Is it Time to Clean Out Your Content Clutter?

Are you a participant in the annual spring cleaning movement? Okay, so giving your house a super-deep cleaning treatment each year (during spring or some other time) isn’t exactly a movement. But it is something a lot of us do. There are tons of benefits to spring cleaning. You clean in places you were too cold to be bothered with during the winter, you help fight against allergies and other health issues, and more important for our topic here, you get rid of clutter: things you haven’t used in a long time that should be thrown away or donated to charity. In your home or office, cleaning and getting rid of clutter can keep you healthier, alleviate anxiety, and even promote creativity. When it comes to your company website’s old content, identifying and removing clutter also has deep and surprising benefits. So what is “content clutter,” why should you sweep it out the door, and how can you do some spring cleaning on your business blog or website? Let’s answer those questions, one at a time.

What is Content Clutter?

Simply put, content clutter is any content on your site that doesn’t (or doesn’t anymore) pull its own weight. Content clutter falls into four basic categories.

Content duds. Sometimes the best content creation intentions don’t yield the fruit you hoped for. Some content assets, or entire arcs of assets, don’t perform nearly as well as you’d hoped. They attracted very little traffic, they didn’t create reader engagement, or they just fell flat. And there’s little hope they’re going to perform ever.

Redundant content. Many B2C and B2B blogs revolve around a relatively small number of topics and keywords. So it’s completely understandable that you may talk about the exact same thing again and again. If you have a new article published this year about a certain topic, the articles from last year and two years ago about the same thing may start to become redundant.

Outdated content. Even worse than repeated content topics, many topics change so quickly that timely information or advice from some months ago may be just plain wrong now. You may have several articles published on your company’s site over the last few years that actually contradict each other if you don’t clean your clutter.

Outdated content types. Sometimes, the actual meat of a content asset is still just as timely as it was when it was published, but the format you used for those assets may be a bit outdated. For example, Google once rewarded smaller (500 word) articles published regularly. Now, longer, more extensive and valuable articles get far more Google love. So what about all those old articles you published in years past, at 500 words a pop? They aren’t as useful as they once were, at least for SEO, so they are clutter. But why should you consider removing clutter from your company website? Why not just leave it where it is? Is it hurting anyone if it’s filed away in the archive section of your website?

Why Remove Clutter?

Content clutter may, in fact, be hurting your company in ways you did not expect. For example, outdated information that was once good but now is wrong may be turning away readers from your brand. If you discover a new brand through an outdated article, are you likely to give that company the benefit of the doubt and search within the site for more recent articles, or will you simply return to Google and keep looking? Most people do the latter.Not only does removing content clutter help keep you site fresh and up-to-date; it can also actually boost your traffic. In one great example, shown in this article, one website deleted 35,000 web pages from their site and nearly doubled their traffic and engagement as a result. To be clear, removing content clutter doesn’t always mean deleting old articles from your company website. You can also update them to make them more relevant and profitable for you. How can you do that? Keep reading!

How to Clean Out Clutter, in 5 Easy Steps

So how can you clean out the clutter from your company website? Follow these steps.

Step 1: Do a complete content inventory. Identifying and listing every piece of content your brand has on the internet may seem like a daunting task, but it is a necessary step. You need to take stock of what you have before you can do anything.

Step 2: Do a content audit. This is where you analyze each content asset in your inventory, based on agreed-upon metrics. You need to know which assets are performing in ways that are relevant to your business goals. Which articles still drive traffic, even years later? Which articles are still accumulating comments or getting shared and re-shared on a regular basis? You also need to find which ones are underperforming. Try to figure out why those duds are failing. Is it because of a change in Google? Or it is because the content is repeated or outdated? Or perhaps a topic that was once hot is far less popular now?

Step 3: Decide what you can transform and what just needs to go. As a rule, any content that never worked or was time-sensitive should go bye-bye. Any content that is still useful but maybe was just in the wrong format can be transformed. Can a series of related articles be merged and rewritten to make a comprehensive guide or massive FAQ page, for instance? If the article is outdated, is it worth updating?

Step 4: Create redirects and prevent broken links. Any blog post that is removed (either deleted completely or transformed into something new) needs redirects so that any pre-existing links to that article don’t become broken. This is important for SEO purposes. For outdated content, you can simply redirect to the most recent, most related content piece on your site. Some new articles may need to be published to replace old clutter. On top of that, you can follow these steps to ensure that Google doesn’t give out search results to outdated content.

Step 5: Publish and promote new-and-improved assets. Any assets that were transformed (updated, or merged to make longer, more valuable assets) need to be released and promoted via social media channels. Spring cleaning on your company website(s) may be more time-consuming than doing the same to your home, but the benefits are just as clear. A website clean of clutter content is leaner, more dependable, more engaging, and more profitable.

So when can you and your content marketing team plan a clutter cleaning project for your company website? You’ll be well rewarded for your efforts!