More content, less traffic: Part II
Trying to determine whether it's worth your time to invest in ever more website content? Columnist Conrad Saam lays out a framework to help you decide.
At the end of last year, I shared the results from three of our projects showcasing how we had increased traffic by reducing a website’s overall page count. Simply put, many of our clients had way too much content — pages and pages of content that not only didn’t generate traffic, but also had the unintended consequence of hurting traffic sitewide by diluting keyword and topical relevance. By consolidating pages and reducing the total page count of these sites, we saw some dramatic improvements in overall traffic.
The purpose of this article is to lay out an analytical framework to answer an important question: How do I determine if I should continue to increase the content on my site?
First, I should note that I work in the hypercompetitive legal industry — and lawyers have been belching out web content at a stupendous rate after hearing time and time again that “Content is king” and that “Google likes fresh content.” Law firms around the country have hired small armies of low-end writers, outsourced content abroad and thinly plagiarized each other like mad. Long-tail legal content? Yup, we’ve got that in spades — search for a “lesbian car accident attorney” in any major city, and you’ll find not only pages optimized for that, but entire directories.
The reality is, there’s plenty of legal content out there — it’s really a matter of which legal content rises to the SEO surface.
My content-crazy client
In our most extreme example, we had a new client with a small team who had generated over 4,000 pages of domestically written, lawyer-reviewed, reasonably high-quality content. He had been at this for about three years and was averaging 25 new pages of content a month. Through some aggressive content pruning, we’ve cut about 40 percent of that content and seen dramatic, consistent improvement in their overall performance. Traffic has risen over 50 percent during the four months we’ve been at it.
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