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  1. #1
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    SEO Expert Question
    Hi,

    I sometimes find myself paralyzed when wanting to clean up a site. I have lots of pages that are not so useful, I feel, but they are hooks that bring in some traffic.

    Also, I am afraid if I start deleting pages and thus shrink the size of my site, my hard-earned rankings may be hurt. After all, less pages that are focused on complementary keywords would lose ranking, no? Doesn't having more complementary pages make the site more valuable in the SE's eyes?

    How over-cautious am I being? Or am I wrong completely that streamlining a site will hurt rankings?

    Thanks.

  2. #2
    Affiliate Manager affilorama's Avatar
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    If a page on my site has any sort of ranking for keywords, I leave it there and let it bring in traffic. Even those that do not have ranking get to stay on and what I do is figure out why they are not getting any ranking and make the appropriate adjustments/improvements. There's no limit to the number of pages one can have on a website. The only pages that I would ever delete are those that are totally off-topic. But, then, one would not put on an off-topic page anyway.
    Michelle
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  3. #3
    Affiliate Manager ParadigmWilliam's Avatar
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    If they are copied content then its different, doesn't matter if you get rid of them. But if its unique content I would keep it.

    But the bottom line is, if it brings in traffic keep it.
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  4. #4
    Outsourced Program Manager Sarah Bundy's Avatar
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    Hi Hazlcha,

    I think you are asking two questions:

    If I start deleting pages will my overall or core keyword ranking change (because I have less content)?
    If I start deleting pages wont I lose traffic because of all the long tail keywords I may be ranking for (deep pages ranking for long tail keywords)?

    “Streamlining” or “cleaning” up a site is a decision that is made on a case by case basis and definitely does not always ‘hurt’ a site in the SE’s eyes. Truthfully, if the site has too many superfluous pages, cleaning up will help – you won’t lose “rank” unless you cut drastically and leave very little content. So in many cases, finding your major keywords, creating pages for those (or keeping existing ones), and aligning them logically & semantically should allow you to stay where you are or move up in rankings for those key terms even after deleting extraneous pages.

    As for losing the ranking for the long tail searches; yes, if you delete a page that is ranking for a particular term, it will no longer be indexed and therefore you will lose that ranking. Therefore, you need to check Analytics to see how much traffic you get for that term. Is it even worth it to keep? Check the keyword conversion, you may be getting acceptable traffic from a long tail kw to an obscure landing page, but if no one was converted in the last year then it’s useless. Also, check the keyword you are ranking for on that page. Is it just a keyword that happens to be present once or twice in the copy? If the keyword isn’t fully optimized on that page (not in the title, H1, etc) then there is a good chance you can add that keyword or keyword phrase to another page of equal authority and have it rank for that term, then you can delete the superfluous page.

    Of course, you can always streamline your site but keep the superfluous pages, listing them only in your sitemap. That way your site is clean from a usability standpoint, but those articles or pages are still there and ranking.

  5. #5
    What's the word? Rhia7's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hazlcha View Post
    I am afraid if I start deleting pages and thus shrink the size of my site, my hard-earned rankings may be hurt. After all, less pages that are focused on complementary keywords would lose ranking, no? Doesn't having more complementary pages make the site more valuable in the SE's eyes?
    I was reading an article at SearchEngine.com that deals with your question:
    While conversion optimization is extremely valuable, it only looks at part of the question -- how your site converts visitors to a page or set of pages on your site. Also, it doesn't take into account the obvious search engine benefits of having text on your page.

    For example, you wouldn't want to increase your conversion by 30 percent but cut your traffic in half because you took the content off the page. Clearly, you want to strike a balance between SEO and conversion optimization ...

    Source:4 Things SEOs Should Consider When Creating Content
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  6. #6
    Outsourced Program Manager Sarah Bundy's Avatar
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    I checked with Jared (our SEO guy) and he added:

    "As far as complimentary pages, they can be helpful if to bolster rankings of core keywords if they fit the following criteria:

    1) They are all original content with unique titles/metas
    2) The taxonomy is logical/LSI based. In other words, a landing page that is ranking for a keyword could have complimentary pages underneath it (they would all be 'related' to the main keyword, would all be interlinked, and would all link back to the main landing page - this is sometimes done through breadcrumbing).
    3) The content is all unique, with unique titles and metas.

    The question that should be asked is, what is the main reason you want to delete these pages to start with? As mentioned previously you can still keep them (and list in the sitemap) while keeping your site looking cleaner and more streamlined from a user perspective."

    I hope this helps

  7. #7
    Analytics Dude Kevin's Avatar
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    I often find myself over thinking this exact issue.

    One of the tactics I've used in dealing with older pages that draw traffic but aren't necessarily adding any benefit to YOU as a webmaster aside from that is re-working the Call to Action on the page.

    So instead of re-directing it, or something similar, I add a nice prominent graphic saying something like "See our New etc etc..." and have the visitor move to a page where we're showing them exactly what we want them to see.
    Kevin Webster
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  8. #8
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    Thumbs up You Are Right
    I think you are right my friend. If your site rank well and driving enough business then it can be risky to delete some pages. I know that if any site go under construction often it hurts the ranking. So be careful.

