I recently worked with a client to relaunch their website, and as part of the process, the client chose to cull much of its content in an effort to have a leaner site.
Having a lot of content on your site can make content management seem overwhelming, so it’s understandable an organization may want to cut down on the quantity of content to make the effort more manageable overall.
However, be careful what you cut! All too often in organizations, the various stakeholders for the website work in disparate groups or even various agencies, which can have a negative effect on planning and communication. Sometimes search engine optimization is seen as an afterthought, while it should be an integrated strategy throughout the website redesign and life cycle.
In the case of this client, against my recommendations, they accidentally cut out whole pages of content that ranked well for highly trafficked keyword phrases. This led to significant traffic losses — nearly 40 percent of organic traffic year over year — because the client chose to cut pages from the site that were highly trafficked pages from organic search.
Avoid cutting important content
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and that saying holds true for search engine optimization (SEO) as well. It’s much better to follow the best option at the beginning rather than trying to clean up what could amount to big mistakes later.
Before you cut any content from your website, first see how that content performs at driving traffic overall to your website. In Google Analytics, you can use the Channels report, choose Organic Search and look at Landing Page to see which specific pages get the most traffic from organic search. That’s likely to be content you’re going to want to keep, even if you need to redirect it to a new uniform resource locator (URL). If the content is outdated, consider updating it with new details.
Even if you do end up cutting content, remember to 301 redirect that page to an appropriate page so that site visitors (and the search engines) can readily locate the closest alternative.