The pruning of low-quality content is an SEO ranking technique

I spent most of the day yesterday going through some of the early posts on my blog and deleting them. It took longer than I expected and it was like pulling teeth. There they were words that I had written with some effort, in a style that I really enjoy and I had to send them into oblivion.


Why? Well, because some of those early posts dating back to 2007 and 2008 were written when I had to write in order to get Help My SEO to rank. Much as it pains me to say it they were posts of the sort that had the words ‘SEO’ and ‘search engine optimization’ cleverly inserted into the natural flow of writing with phrases and expressions that made up bulk rather than told a story.


Yep! But creating that kind of content-lite back then worked, so I did it. Although each 300-350 word post did not take me more than 15 minutes to write (and I wrote one a day) the writer in me at least put in the effort to make sure that the posts made sense and that reading through them was not an excruciating experience.

What I did not do, because it wasn’t required, was make sure that every single post delivered critical value to the reader. Although I half-knew that some at least would be read (and going through them I saw there were posts with over 8K hits) I was really writing for Google.

This now thankfully no longer works. Google’s Semantic Search and Panda Update, currently in its 23rd iteration, have made sure that machines now look for quality as much as human visitors which means that it’s best to write for human visitors first and machines a far second, anyway.

It also means that poor quality pages on your website (you know the ones where keywords rather than content are the main driver) can adversely affect a website’s ranking in search even if the site itself is generally ok.

These days I write posts that actually mean something and deliver the kind of practical value I look for in articles when I spend time reading them on the web. If you have a website that is a few years old and have content that dates back to earlier days and less enlightened SEO practices you will do yourself, your visitors and your website’s search ranking a service by going through the old posts, critically examining their content and either updating them to have greater value or simply killing them.

SEO Content Pruning Guide

You know you need to prune content written on your website for purely SEO purposes when:

  • There are articles that are longer than they need to be.
  • Keywords, H1 Headings and anchor text to other pages are more important than the article content.
  • You wrote something quickly and did not even bother checking it for readability.
  • The information contained in the article is older than the hills.

Three Steps to Better Pruning Your Website Content

To prune successfully try the following three steps:

  • Ask yourself if this is the kind of article you would be proud to share in a social network. If the answer is 'No!', kill it.
  • Use Google Analytics to find articles that have little or no visitors and update them or kill them.
  • Check to see if an article is still ranking for the search query you think it should rank for (if not either update it or kill it).

Content takes time to build on the web and good content takes even longer. Content however that simply fails to deliver anything of value is useless irrespective of how long you had it, how many pageviews it has gathered over time or how fond of it you may be.

Now that you know all this, it’s your call.

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