People who plant grapes in a vineyard have an activity called pruning. In it, they remove small grapes from a bundle, giving room for the other grapes in the bundle to grow. As a result, the grapes are juicer and the wine tastes better.
Content pruning in your blog works the same. You remove or delete some blog posts or paragraphs that do not generate traffic, which causes your rankings to drop. As you know, Google loves websites that provide value and great user experience.
But how does it help your on-page SEO? Here are some of the ways:
- Pruning Removes Obsolete Content
- Pruning Makes Efficient Use of Crawl Budget
- Pruning Organizes Your Content Clusters
- Pruning Helps You Fix Broken Links
Let us jump in and find out how content pruning can improve your on-page SEO!
Pruning Removes Obsolete Content
Obsolete content is a post that is no longer relevant. This is highly subjective, as each niche has different content. An example is a product that is no longer being offered. For example, you have a page that offers the specifications of Nokia 5110.
The thing is, no one looks for that anymore. And because that page is not driving traffic, it can affect the search rankings of your entire website. But for some, this content is still valuable, especially if they are running a website that serves as a museum — like Wikipedia.
Wikipedia has no reason to remove that content. Someone is always bound to look for information about that, but with no intention to buy. If you are running a smartphone online store but you are no longer selling this product, you have to take it off.
Another example is a cure. If your blog title is “There is no cure for AIDS”, you need to take off that blog if scientists have now found the cure. The same thing goes for legal and financial advice, or in any industry where new discoveries have overturned the current popular consensus.
Pruning Makes Efficient Use of Crawl Budget
Crawl budget refers to the number of times that Google will visit your website and index it for the day. Your website may have hundreds or even thousands of pages, but Google is not going to crawl all of them on a daily basis.
So how many times does Google do this? It depends. The Google spiders may crawl your website between six times and four million items a day!
No one really knows the actual crawl budget of Google per website per day, but suffice it to say that if it does, it does not read everything on your website.
If you have content that does not rank, or content that does not add value, you are asking Google to crawl that page, which is a waste of your crawl budget. If you have a website about personal finance, and yet you have blog posts about taking care of a dog, it is not going to help your SEO.
Dog training has nothing to do with personal finance. That kind of article confuses Google. How is it supposed to improve your domain ranking—are you a dog trainer or a personal finance expert?
If Google is confused, it will push down your web pages to a lower ranking. Also, your irrelevant web pages will not be shown to people who make a search because Google is not sure what your business or blog is all about.
If Google does not know how to index your domain expertise, then it does not know what to do with your blog.
Pruning Organizes Your Content Clusters
A content cluster is a group of content that belongs to an area. Let us say that you are operating a website about dogs, then one cluster can be dog training.
A content cluster allows you to use similar keywords and categorize articles of the same nature. Once you have pruned obsolete content, you can start reviewing the remaining content and put them in categories.
The next step to this is creating the clusters by targeting similar keywords. In our example, you can use keywords like “dog training”, “leash training”, “crate training”, and so much more.
Once you have clustered tor content, you can apply these keywords to the existing post that you want to use, and Google would re-index these pages. Your users are also going to click these links because of their relevance to what they are looking for.
If you have obsolete content, this content doesn’t belong to clusters, and Google wouldn’t know how to place them. They also have no value to your SEO because you cannot add internal links to them.
Besides, if a person finds an article about dog training exercises, and it has a link to an irrelevant article called personal finance, that internal link to personal finance will never be clicked.
It adds no value to your website, and the site visitor’s session time is going to be shorter. The post about the dog training is also going to be the page from where the customer bounced.
You do not want your site visitors to bounce. You want them to stay. The longer they stay, the better your internal SEO is going to be. Google would know if your site visitors are consuming your content. If they are, Google would rank you higher.
Pruning Helps You Fix Broken Links
If you are going to delete posts, will this not result in broken links? Yes, it will, and this gives you an opportunity to fix broken links leading to the deleted posts.
The trick here is to either use 301 redirects on these broken links, redirecting those links to a fresher and better content or completely remove the links altogether.
A broken link is a link that leads to nowhere. If a site visitor clicks on a broken link, he would see an “Error 404”, and this site visitor is going to bounce. The more people bounce, the more you would hurt your Google rankings.
A broken link also normally happens if you link out to other websites. A content pruning exercise allows you to validate if these links still work. If they do, you can leave out the links. If they don’t you need to replace that link.
Google frowns on broken links. Site visitors do, too. If you prune your content, you would not just remove or delete old blog posts, but you would also go through the exercise of deleting paragraphs and links from other blog posts that you are going to retain.
Content pruning is not just an exercise of deleting blog posts that are old. Content pruning is also an activity where you remove parts of important blogs because these parts are no longer relevant. Pruning also means removing broken links that harm your SEO.
Pruning must be done every year or every two years, or when it is necessary, especially if you are in a highly flexible niche such as politics or news. If not, pruning needs to be done every couple of years.
Before you prune your content, you need to analyze if it is the right thing to do. What that means is that you must know if that content is driving traffic or not, or if it is still relevant to your business or not.
Content pruning can damage your website, so approach this activity with caution and with data-driven decisions.