  9. #9
    What's the word? Rhia7's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin View Post
    So instead of re-directing it, or something similar, I add a nice prominent graphic saying something like "See our New etc etc..." and have the visitor move to a page where we're showing them exactly what we want them to see.
    That's a good idea.

    Sometimes the webmaster needs a new strategy when suddenly certain product links that were showcased no longer are working. In this case sometimes I substitute a competitor's links, but thanks for the idea, Kevin, that's another strategy
    ~Rhia7 -- Remember the 7
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  10. #10
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    Thanks for all the great input. I love the idea of the "See our newer section" etc... Also sitemapping the old stuff works, but probably would no longer help the overall ranking of the site if it's not linked to sequentially from complementary pages. My guess.

    Now my dilemma is to focus on a narrower niche within a certain area, and have greater detail within that sub-category. For example, a site about photography, currently has sections about all different kins of cameras. Let's say it ranks for "Digital Cameras", but isn't converting. That's probably because it's competing with the whole world and Amazon, and visitors see it's just another camera catalog, etc...

    So I want to narrow the focus to SLR cameras, and build the site up to be an expert on those. I hope visitors will stay more, since the focus is narrow and there's more information, differentiating it from all the other catalog sites.
    Then, what to do with all the information and catalog pages of all the other cameras?

    After reading your posts, I would keep those pages, but reassign the links on the main site to be "Other Types of Cameras," leave it as a legacy section, and focus all my energy on the SLRs. Or, I could just keep them in site map and not even link to them from the main page, although that would probably hurt SEO.

    Am I understanding your suggestions correctly?

  11. #11
    Newbie betty10's Avatar
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    Really informative thread.
    @hazlcha: I've learn something new from this thread. Thanks for sharing.

  12. #12
    Kung Fu Master Eathan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hazlcha View Post
    I have lots of pages that are not so useful, I feel, but they are hooks that bring in some traffic.
    That's the quote that is most telling in your question.

    What's the point of traffic to pages that just turns around and leaves. Unless it's a made for Adsense site, the pages sound like they need to be repurposed (Kevin nailed it there) or *gasp* deleted.

    At the end of the day you're after revenue. Traffic is great, but traffic that doesn't benefit your bottom line is just wasted bandwidth. The pages don't necessarily hurt anything, but they could eventually. Think about SEO over the last 10 years, and then think about SEO over the next 10 years. The engines change.

    Can you ever imagine a day when maintaining a current, relevant, useful, focused site, free of extraneous, outdated, orphaned pages would ever be bad? What about the opposite? Two words "Supplemental results"...
    Eathan Mertz

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  13. #13
    Outsourced Program Manager Sarah Bundy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eathan View Post
    Think about SEO over the last 10 years, and then think about SEO over the next 10 years. The engines change.
    Too true. For example, Google is starting to favor sites that take the time to be 508 compliant now. Sec 508 refers to the amendment made to the Rehabilitation Act to make information technology accessible for people with disabilities, most notably eyesight disabilities. So proper alt tagging (using descriptions not just keywords) and other elements you can add can make your site 508 compliant meaning someone who is vision impaired could browse your site easily. Google is mentioning that they may start looking favorably on sites that are compliant.

    I thought that was a positive and interesting turn to take.

  14. #14
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    Excellent point. It is, after all, about quality above all else. Garbage pages are little more than spam, in a sense. In the long run, quality will prevail, as people will beat a track to your site.

    Another related issue deals with internal linking. I have long navigation trees on the left side, with lots of areas of the site. Again, I'm paranoid about cleaning that up. I'm afraid that the pages linked to would be hurt if less pages in my site linked to them.

    If I had it my way, I'd link to all pages in the section, and then leave a link to the home page for people to return to in order to get to other sections.

    So am I just being paranoid, or would removing some internal links from second level pages hurt the other sections?

  15. #15
    Kung Fu Master Eathan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sarah – The AIM Group View Post
    Too true. For example, Google is starting to favor sites that take the time to be 508 compliant now.
    Interesting. Another great example of the benefits of doing things the right way.
    Eathan Mertz

    Black Cat Mining - Gold Prospecting & Rockhounding Equipment

  16. #16
    Outsourced Program Manager Sarah Bundy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hazlcha View Post

    So am I just being paranoid, or would removing some internal links from second level pages hurt the other sections?
    Checking with my SEO expert, he says:

    “This type of linking is perfectly acceptable and works well with Google. This is an LSI type approach where you have main categories on your home page (level 1), and once clicked on, the landing page (level 2)shows more detailed links to various pages (level 3) related to that subject. Once on level 2, you will only see links to the level pages in that category, and need to go ‘home’ and dig into another category in order to see its level 3 pages.

    If you are able to edit the homepage template as being different than the level 2 pages, you may want to include some level 3 links to various categories if they are strong keywords. Some people do this in a ‘popular posts’ menu or something to that effect essentially just to get those links on the home page while sticking to their LSI taxonomy.”

  17. #17
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    Thanks, I think that will be helpful. Clutter doesn't improve the mood of visitors, and I will look into tweaking the site in a tiered fashion.

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