements.

LLack of continuity in web content ownership is usually the hidden monster that results in useless content. As web content is inherited by new entrants, passed down across departments, or simply left unattended, chances are you’ll find skeletons in the closet.

How at identify unnecessary content

Identifying underperforming content is simple. One approach is to use Screaming Frog SEO Spider, which can crawl your entire website, a specific directory, or a list of URLs.

In the Screaming Frog configuration menu, select API Access and add your Google Analytics account. Set the Segment to Organic Traffic and the Date Range to Latest 12 months, then your traffic data will be added to the crawl. We advise looking at this over a 12 month period to give a truer picture (e.g. seasonal content might not get clicks in June, but lots in December).

Once the crawl is complete, you will have a list of content with session data displayed in the Analytic tongue. Simply sort from lowest to highest and you will find zombie content haunting your website.

Exorcise dead content (bring him back to life)

Once you identify the content with the weakest session data, you basically have three choices. One: if it has the potential to be made useful, you can update it with new and improved content. Two: Group any useful content into another page on the same topic, then delete and redirect the page. Three: Delete the page entirely.

Note: If you plan to completely remove a content item, you should check the ‘all users’ and ‘pageviews’ in Google Analytics because the page may be found by other means.

For more information on Google’s algorithm updates, see Impression’s search industry update blog series.


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