Removing Desolate Pages that Waste Valuable Link Equity

businessman looking at website content and evaluating web pagesI guesstimate that 90% or more of all active websites and blogs on the Internet could use a content audit RIGHT NOW. And I bet your site could benefit from one as well.

So today I’m going to walk you through one majorly effective step I took when doing a content audit for this website, so I could improve its value to users and overall performance in the search engines.

I maximized the site’s link equity by removing some of it’s least visited web pages.

Should I Be Concerned with My Least Viewed Pages?

I’ve heard some folks suggest it’s a waste of time to worry about old, buried pages on blogs, but I think it really depends on what’s important to you. If monetization is at the top of the list, then It can be extremely helpful. Especially on sites in highly competitive niches, where every bit of link-equity counts. But it can also help any website that needs an extra little boost.

What are you thoughts on it?

By removing some of a site’s least popular pages you can:

  • Improve the Rankings of More Important Pages
  • Improve the Site’s Useability to End Users
  • Improve the Site’s Overall Bounce Rate
  • Make More Money

Finding Your Least-Visited Content

The first thing I look for when doing a content audit of this type is pages that have the lowest number of unique pageviews.

A real easy way to do this is by using your analytics software; I’ll walk you through doing it with Google Analytics.

Log-in to Google Analytics, then:

  1. Browse to Content > Top Content
  2. Set “Advanced Filters” similar to those in the image below

(This a good starting point, but you may want to make some adjustments depending on how your web site or blog is set up.)
google analytics filters for a wordpress blog and web site content audit

Click Apply Filter.

I like to export it to a CSV file at this point so I can modify the data even further by categorizing URLs similar to how the navigation is laid out on my site, and then removing the ones that weren’t caught by Google Analytic’s 9 filter limit.

Once you’re here there are several different ways to adjust your report and work with the data, but the main points of consideration are filtering out pages with more than 50 unique pageviews and the length of historical data used.

I chose 50 unique pageviews as a good starting point, but depending on the type and size of site you’re auditing, more or less may be better to start with. Also, I typically like to go back at least 15 months in case there were any pages that didn’t perform well in a 6 or 9 month report, due to seasonal traffic. In this case I could only go back approximately 8 months due to my available Google Analytics data.

page with low unique pageviews

By looking at the screenshot above, you can see that I was able to quickly red flag content within the first 10 URLs displayed.

Evaluating the Poorest Performing Content

Once I’ve identified my least popular pages as defined by unique pageviews, I then look at several additional metrics for each page before deciding what to do with it:

  • Backlinks a page has and whether they are nofollow or dofollow links
  • Google PageRank of Page
  • Time on Page
  • Bounce Rate
  • Value to Site’s Current Objectives
  • Is the Page Cached by Google

What to Do with the Worst Pages

Now that you’ve completely identified you worst-performing pages and content, it’s time decide what to do with them. If a page has minimal traffic and zero backlinks, then it is probably a good candidate for deletion. However, if a page has minimal traffic and a decent number of quality backlinks, then you may want to keep it, but make it more prominent on your site. You could also improve it, or 301 redirect it to a newer, updated, related page.

I used to redirect all deleted pages to another page on my site using a 301 permanent redirect, even if there wasn’t a good replacement page in place. However, my .htaccess file is getting out of control now, and I’m seeing beyond just using 301s for everything. If I remove a page that has no valuable backlinks and no real replacement page, then serving up a hard 404 error can make great sense.

Just keep in mind, if you delete or redirect any pages, you’re probably abandoning some images and breaking inbound page links from other pages on your website. A site audit tool can help you find your abandoned images and all your broken site links.

This site has less than one-hundred fifty post / pages, and by going through this super quick and easy process I was able to immediately get rid of more than 15 pages of very weak site content, and found over 50 other active pages for further evaluation.

What are your thoughts on deleting old, poor-performing blog posts? Do you delete them, or keep them regardless if it will help your site’s overall optimization or not?

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  • July 10th, 2011 at 10:45 pm Jordan said:

    Last I heard removing existing pages leaving them as a 404 was a bad idea with Google, how does this get around that?

  • July 10th, 2011 at 10:48 pm Jordan said:

    Oh wait nevermind saw this link here: http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2011/05/do-404s-hurt-my-site.html

    I guess what I would do is find out what little traffic it’s getting and capitalize on that would be my primary strategy.

  • July 10th, 2011 at 10:55 pm Wesley LeFebvre said:

    Hi Jordan! Yeah, that make sense. What are some other common ways you would capitalize on them?

  • July 10th, 2011 at 11:00 pm Jordan said:

    I guess the main thing I do is look for keyword rankings they have and if the ranking is on the lower part of the first page or on the second page that it’s getting a small amount of traffic from I focus on improving that ranking.

  • July 15th, 2011 at 12:03 am IT Press Releases said:

    Is there any wordpress plugin which can redirect all of our deleted pages? I am still confused that rather it will negate our repute or not newar search engines.

  • July 17th, 2011 at 12:17 pm Wesley LeFebvre said:

    I have not used this plugin, but have seen it recommended by others I trust. http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/redirection/

  • December 3rd, 2011 at 4:13 pm kevin blumer said:

    What i have found deleting pages off my blog it kills the blog even with redirects working. I suppose a better way of doing it would be to just replace what you are getting rid of first if possible. So what i do now is when a blog gets to big for my site or bulky i just move it to its own site now that seems to have done the trick with my mental health blog i actually get more google traffic as well now and it seems to be a lot better targeted for some reason or other.

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