Does Deleting Bad Content Improve SEO?


Will Deleting Bad, Low-Quality Content Improve My SEO? 

Deleting low-quality content can not only enhance the user experience on your site but also improve SEO keyword rankings.

When trying to improve SEO, most people think the best route is to create new content, however, auditing current content on your site can be equally, if not more important. If the content is not relevant or worthy of being on your site, it’s much better to delete than leave it. That being said, not all content should be deleted. There are times when enhancing, redirecting or rewriting is the better route. 

When choosing the website content to enhance vs. delete, there’s a lot to consider. First, it’s essential to understand how Google views your website content and why deleting is a viable option.

How Google Asseses Low-Quality Content

Google’s algorithm rewards quality content. The last thing they want to see is non-relevant, low-quality pages. If most of your site consists of low-quality content, Google can deem your website as having quality issues and issue a sitewide penalty until the problem is rectified.  

Google wants to see expert-written content that site visitors love and positively interact with versus content that provides little to no value and has a high bounce rate. Google wants you to create content that will be helpful and valuable for users on your site, not content that has a goal of ranking well.

Unfortunately, many websites have quality issues. Let me explain to you how this typically happens.

How Low-Quality Content is Often Produced 

A roofing company in Columbus, Ohio, wanted to improve its SEO. They heard that blogging and creating “fresh” content would help them accomplish this. Bob’s Roofing (a company I’m making up for the sake of this article) hired a freelancer to create a weekly blog post. 

There isn’t much oversight in the blogging process, and this freelancer creates generic, fluffy articles. The freelancer isn’t a roofing expert, so there isn’t much substance. The blogs hardly receive any traffic. If shared with the sales reps at Bob’s Roofing, the sales team would not consider these blogs resources they could share with prospective and current customers. 

Over the year, this freelancer produces 50 blogs, about one per day. Before starting the weekly blog, Bob’s Roofing website only had 30 pages, which is standard for a local business. Their homepage ranked well for “Columbus Roofing Company,” and their interior pages ranked well for other services, such as siding, gutters, etc, in the Columbus market.

Bob’s Roofing now has 80 pages on its site, 50 of which are blogs. This means that 62.5% of the pages on the website (50/80 = 62.5%) are low-quality content. When Google now analyzes Bob’s website, they will see quality issues since most pages are low quality, which can lead to a sitewide drop in rank. 

Despite investing money, resources, and time into creating blogs, since the content was low quality, it caused much more harm than good for Bob’s Roofing. They would be better off deleting the irrelevant blogs at this point.

My Experience In Deleting bad Content 

Our agency works with hundreds of clients, most of which are small and medium-sized businesses. 75% of new clients we work with have bad blogs that need to be enhanced, deleted, or redirected. This is a phenomenon in the SEO industry that’s not talked about enough. 

So many SEO companies pitch blogging because it’s an easy, thoughtless deliverable. Their agency has someone who isn’t an expert and is cheap to hire write the content, which leads to low-quality articles. 

In most instances, a new SEO strategy starts with new content creation, which can be a mistake. I’ve found the most success returning to past content and fixing quality issues before creating and enhancing new content. Some of the biggest SEO wins and jumps in keyword rankings can happen when taking this route. 

Related Blog: Enhancing vs. Deleting vs. Redirecting…What Route Should You Take?

Determining When to Delete Content 

Many businesses struggle with deleting content. Since time and effort were put into creating the content, they feel torn about deleting it. I came up with a good theory on when content should be deleted. We complete this exercise often for our own blog and delete content that is irrelevant. 

  • If you cannot internally link from two other pages on your site to the respective page, it should likely be deleted as it’s irrelevant, nor does it provide value.
  • If you cannot share the content page with a current or prospective customer or client, there’s also a strong likelihood that the content is irrelevant and can be deleted.

I recommend reviewing your blogs individually, analyzing each article, and determining whether or not the blog should stay or be deleted.

What Content Should You Consider Deleting? 

  • Outdated Content  
    • The content published is no longer relevant. 
      • If you made a blog post in 2012 and it’s outdated or no longer accurate, consider deleting it. 
  • Off-Topic Content 
    • The content published doesn’t relate to the services or products you’re offering. 
      • The traffic that’s being driven to your site isn’t indicative of the customers you want to attract.
  • Thin/Fluffy Content 
    • The content was poorly written, and there was not a lot of depth to the piece. The blog may have 300 words and isn’t long enough to provide true insight and expertise.
  • Unstructured and Non-Concise Content  
    • Readers will need help to grasp what the article is about, leading to a high bounce rate. The article rambles and doesn’t answer the question based on what the person is searching for.
  • Content that Won’t Convert  
    • You wouldn’t convert a customer from this content. 
    • You wouldn’t share this content with a current or prospective customer.
  • Non-Link Worthy Content  
    • Other websites wouldn’t link back to this content. 
    • You would have trouble internally linking to this content from other pages on your site.
  • AI Generated Content 
    • In early 2023, AI became the main craze in the SEO world. Content creation could be expedited with AI. The issue is that AI content often doesn’t read well, isn’t personable, and doesn’t provide personal insights. 
    • If 20 roofing companies were optimizing their homepage and utilizing the same content from AI, this also poses a duplicative content issue. 

Related Blog: The dangers of relying on AI content for SEO

Deleting Isn’t Always the Answer 

If you saw a significant drop in keyword rankings and could attribute this to low-quality content, the easy route would be to delete all low-quality content.

Google likes to see enhancements and effort put into your website if an algorithm update negatively impacts rankings. If the content is thin, for example, but the topic is relevant, you should consider enhancing the article versus deleting it. 

I wrote a detailed blog on enhancing vs. redirecting vs. deleting. I strongly encourage you to read through this article before deciding how to approach low-quality content. 

Note: If you need help dictating a strategy on how to deal with low-quality content, you can contact The Media Captain

Preventing Future Issues with Low-Quality Content 

If you had a website that was negatively impacted by low-quality content, there are ways to prevent this from happening in the future: 

  • Expert Written Content 
    • Don’t rely on freelancers or even an agency to write the content. Have experts on your staff write the content or hire true experts within your industry.
  • Quality Standards 
    • Specific standards and benchmarks should be set for each article you’re writing. This includes topic selection, word count, uniqueness (non AI generated), including specific examples based on experience, internally linking to other related articles and more.
    • For our agency, we have our staff contribute content to our site based on their digital marketing experience. We abide by specific standards for each blog that’s posted. We have someone whose responsibility is to review each blog before posting.
  • Provide Value 
    • Will prospective or current customers find your content valuable? Can you use this as a sales resource? Keep this in mind with each piece of content you write. 

In Closing 

  • Putting time and effort into creating new content doesn’t always have a positive correlation, it can negatively affect your Google rank if there are quality issues. 
  • Rather than focusing on creating new content, audit past content and delete content that abides by the standards referenced above. 
  • Deleting content isn’t always the answer. Low-quality content can be enhanced, deleted or redirected. 
  • Creating great content takes time, strategy, and the proper execution. If you are serious about ranking well on Google, you must invest in creating quality work that users will like. 

If you have any questions on SEO or auditing the quality of your content, contact The Media Captain.

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