It is easy to focus so strongly on the future that we forget the past. This applies in life and to our business websites.
As you plan and prepare for all the great things you will do in 2017, don’t forget to take some time to review and improve what you have already put in place. Here are three things you should be doing now to make sure your website is prepared for the new year – starting with some clean up.
1. Performing an In-Depth Link Audit
Links were one of the most important ranking factors in 2016 and they will remain atop the list in 2017. As we wind down 2016, now is a great time to really dig into your site’s link profile and look for links that could be harming your rankings. When looking through your links here are a few things you should look for:
• Referring Domains (RDs) sending hundreds or thousands of ‘do-follow’ links to your site
• Links from de-indexed sites
• Number of RDs containing Keywords in Anchors, not just anchor text ratios
• Links from “weak” sites with poor link profiles, spammy content or no engagement
• Sites using duplicate content, setup for monetization via AdSense or similar ads networks and linking out to sites as a method of traffic generation
We could write a book on all of the things to look for but, the above will help you quickly weed out the worst offenders. Remember SEO isn’t always about being perfect, it is about constantly improving your situation for the better.
2. Review Title Tags and Meta Descriptions
This is dead simple but many people don’t do it. Your website could have several pages that are ranking for long-tail keywords that you are not tracking but, people are not clicking on your page. Your site could also be ranking well for large volume terms and have a bad click-through rate. In either case, you are missing out on traffic as a result. WordStream put together a great resource with Brian Dean of Backlinko, you can learn how to improve your CTRs following the guide. In addition, CTRs are now being measured as a ranking factor so, improving titles and Metas may help improve rankings too!
3. Update or Purge Stale Content
The Internet is littered with content ranging from spun garbage to scholarly publications. Chances are if you have had a website online for at least a year, you have some old posts or pages that never really took off and have very few visitors. Let’s for a moment think of how averages work. Website “a” has 100 pages on their site, 10 of them have a rating of “10” and the other 90 have a rating of “3”. If you were to average that out, the site page average quality score would be 3.7. If you were to reduce the number of pages with a rating of “3” your average would rise. This is the same principle that you should follow when performing cleanup on your existing content, eliminate the low-quality pages and boost your average.
Here is how your thought process should go when determining which pages to update, eliminate or redirect.
DOES THE PAGE CURRENTLY RANK AND DRAW TRAFFIC?
• If Yes: Is the content outdated?
• If Yes: Is there a new post/page about the topic on your website?
• If Yes: Redirect old page to new page/post
• If No: Update the existing page
DOES THE PAGE HAVE STRONG LINKS BUT ISN’T RANKING?
• If Yes: Does the page still have the potential to rank with more links?
• If Yes: Is there a newer page on the site covering the same topic?
• If Yes: 301 redirect old posts to new post/page
• If No: Update the content and resume link building
Is the Page Not Ranking and without Good Backlinks?
• If Yes: Does the page have the potential to rank with new links?
• If Yes: Does the Content Need to be updated?
• If Yes: Is there a newer page on your site covering the topic?
• If Yes: Delete the old page/post and focus link building efforts on the new page.
• If No: Is the content topic of the page still relevant?
• If Yes: Is there enough search volume to justify my efforts of improving this page?
• If Yes: Update the page and resume link building.
• If No: Delete the page.
As I am sure you can imagine, there are a ton of combination of the above questions and just as many outcomes. The point is not to serve as a done-for-you map but rather to spark your thought process on how to determine what to do with old pages. What it all comes down to is will your effort to improve a page result in a positive return on your time, effort or investment. If yes, follow the thinking above to determine how best to handle your pages.