Last Updated: 17th October 2019
Recently, we had the task of ‘pruning’ the blog content on a client’s WordPress site or, in other words, removing pages that weren’t adding value in terms of organic traffic, goal completions or links. This has been shown to be a useful tactic by the likes of Brian Dean and Chris Dyson, both of whom have successfully improved organic traffic after removing such ‘dead weight’ pages.
Removing dead weight pages – the method
Usually, this is fairly simple to do:
- Launch Screaming Frog (or the user’s crawler of choice)
- Plug in Google Analytics, Search Console, and backlink data (we usually use date ranges looking back around a year for the former)
- Export to Excel and filter down to pages which have no value metrics
- Analyse manually if necessary. Ignore categories and individual pages which need to stay live in any case (privacy policies, product pages etc)
- Either redirect, or delete the pages and apply a 410 (gone) status code. Noindexing the pages is another option.
In our case, these URLs were good candidates for removal:
We had a small problem with implementing this tactic on the client’s site though, as there was no identifier either in the URL or main body content of the page regarding how old the posts were. Obviously, we didn’t want to redirect brand new posts that hadn’t had a chance to get any traffic yet, so we came up with the workaround of using custom searches in Screaming Frog (this can also be done manually on a small scale, but it is a bit time consuming!)
- Go to ‘custom’ in Screaming Frog, and put in either of the below as a search (both of the below are for WordPress, but adaptations are possible for other platforms)
The Yoast datestamp (edit as required)
Here, we’d be finding posts published in June of 2019.
WordPress Media URLS
Alternatively, if not using Yoast, there is the option of searching for images that have been uploaded from the site’s media folder within the post/page (this does assume that all the posts in question have an image in them) this can be done by putting in a variation of the below in the custom search section:
2. Afterwards, it’s just a question of going to the ‘custom’ tab and deleting pages that contain recent datestamps before the data is exported!
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