Cleanliness is Next to Googleness
Are you constantly adding new content to your website? Good! Google loves fresh new content…but they love quality over quantity even more.
The problem is, just adding new content without removing “thin” content pages with low user engagement, and duplicate or repetitious information about an important topic may be diluting your new quality content. This may be more serious than you think.
What the Cruft!
The Wikipedia definition of Cruft is “jargon for anything that is left over, redundant and getting in the way. It is used particularly for superseded and unused technical and electronic hardware and useless, superfluous or dysfunctional elements in computer software.”
That’s a lot of words to say that your old superficial, redundant web pages may be accumulatively sabotaging your search rankings.
Content is King, but Cruft is the Joker
As a general rule search engines (not just Google) rank individual web pages, not websites. However Google also takes the overall quality of the entire website into consideration. So it isn’t just a case of those crappie old outdated low quality pages not ranking (no big deal since you now have higher quality pages to replace them), it’s a case of those poor quality pages dragging your website ranking performance down.
Those low quality pages are competing for Googles attention. This is particularly bad for larger more complex websites. You want Google to crawl your entire website and index every page. That is a good thing. However as omnipotent as Google is, they will only spend so much bandwidth on any given site. If they crawl the Cruft before the quality, they may never get to your quality pages. If they see predominantly poor quality pages, they have less incentive to come back frequently and re-index your site to get to those good pages.
Google isn’t perfect. It’s possible that some of your more poorly written, duplicate content may rank ahead of the pages that you really want your customers to see. This could result in an erosion of your brand image in terms of the search engines…and your actual customers.
Suppressing those better converting pages could also result in less consumer interaction with your website, and thus have a negative effect on how Google views your brand.
Cut the Cruft:
The obvious thing is to “Think before you Ink”. Don’t produce anything but high-quality, original and focused content onto your website in the first place. That’s easy to say now. But what if your site is like my closet, filled with outdated specimens that will never come back into style? Well, it may be time to do a little housekeeping.
Locate the Cruft: Use Google Analytics to locate pages with high bounce rate. For example, look for any pages with a bounce rate over 90%. Pages with a bounce rate that high, are most likely driving your search rankings down and giving Google a negative perception about the quality of your website.
Another method would be to determine the average for your KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) such as “average time on site” (higher is better), and “average bounce rate” (lower is better). Look at each of those pages individually and either improve them, redirect them to a new improved page, or eliminate them all together.
You will also want to locate any pages with significant duplicate copy, and combine, redirect, or eliminate those as well. You can use tools like OnPage.org or Screaming Frog, or to some extent, Google Webmaster Tools, (now called Search Console).
The Cruft removal filtering and elimination process can be somewhat systematized, but it may be a bit technical, and a bit tedious if you aren’t used to techniques like this. Larger sites are best handled by professionals.
If your site is small, just go through each page with a critical eye and make the appropriate adjustments. If you think you might benefit from a professional third-party look at your site, you might want to take advantage of the promotional offer below ↓
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