Spring is here, and with it comes the tedious, yet rewarding, spring cleaning.
I’ve been holding off watching that Marie Kondo show on Netflix as I haven’t been able to muster the motivation needed to clean and tidy my house properly. For those of you who don’t know, I think the gist of it is a nice lady turns up at your messy house, tilts her head disapprovingly, and tells you to chuck anything that doesn’t spark joy.
This got me thinking about how you could apply these same principles to content on a website. And you don’t even have to move about, or get dirty, or go to the tip to get started. Get ready to spark joy.
I’m guilty of buying the EXACT same thing more than once if I like it, despite not needing it. It’s why I have so many pairs of black jeans. And coats. And eyebrow products. This tendency to double up really only becomes a problem if you live in a small house with limited storage space. Like I do.
Doubling up on your website can become a problem too. Duplicate content is a big no-no. Yeah, copying and pasting the same thing on loads of pages does save time, but what value is it adding? If all the pages say the same thing, why not just have one page? If the things are different, why doesn’t the content reflect that?
If you have pages that are very similar or the same, and there is no way around not having two pages, but you only want one of them to be found in search results, there are a couple of steps you can take to ensure this happens:
Add a canonical tag – this tells search engines that this is the preferred or original source of the content and therefore other versions should be ignored
Add a noindex tag – this will not allow the page to be crawled and so it will not be indexed preventing it from showing up in search results
Ideally though, create unique content for each page of your website.
Spark joy by:
- Consolidating any pages with the same or similar content into a single URL
- Rewriting pages when something is similar, but not the same, to make it unique
- Putting duplication control in place when duplicate content cannot be avoided
Too much of a good thing
If you’re a woman of a certain age, it’s fair to assume that you have likely amassed a fairly sizeable collection of scented candles. Scented candles are brilliant for covering up bad odours but you’d have to be an idiot to light all of them at once because you wouldn’t be able to decide which smell you liked best. Even if you stood right next to each candle, you couldn’t be certain the scent of another one wasn’t creeping up your nostrils. There would be no way of ordering the candle smells in order of preference to decide which to keep and which to give away before you drown in candles.
Check this for a smooth segue: this smelly candle analogy is just like putting the same keywords on loads of different landing pages and making them all compete against each other. This is known as ‘keyword cannibalisation’, and the result is search engines having trouble working out which page you *actually* want to rank. A battle of URLs ensues in which no one is the winner.
It often happens when you have lots of similar products or services. But why say the same thing on three pages when one will suffice?
Spark joy by:
- Seeing which URLs rank for a specific root keyword (primary keyword) and any closely related keywords
- Working out which of those pages you actually want to rank for these keywords
- Changing the keyword targeting on the other pages, or combining the pages into a single URL (making sure you 301 redirect the old pages) so they no longer compete against each other
Spreading it too thin
For no apparent reason, I have a chest of drawers containing about five completely useless items per drawer. I could partly tackle this poor use of space by putting everything in the same drawer. Or what I could do, (and what I actually need to do) is just put all the items in the bin so I can get rid of the chest of drawers entirely, but hey, we’re not here to judge my poor attempt at adulting.
Pages with a low word count are like empty-ish drawers crowding your site. You’ll commonly find them lurking deep in the site when you’ve written copy about something it’s difficult to say very much about. eCommerce sites fall victim to this a lot, especially for less exciting items. I mean, how much can you really say about inner tubes, for example?
Perhaps they’ve been created for the sole purpose of having somewhere to point people, and have cluttered your site over a really long time. Maybe you created pages to announce events you’re attending when you needed somewhere to direct your customers in case they fancied coming along to party on down? Perhaps you run loads of offers that get forgotten about as soon as the promotion is over so those pages just float about in the ether?
There are loads of reasons you can end up accruing a ton of pages with a low word count. And it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to increase that word count on every page. It’s a numbers game: a 100 page site with 50 low-word-count pages is a bigger issue than a 20,000 page site with 250 low-word-count pages.
To find these pages, you can crawl the site with a tool like Screaming Frog (free version will crawl up to 500 URLs), filter by HTML, and then simply sort the data by word count.
Spark joy by:
- Getting rid of these pages if there is no search volume, or work on increasing the word count if there is
- Adding a noindex tag to these pages to prevent them from being crawled and indexed
- Using drop downs to allow users to select different options/spec on e-commerce sites with a lot of similar products, rather than creating loads of pages where it’s almost impossible to write unique or substantial copy each time
Shoved in the back of the cupboard under the stairs
Ever started a craft project with the intention of finishing it at some point even though you know that’s a lie and you’re just going to chuck it in the cupboard under the stairs and forget about it?
This is how your unloved content feels. You put the time and effort into creating it initially but it was never fully complete, and rather than doing something about it, you ignored it. Out of sight, out of mind, right?
The thing is, this content could have potential. It was created for a reason. Why have you banished it to the cupboard under the stairs, you monster? If it’s an important page, it’s time to dust it off, hug it, stroke its hair, give it the attention it rightly deserves.
Spark joy by:
- Revisiting the keyword research – are there better traffic driving terms? Is the page competing with another similar page?
- Rewriting the content so it is better optimised, including variations of the root keyword and closely related keywords as headings (H1, H2 H3 etc.) and throughout the copy
- Getting rid of the page. Sometimes, things just aren’t worth hanging on to. It’s kinder to let them go
Could be great with a bit more effort
The spring cleaning is nearly done. Everything is looking pretty good – no chance of people entering the house and recoiling in horror anymore. What I really want though is for guests to come over and compliment me on what a great job I’ve done and enjoy being there.
Here I come with another sweet metaphor…
Landing pages may attract a lot of visitors, but what if your visitors aren’t as impressed as you expect them to be when they arrive? Sites often have a few really good landing pages, but what if a little bit more effort was put in to make them great?
Review the landing pages that drive a lot of traffic but have poor engagement metrics, then work to improve them for users either by making the content easier to read (both in terms of language and layout), or by making sure the keywords you are targeting meet their expectations.
For pages that are already ranking well, take a look at competitors who are appearing above you, and see if you can make a few tweaks to your content to make it better than theirs. Even a shift of one or two places on page one can result in significantly more traffic!
Spark joy by:
- Finding the pages that get a lot of traffic but have poor engagement metrics through the Google Analytics page view report
- Using Search Console to get a rough idea of what search terms are driving users to these pages
- Taking another look at the content to make sure it’s useful, relevant, and interesting
- Utilising competitor analysis to tweak your content to make it even better
Woah man, look at all this space!
During my last attempt at spring cleaning, I moved a really ugly shelving unit to chuck it, and then realised it was there to cover up a massive hole in the wall. The same principle applies to content – once you start moving it about or binning it off, you might realise there are gaps in your content strategy to be filled.
But fear not! What you’ve discovered is even better than a hole in the wall. You’ve uncovered a whole load of opportunities you may not have discovered if you hadn’t decided to embark on a spring clean.
Spark joy by:
- Analysing your competitors’ content and link profile to work out how much time and resource needs to be invested in targeting new keywords
- Adding the new pages you’ve discovered to a content plan so they can be tackled one by one, and in order of importance
- Building a content strategy to support the new pages. How are people going to find them? How are you going to promote them? Do you need to devise a link building strategy?
- Not just moving furniture around your house to cover up DIY that needs doing
Not many people enjoy cleaning, but hot damn, it’s so satisfying when you see the final result. A content audit is a lot of effort – so be prepared to roll up your sleeves and get busy.
Don’t want to clean it all by yourself? Get in touch with Browser Media, and we will don the Marigolds to give you a hand.