A content audit for SaaS doesn't have to be overwhelming. To drive meaningful results, keep a pulse on your content inventory, I'll show you how...
Regularly producing new content for your website is hard. Keeping your ever-growing library of content up-to-date and consistent with new blogs, podcasts, other site resources, and continually evolving best practices is even harder.
While consistently generating new content is a crucial piece of any successful B2B SaaS marketing strategy, often the maintenance of old content is left neglected in its pursuit. This can be a dangerous practice as leaving outdated information on your site can cause visitors to view your company as out-of-date or behind the times. And it keeps them from perceiving you as a thought leader in your industry.
When dealing with existing content that needs updates, corrections, or optimizations, you have two options: make small edits and leave the post intact or remove it altogether. In most cases, an update will be enough to bring a piece back to life in the eyes of site visitors and search engine algorithms.
However, in cases of irrelevant content and exceptionally poor performance, removing them can be your best option to improve the quality of your content library. This will also often provide you with content that can be repurposed or republished.
Why you should prioritize content updates and remove them from your backburner
Software companies, in particular, are operating in an industry that is changing by the minute. New updates, technological shifts, and customer expectations forever drive lightspeed change amongst you and competing software vendors.
Selling your product as a service further stresses the need to keep up as customers are rewarded for keeping their head on a swivel, browsing, and reevaluating competitors’ services to see who is the best choice for them at any given time.
To keep bringing potential customers to your site and keep yourself as the top choice in the minds of your customers, it’s important that your audience sees your library of content as trustworthy and reliable.
Old content does not equal dead content
Having a site that’s free of outdated content is an admirable goal, but your first step in clearing house should not be to immediately remove these outdated pieces from your site. This is not only damaging to your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts, but will also cost you a great deal of time spent rewriting pieces on relevant topics.
When you delete posts unnecessarily, you are not only removing content that someone may find valuable, but you are erasing any positive SEO progress that post may have made and allowing other, similar, competing posts to take its place.
A great deal of your old content that should be revisited is in need of simply that: a revisit. This is where historical optimization will be your ally. When they incorporated regular post updates, HubSpot was able to boost their monthly organic search views to updated posts on average by 106%. Considering that 76% of their blog views came from posts published previous to the current month, that is a massive improvement not only for those blogs but for their site as a whole.
Though it should be your first step, updating old content is not always the best solution, however, and there will frequently be cases in which posts should not be kept.
How do you know when it’s time to just let go?
You’ve looked at old posts, touched them up, updated their lead magnets, and even found a few you’d like to expand upon in new posts. There’re a couple of blogs, however, that you’re just not happy with and just aren’t performing, no matter how you try to approach them. Should they be deleted?
Not all old content can be saved and, in many cases, it might not be worth your time. Perhaps the most important factor to keep in mind when considering pulling posts, however, is how the page is performing.
Posts that keep producing views, contacts, and customers should only be pulled from your site in the very rare case that the post is potentially harming your brand’s reputation or is misleading to visitors and cannot be salvaged or repaired.
Be sure to regularly check content pages’ performance through HubSpot, Google Analytics, or any other website analytics service. Those at the bottom of the list in page views are likely good candidates for more than a standard retouch. Removing these posts won’t eliminate a large potential audience.
Let’s walk through three scenarios where it is time to give up on old pieces of content that may be underperforming or damaging to your image as a thought leader in your space:
1. It’s no longer relevant to your company or industry
Things change quickly in the software industry, but often small changes can bring old content up to date. This isn’t always the case though, and it’s important to recognize when a subject may be totally irrelevant to your industry or simply to the current year. These kinds of articles can make your company appear out of touch or make it clear you are not doing any regular site maintenance.
So, yes, it’s about time to scrap that blog post on “The Top Eight Fax Machines for the Modern Office.”
The other way this issue can manifest is when companies pivot and old, once-relevant content no longer applies to the company. Startups and software companies should be particularly aware of this as rapid product changes are not uncommon and it can affect large portions of their content.
This is a great example of a situation in which a well-performing page may still need to be removed. Let’s say a project management software company has a blog on the value of management software on construction sites. Over the past year, however, they have moved almost entirely to working with maintenance and operations businesses and no longer cater to construction companies. Though they may still be getting leads from this blog, these leads will no longer provide value to the company and instead will be being actively misleading.
When possible, you can make updates to preserve content and shift it with the product. In many cases, however, it may not be worth the time and effort and you should remove these irrelevant pages as soon as possible. Especially since they are damaging your site visitor quality as well as your SEO.
