I adore the Japanese Maple behind our house.
Each fall it drops every leaf and winters as a crazy straw look alike.
As it begins to bud each spring, we deadhead it by flicking off its dead twigs. I’m not much of a gardener, but even I know that breaking off the small twigs the tree decided to stop sending sap to over the winter helps it grow.
Whenever we get around to the deadheading (usually at some point during the first week of warm weather), it’ll explode with new growth within a few days.
As I was circling the tree yesterday afternoon, looking for more tiny, dead branches to pluck off, it hit me that this is a good analogy for how you should care for you content.
Of course, you should “deadhead” words as you write; pruning away until you get to a healthy piece of content. The deadheading I’m talking about today is plucking away and discarding existing content on your blog or website that isn’t performing.
Deadhead Your Shriveled Up Content
Some content is evergreen. That content is well-written, continues to provide value to readers, and brings people to your site because it’s caught up in the virtual Google vortex of people liked it so they read it so Google sends people to it so they like it and so on.
That content is great. You should still prune and update it now and then. If I were a gardener, this is where I’d make some sort of analogy about repotting or fertilizer or something to create new growth. But that’s a post for another day.
This is about the other content that is . . . not great.
It sits desolate and alone, unread and unloved.
That content will hurt your searching rankings. One signal of a quality site the search engines look for now is page visits. Creating lots of pages that can be indexed to help boost your search results is a strategy past its due date.
Finding Your Dead Content
Your trusty Google Analytics account is the perfect resource to identify these pages. How? Sort your blogs and/or Web pages by yearly views. Depending on your traffic stats, “low” is going to be relative.
For the most part, if a blog post or Web page is getting tens of visits in a year, whack it.
Look From Many Angles
I’d almost swear that our tree kills twigs as I walk around it! You think you’ve done, step to the side, and, nope, there’s some more.
Don’t stop at blogs and Web pages. Review your landing pages and CTAs and any other content — videos, infographics, etc.
Some Stems Have Life Still
There’s a dead branch on our Japanese Maple because I was over zealous in my efforts a few years ago. Rather than paying attention to the bit of spring left in the branch, off it went, only to reveal itself as still having been alive.
Not all of your unseen content is totally dead (for you fellow Princess Bride fans, we’ll call this content “mostly dead”).
You can sometimes breath life back into this content (you don’t even need a miracle pill — all the Princess Bride fans get that).
Some pages may show a recent increase in visits. Keep an eye on those posts/pages. If the trend continues, consider boosting with a revision and some distribution love. If after a few months, the increase was a one-time blip, deadhead away.
- Formerly popular posts. Did a post have hundreds of views four years ago but only a trickle last year? Can you recreate these posts as an ebook or other piece of content? Or was that content topical at the time, but no longer relevant?
- Once you remove the content, take the time to review it. Look for content that was well-written and valuable, but just never took off. Set that content aside to rework and republish. I often find I have a new perspective when I reread anything I’ve written. It’s hard enough to create content — building on existing ideas can save you time.
Of course, some content is past its prime (or never had one). Let it go.
Don’t’ forget to redirect! If the page is indexed by the search engines, it could still show up in a search result. Given how easy it is to redirect a page to capture every last potential visitor to your site, make sure you do.
It’s spring and the tulips and daffodils are blooming. The grass needs mowing. And leaves are back on the trees.
Help your blog or website bloom by deadheading your content.