WARNING: Action items listed in this article can cause your blog to lose page rank if/when implemented incorrectly and should only be undertaken after consulting an SEO you trust with your inbound traffic.
- Dated Content That Cannot Be Updated (e.g., events)
- Low Number of Backlinks + Low Number of Unique Visitors + High Bounce Rate
- Low Dwell Time + (#1 OR #2)
List WHERE (301 Redirect to ...)
- Updated new URL that's part of an SEO'd Topic Cluster
- A topic-relevant blog category or tag page
- A marginally relevant blog category or tag page that is not indexed by search engines and therefore has no ranking. This means the target page will already have noindex,nofollow code. (see code below)
Add the following meta tag to the <head> section of the target page's HTML.<meta name="robots" content="noindex,nofollow" />
Ok. Before we go too far down this rabbit hole, it's only fair to say that much of what we are able to control about SEO as humans is becoming less knowable as Google increases its use of RankBrain-like machine learning. (Moz, 2017 - https://moz.com/learn/seo/google-rankbrain)
At Search Marketing Expo (SMX) in San Diego (March 2016), Google's Paul Haahr, a top engineer involved in core ranking jokingly made the following statement with regard to RankBrain and which went viral almost immediately. Haahr said, "...I think we understand how it works. We still don't understand what it's doing exactly." (Haahr, 2016 - https://youtu.be/eGSGZMI4Z_I?t=1m32s)
This is HUGELY relevant because it basically means that if the smart guys at Google don't even quite 'know' what RankBrain is doing exactly and Google began using RankBrain for every search beginning in 2016 (Search Engine Land, 2016 - https://searchengineland.com/google-loves-rankbrain-uses-for-every-search-252526)
... the rest of us don't really have a prayer trying to artificially influence ranking behavior to any significant degree and consistently over time. haha ;)
That being said, if, when, and to where you 301-redirect poor performing posts still matters. A lot. Here's why.
Google's overarching goal in delivering search results is to answer questions from humans and machines more than 3 billion times a day better than any other source on the planet. In so doing, Google uses hundreds of ranking factors to determine when to increase and when to reduce page rank.
- see Google’s 200 Ranking Factors: The Complete List (2018)
Some of the user interactions level ranking factors that are likely to trigger a reduction in page rank when implementing 301-redirects include ...
-1- Organic click-through-rate -- (high = good for ranking)
-2- Pogosticking -- (high = bad for ranking)
-3- Dwell Time -- (high = good for ranking)
[Note: There are MANY others.]
Since ALL of these revolve around what a visitor does AFTER arriving on your newly 301-redirected page, "if, when, and to where you 301-redirect" can have a big impact on the rest of your site if you get it wrong.
>>1. It doesn't matter too much WHEN we choose to delete/301 redirect old blogs that aren't performing and can't be improved by updating. Is that right?
What's important is that we routinely audit these blogs to decide which to update and which to delete/301 redirect. Is that right??
Again, "we can schedule all of this work as frequently (or infrequently) AS OUR CONTENT PRODUCTION SCHEDULE DEEMS APPROPRIATE."
Recommendation: Redirect only after page performance drops to what's considered 'low' relative to the rest of your pages.
If your bottom-10 performing pages get 10 clicks each monthly with a bounce rate above 80%, that would be a good point at which we could say, "it's time to drop/redirect these pages".
>>2. If there's no relevant pillar page, cluster content, or more recent/thorough blog to redirect an old blog to, it's best to just redirect to the main blog listing page ("/blog/"), or to the relevant blog tag/category if there is one. Is that right?
Depends on the specific content of each blog targeted for deletion/301-redirection and its current performance level. But we'd be very careful with this 'blanket' solution. Here's why ...
Say you blanket-redirect poor performing pages to a relevant blog tag/category page that currently gets 'x' clicks each month with a 'y%' bounce rate. Depending on what content is currently showing on that tag/category page at the time of your redirect, you now risk REDUCING the number of clicks THAT page receives thereby INCREASING its bounce rate. See how that works?
Based on this scenario, Google will begin to view that tag/category page as an increasingly poor performer and lower its page rank.
Not the end of the world, right? Hey, it's just a tag/category page that we don't care much about ranking anyway, right? OR, maybe we've set that tag/category page to 'noindex, nofollow'! Cool. Right?
Now apply this same rationale to our /blog/ index page where content changes according to our CONTENT PRODUCTION SCHEDULE ... say weekly. And where we MUST have that page indexed by Google. See the problem?
Getting this wrong could, like eating wild-potato seeds
, slowly cripple and eventually kill your blog index page (aka: your blog) by starving it of clicks and stuffing it with bounces! :(
As long as you’re aware of the risks involved you are positioned to make an informed decision.
Recommendation: Hire an SEO you can trust to not feed you wild potato seeds! :)
Hope that helps.