2. It’s competing with another post
Publishing a large amount of valuable content is great for boosting your organic traffic and keyword rankings, but with an increasingly large library of content comes the increased risk of SEO cannibalization.
SEMrush points out that this cannibalization is not strictly the result of having multiple pages ranking for the same keywords but rather when you have multiple pages with the same intent and intended audience. As Google’s John Mueller explains, “If you have a bunch of pages with roughly the same content, it’s going to compete with each other [sic].”
What’s to be done about it? When you look through existing content, particularly pieces tied to the same topic cluster, think about what the pages are asking the visitor to do.
For example, let’s say a site has two articles on the future of direct mail marketing. One explains how it works and what predictions they have for its future, and the other serves to compare popular direct mail services and predict which service will do the best moving forward.
Though they may rank for the same keywords, these articles are not in conflict as they are speaking to visitors in different phases of their buyer’s journey. If both these articles, however, were not so different in this regard the site would likely be better served by combining these pieces or simply eliminating the weaker of the two.
3. A re-release would be preferred to an update
Sometimes a valuable piece of content just doesn’t perform well the first time around. Perhaps it’s in need of a yearly overhaul. Either way, you might be better served by totally recycling a piece of content than by spending time refreshing it.
One benefit of this process is that it can help keep the language and message of the piece more cohesive. Over time, frequently updated blogs may begin to feel like Frankenstein’s content: new facts, corrections, downloadable links and forms, plus hastily revised language stitched together. Taking the time to start the writing process again will likely result in a piece of content that feels significantly more deliberate and put together.
The primary gain of recycling old content, however, is that of republicizing it. While new visitors may be drawn to your blog by a well-placed Google search, you can give your overhauled content a second chance to perform well by:
- Sending it out again to your blog subscribers
- Re-posting it to your social media followers
- Placing it once more at the top of your blog page
Rewriting and republishing content gives you an opportunity to recreate the blog with improved writing skills and, hopefully, a more active site and larger channel of communication than when it was originally posted.
A larger subscriber list and following on social media means that your new piece of content has a much more substantial automatic audience than on its first release.
What to do if you decide to remove content from your site
Presto! You’ve made your content disappear. Before you start writing the Next Great American Blog, however, you should take a moment to make sure anyone visiting the URL where this content once lived isn’t turned away from your site by an error. It’s also a good practice to evaluate what further value this deleted content may provide you with.
Redirect deleted content pages
If you do decide to remove a content page from your site, it’s important for your SEO and visitors’ experience that the old URL does not lead back to a 404 error. When deleting a post, be sure to redirect its URL to a related page using a 301 redirect. Any backlinks pointing towards your original post will point to this new page, keeping visitors from facing a 404 error and, instead, directing them to a helpful resource.
When selecting a page to which to redirect, content pages on the same topic and the pillar page the original post was connected to should be your first choices. Think about what content would genuinely be the next best thing for a site visitor. You should also take the time to remove links to the original post from any pages on your site which lead back to it.
Reduce, reuse, recycle
Excepting the unusual occasions in which a piece is indeed so outdated or misleading that it contains no value for your site, you should consider pulled content as a valuable resource for creating new content of all forms.
When working with a piece of content pulled from your site, you shouldn’t feel limited by the original form of the piece. The content itself may not be worthy of a refresh and republish in and of itself, but may still contain valuable language or data that could be incorporated into other forms, such as:
- Social media posts
To continue with a previous example, you may no longer work with construction businesses, but statistics on the industry may be helpful in the future if you’re targeting manufacturers of construction materials.
Try organizing old pieces by subject and brainstorming new content subjects based on the content you already have. You may be able to create some valuable pieces without having to conduct near as much research and planning.
Strengthening your content strategy by making updates
Existing site content is frequently overlooked in favor of churning out more and more new blogs. As content marketing continues to grow, however, more companies are realizing the enormous value of maintaining their old content, with 51% agreeing in 2019 that updating their existing library of content was their “most efficient tactic implemented.”
Removing posts from your site should be a calculated decision, and before you do so consider the impact it will have on your SEO. But when the right pieces are pulled, you’ll have raised the bar for content on your site and strengthened your position as a thought leader. Knowing when to keep a piece of content available to the public and when to retire them is a crucial piece of your content-update strategy and, hopefully, these suggestions will help your own content strategy.
If you’re looking for more info on optimizing your content, new and old, check out our Beginner’s guide to friendly SEO content: Strategy, tools and tips and our blog on 5 content marketing metrics to measure success (this one includes a template!).
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Vaughan endeavors to create intriguing and well-informed material. He is excited to make a positive impact with his work and to continually expand and make effective use of his skills in and knowledge about marketing.