I recently realized my I had let things get out of hand here. Some old blog posts were not up to my current standards (including some broken links, images not loading, etc.) while some others didn’t fit my idea of relevant content. Since starting this blog in 2011 I had never gone through the “archives” and spiffed it up.
Hopefully, you’re inspired to stick with or restart your blog — even if it’s a mess. Maybe you’re even thinking about switching directions regarding your subject matter. You may need to target a smaller audience and tidy up your content, is all.
When you revamp your blog, you’ll do a lot of slashing, depending on your blog’s age and beginnings. As you correct the problems, keep in mind this overarching rule:
Your goal is to target a specific audience with only your highest-quality content, and help visitors find that content.
The worst thing you can do is confuse your reader. Providing clarity for your audience is one of the best reasons for cleaning and restarting your blog!
Clarity, specificity, and ease of use should be your top priorities.
Carve a clear, deep path for your niche market, including content that suits your reader at all levels of interest and experience, and give them access to links and visuals so they know they are following a leader with a cohesive theme.
You want more quality traffic that spends more time on your website, so eliminate any and all confusion.
I’ve noticed two of the most common sources of confusion on blogs — my own and others I’ve visited. These confusing elements will drive your audience away, either because your visitor hits a dead end, or because your content isn’t current, relevant, or interesting to her.
A systematic approach toward fixing each of these problems will improve your user’s experience.
1. Consolidate Redundant Content
Redundancy in content is a common “problem” for people who have been blogging for a long time. You may have certain themes or subjects that come up a lot. As I look back though all the posts on this blog, I’m finding multiple articles on writing in a natural voice; using powerful, but not “fancy” words; and talking in plain English to one person. It’s a common theme, “Finding Your Voice”.
As I come across article after article, I realize there are a couple things I could do to fix this.
- I could consolidate all of it into an e-book, or even a short course. I could offer it as a freebie (a free opt-in offer), offer it for sale, or include it in a gated, members-only content area on my website. Or…
- I could group this content under a single category or include it under a clearly identified menu item so users didn’t just randomly stumble across it.
Either option allows MyTeamConnects to continue catering to the the folks who are searching for copywriting tips; and helping small business marketers who are searching for tips on do-able, effective, visual and textual content.
2. Delete Irrelevant Content
Trendy or temporary topics, and articles written about current events — these all need to go. Deleting blog posts hurts because of the work you put into them, I know!
For example, as I clean my blog, I’m finding articles on Google authorship, which is no longer a thing, and the “new” story about gmail’s inbox categories.
I’m also running across random articles, like the one about losing our trees here in the Hill Country to developers; a post relating the TV show The Voice (when it was new) to content marketing; and one on Whitney Houston’s passing.
While the posts I’m deleting or re-categorizing to another section of the blog might be interesting reads on some level, they do not serve my identified reader now. Too bad.
I’m cutting the chaff, and I recommend you do it, too, as you de-clutter your blog. Edit to the bone. Kill your darlings.
Even though getting rid of old articles seems like a waste, think of it this way: Writing all those articles helped you become a better writer.
If you must delete videos, similarly, you could say you were developing your presence on camera, or learning how to become more natural in video. Note how all that work advanced your blogging abilities, and find comfort in that.
Appreciate old work for the experience it brought you at the time, and then get rid of them!
What do you do with those deleted pages? Good question!
Redirects and 404 Pages
Say a visitor finds his way to your blog via a link leading to a deleted page. What then?
First, remember that you’ve identified your niche audience, so there’s a small chance that the deleted content wouldn’t serve this new visitor anyway. If that’s the case, the annoyance is small, but nothing’s lost in the big picture. In fact, you may even look at this problem as an opportunity.
You still want to provide a smooth transition to your new, improved content, so you should direct your visitor to a more helpful, targeted flow of information. In this case, you can do one of the following:
Identify the core theme or spark within the original idea, and send your visitor who landed on the deleted page, to your new, more relevant section of your website. You can do this in one of two ways.
You can use a 301 redirect to offer the reader a new article in place of the old one. Read more about the different types of redirects here.
A recent, excellent episode of Smart Passive Income features Todd Tresidder, who describes his experience auditing his own website. He actually deleted a third of his content and increased his traffic threefold! It’s worth a listen if you need further inspiration to do a clean sweep. Toward the final third of the interview, he discusses his strategy for redirects on his spiffed-up website.
I’m not an SEO expert, so I’m looking to get further advice and help with this, but this podcast episode planted some ideas for making my revamped site even better than I envisioned. To my mind, I believe a redirect is more helpful toward guiding your visitor to your content than a 404, which is the other option…
When a visitor lands on a page and a 404 error pops up, it’s usually a mistake on the client side, not the visitor’s. Regular website maintenance should include scanning for possible 404 error pages.
Even if you’re not doing a complete overhaul of your website for your new niche, you’ll probably want to check for 404 errors regularly. Whether the 404 page is due to a misspelling or a broken link, they’re just going to happen. Since they’re a fact of blogging life, you can at least make your 404 page entertaining.
The Real Winner Is Your Website Visitor
The idea for cleaning up your website may originate from your own frustration with its effectiveness, but think of the improvements from the user’s experience. As you tighten up your blog and gear it toward a more specific audience or niche, everyone wins, especially the person searching for the content you offer on your webite.
You’ve heard it before. I’m just telling the same story a different way… The riches are in the niches.
The moral of this story is to go deep and narrow, highlighting the clearest path for your visitor and/or potential customer.
Don’t abandon all the content on your blog; just update it. Once you have a clear goal and better grasp of your audience, you’ll start loving your website as much as your visitors.