Should You Disable Underperforming Pages?





Blog Date

June 6, 2024


UK, Manchester

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Should You Disable Underperforming Pages?

What’s Lurking in the Dark Corners of Your Website?

As an SEO consultant working with businesses in Manchester, I’ve seen it all – from sparkling, high-performing websites to the digital equivalent of a hoarder’s house. One question that often comes up is, “Are there pages on my website that I can remove, consolidate, or improve to make my new website cleaner and stronger?”

It’s a fantastic puzzle to solve, and an important one too. If a website is littered with underperforming pages, they could be sending negative signals to Google, which over time could hurt the domain’s ability to rank in search. So, let’s dive in and explore when it might be time to bid farewell to those underperforming pages.

Identifying the Underperformers

Before we start swinging the content pruning axe, it’s crucial to understand which pages on your website are actually underperforming. I like to turn to the brilliant minds at Moz for guidance on this.

Their Whiteboard Friday video lays out a fantastic process for identifying low-performing pages. First, you need to define the metrics that represent high or low performance – things like organic traffic, bounce rate, conversion rate, and rankings. Then, you set filters to surface only the pages that are truly underperforming.

But the work doesn’t stop there. Once you’ve got your list of suspect pages, you need to dig into each one to determine the root cause of their lackluster performance. Is it a technical issue? Poor content quality? Lack of backlinks? Only then can you decide whether to redirect, consolidate, remove, or revamp the page.

The Perils of Underperforming Content

So, why is it so important to address those underperforming pages in the first place? Well, they can actually become a hindrance to your overall SEO performance. Low-performing pages can:

  • Compete with your high-performing content for rankings and traffic
  • Eat up your precious crawl budget, meaning Google spends less time indexing your best stuff
  • Cause visitors to bounce, negatively impacting your site’s engagement metrics
  • Dilute the PageRank flow through your website

It’s like having a messy basement full of old, broken appliances – it may not be visible to your guests, but it’s dragging down the overall health of your home. Content pruning is the digital equivalent of a good spring cleaning.

Reviving the Underperformers

Now, before you start frantically hitting the delete button, it’s important to note that not all underperforming content is destined for the digital dumpster. In fact, with a little TLC, some of those pages could be nursed back to health.

JumpStory’s content pruning guide suggests a few strategies to breathe new life into struggling pages:

  • Optimize the content for better visibility – tighten up the on-page SEO, improve the user experience, and make sure it’s addressing the right search intent.
  • Consolidate similar pages into a single, comprehensive resource to avoid keyword cannibalization.
  • Redirect the page to a more authoritative, relevant page on your site to maintain any link equity it may have acquired.

The key is to avoid just letting those underperforming pages languish. Give them a chance to shine, or gracefully escort them off the stage.

When to Cut the Cord

Of course, there will be times when no amount of optimization or revitalization can save a page. That’s when it’s time to bid it farewell and remove it from your website.

Reddit and Strava’s community forums both offer some insights on when deletion might be the best course of action:

  • The page has violated your website’s guidelines and is no longer generating any meaningful traffic or engagement.
  • The content is highly controversial and is actively harming your brand’s reputation.
  • You’ve exhausted all other options, and the page is truly offering zero value to your overall online presence.

Just be sure to approach pruning strategically and avoid deleting a large chunk of content all at once. That can have unintended consequences for your SEO. Instead, tackle the worst offenders first, wait a few weeks, and then reevaluate.

The Case for Clean, Lean, and Mean

At the end of the day, the decision to disable or retain an underperforming page on your website comes down to a careful cost-benefit analysis. Is the page actively hurting your SEO performance and user experience? Or does it still have the potential to contribute value, even if it’s not a current star performer?

By taking the time to prune your website’s content, you can create a leaner, more focused online presence that search engines and users will love. And who knows, you might even uncover a few hidden gems in the process – pages that with a little TLC could become the new stars of your digital show.

So, if you’re ready to take your Manchester-based SEO agency to the next level, start by taking a good hard look at the dark corners of your website. You never know what treasures (or terrors) might be lurking there, waiting to be discovered.

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