A client recently asked me a question about their content strategy. I want to share my answer, which I think will be useful to you.
To give you some context, this client had five different websites a few years go, all of which had separate blogs and articles. They were closely related, and my advice was to merge everything and bring all the content under one virtual roof.
Consolidating websites is often considered a best practice among SEOs, and the only time it doesn't make sense is when each site's intended audience and subject matter are completely distinct.
But if you're a professional that specializes, either vertically or horizontally, chances are your multiple websites will have many commonalities or will be closely related.
This was the case for my client.
After the consolidation last year, and making sure posts from the previous domains were properly redirected to where the posts now reside, it created an exponential effect.
The increase in traffic from consolidating everything not only equaled the total traffic previously going to all websites but also doubled it.
There are several reasons for this.
First, the main website had more domain authority. As their flagship website, it was their oldest domain with the most backlinks.
Second, this website had more content authority. It offered services and coaching packages, but it reflected her personal brand. She had a substantial following on social media, a popular podcast, and a large list of email subscribers. Other properties had very little if any.
Now, the question my client asked was this:
Is it a good strategy to go back and fix the hundreds of posts, add content to them, fix feature images, add internal links, etc? I could also delete stuff, which may be like a few hundred blog posts that are trash. I want only high-quality stuff that internally links to the good stuff. Thoughts?
Here was my answer, edited and expanded for clarity.
Agreed. Updating and deleting unproductive pages can result in a massive improvement. But you need to be careful and plan this carefully as to not lose the momentum you've gained from consolidating your websites.
For example, you don't want to accidentally delete a high-ranking page or one that may seem to rank low only because it’s competing with other blog posts.
So before you begin, I recommend following these four key steps.
1. Create a Post Inventory
Take an inventory of all your posts and place them in a spreadsheet. This is so you can properly track things and create a plan for them when combining posts, deleting some, and redirecting them.
2. Determine Your Least Productive Posts
Use Google Search Console to find your least trafficked posts. In GSC, you will be able to filter your posts based on traffic since the relaunch, and then sort the list from the least visited pages to the most.
Look at the content of your least trafficked posts:
- If the content is weak and the posts don't provide much value to your users, simply delete them and redirect them to better or similar posts.
- If the content does offer value, see if the keywords that the posts are ranking for make sense to your users (and to the content's purpose), and if they have plenty of search volume. Use a tool like SEMrush.com or Google's own Keyword Planner.
- If the keywords don't make sense, choose better keywords for the post. In either case, mark these posts for a refresh (more on this later).
3. “Kill Off The Cannibals”
Then, look for groups of posts that are ranking for the same search terms. The problem is that the traffic resulting from those keywords is split between them. SEOs often refer to this as keyword cannibalization, which devalues the authority of your most relevant post in the group.
It's perfectly fine to have multiple pages ranking for the same keywords, as long as a primary page has all the authority and traffic, and other pages are generating very little traffic with the same words.
But if two or more pages are ranking for the same keywords, and the resulting traffic to either one is high, then you're competing with yourself. One is stealing half the traffic (and authority) from another.
So with each group, decide on which post you want to keep, which is preferably your most productive one or the one with the most authority.
With the remaining posts within each group, you have one of three choices:
- If the other posts are very similar, delete and redirect them to the one you're keeping using 301 redirects.
- If they're different but are closely related, consolidate them into the post you decided to keep. Once done, delete and redirect them to the newly consolidated post.
- If they're different and completely unrelated, rewrite them with the goal of removing the competing keyword. If they provide no value, delete and redirect. (Chances are, you've already done this in step two above.)
4. Update Underperforming Posts
Once you're done with the above, you can start updating your old content.
I recommend starting with underperforming posts. In other words, look for posts that have valuable content and generate quality traffic, but their bounce rates are high (i.e., people don't stick around) and conversions rates are low.
Update the content, expand it, clean it up, focus on a different keyword (if marked earlier), add new images, and insert internal links to other content where it makes logical sense to the user, especially to content you've just updated or consolidated.
One final note.
If your blog shows publication dates and a post is slightly modified, it's good practice to show the last-modified date on the front-end instead of the date it was first published.
But if the post has been significantly altered, update the publication date to when you made the change (like today, for example).
This will put the post back at the top of your blog as if it was newly published. Not only does it drive more attention, but also it signals to search engines that the post was updated and needs a recrawl, and also updates the date that appears in search results.
There you have it.