Refining Your Existing Website for Maximum SEO Performance

In this episode Jesse is joined by special guest TJ as he talks about pruning down the content on your website. Learn the intricacies of effectively trimming your website content to enhance its SEO performance. Discover valuable insights on leveraging tools like Google’s page indexing report and addressing undexed content the right way. Whether you’re a website owner, marketer, or SEO enthusiast, this episode will equip you with actionable knowledge to declutter your site and boost its search visibility.

What You’ll Learn

  • How to utilize Google’s Page Indexing Report to pinpoint redundant, low-performing, or outdated content on your website
  • Where to look on your website for areas for improvement and techniques on content pruning
  • Why you should trim your content regularly for improved user experience and search rankings

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Jesse Dolan: Welcome back to Local SEO Tactics where we bring you tips and tricks to get found online. I’m your host, Jesse Dolan. Joined in this episode again with TJ Elder, TJ SEO Manager here at Intrix. Been on the show before talking about some SEO and TJ, happy to have you back on today. Thanks for joining us.

TJ Elder: Yeah, thanks for having me again.

Jesse Dolan: We are gonna talk about something you and I have chatted for a while here, getting this episode ready, but a pruning content off of a website, right? Anybody who’s had a website for some time has maybe added lots of pages, or if they’ve had a site for a while, years, maybe they’ve tried some tactics, they’re a little outdated for mass building on pages. On the site, nonetheless, pruning of content is something I think that’s gonna be interesting episode for everybody. We talk a lot about… building content on your website, right? Identify your keywords, make pages for those keywords, create content, et cetera. This is kind of the opposite of the spectrum is how to go out there, take a look at content that’s maybe irrelevant, old, outdated on your website, and how to prune that to help your SEO. So hopefully that kind of tees it up for everybody for what we’re gonna be talking about. TJ, why don’t you maybe give us a little bit, maybe more elaborate description on what we’re talking about here for pruning content. You know what? What does that mean? Why would you need to do it? Let’s start there.

TJ Elder: Yeah, for sure. So, uh, pruning content, you know, it comes from, you know, pruning a shrub or something, a plant. Like if you’re gardening, um, anybody who gardens, who knows that from time to time, you need to kind of print things back in order to let it grow again, effectively. Um, so that’s kind of the, the metaphor for your website content and why you’d want to prune content, uh, or trim content. however you want to call it. So yeah, Google is saying more and more that they’re looking for helpful content for users on the website. And that’s really what they want people who are making websites to be having in mind. What is helpful for your audience? And it’s really as simple as that is finding the content that’s not helpful for your audience. And then once you find that content, you have a few different options of what to do next with it. So.

Jesse Dolan: Nice. So for us, I think we’re going to start talking about Search Console. Do you want to start with telling everybody, first, how do you look and see what may need to be pruned or how to identify those pages?

TJ Elder: Yeah, for sure. So I think the first thing that I would suggest is to just go and look at your website and pretend that you’re the user and you’ve arrived on your website and you’re just clicking around and trying to understand what the purpose of the website is and how that the website can help you and what you’re trying to find. Putting yourself in the user’s shoes is a great exercise and you might be surprised to find that things are not kind of matching up with what your expectations would be. Maybe there’s a link to a page that doesn’t really make sense and it’s one of the main links on the page. If you’ve got a blog and you’ve got a lot of blog posts, look through your blog topics and try to find topics that don’t really fit with what the rest of the website’s about. That would be my first recommendation before looking into Search Console or any other technical tools for these answers. Just put yourself in the user’s shoes and look at your website that way first.

Jesse Dolan: Thanks. Let’s go ahead, close circuit. If you want to just go from point to point, if you want to prompt me, or have me prompt you, I sure as heck can. Otherwise, if you just want to flow to the next one, otherwise it’ll be kind of random. So in this case, you want me to throw something out or you just want to roll into the next example.

TJ Elder: Yeah, I would say maybe I know you already mentioned search console and I took a dive there. Uh, so maybe if you want to bring it back to search console or before that, say, which types of content as you’re looking through, which are there any examples of certain types of content? Um, that you want to be looking out for.

Jesse Dolan: All right. So that’s a tangible way of visual way, right? Just check out your own website, kind of see what doesn’t fit or maybe what’s out of date. Great advice. I know like for our show, Local SEO Tactics, north of 200 episodes, which is then 200 blog posts, there’s for sure going to be some of our earlier episodes, right? That are either outdated, maybe not relevant anymore. So for me, that the dots are kind of connecting, just being able to navigate your site. What about some more advanced? We just mentioned like search console. What are some more advanced ways to peek under the hood? outside of just, you know, clicking through your blog posts or your site map, things like that.

TJ Elder: Yeah, for sure. So search console, what I would recommend people look at is the page indexation report. Often that’s going to have some hints of the pages that Google has already decided that they don’t think has a lot of value to them. And I can actually share my screen and show just so people know where to find that report.

Jesse Dolan: Cool. While you’re pulling that up, I’ll mention everybody listening. If you’re checking us out on the podcast, this is always on YouTube as well. Go to You can click on, excuse me, click on the link for YouTube or just search YouTube for localesiotactics. We should show up and you can watch all this in the video version. And so what TJ is gonna show, you’ll be able to follow along on screen with the examples.

TJ Elder: Okay, so like I said, where I want to look for content that might not be effective on a website is in the page indexing report in Google Search Console. So a lot of people who are familiar with Google Search Console, they’re probably looking in the performance section and seeing how many clicks their page has got. That can be another good spot to look, but I want to point out. the indexing report because I think less people will be aware of what this report is going to give us. And what we have at the bottom of this, and I guess I should back up, when you get to Google Search Console, there’s a sidebar on the left and then there is a section for indexing and then underneath that is pages. So that’s where you want to click to get to this report. And then if you scroll to the bottom, you’ll see that there’s a section for indexing.

Jesse Dolan: Cool. And just for everyone watching, sorry TJ, for everybody watching and listening, we’re actually looking at our, what is this, local SEO tactics that we’re gonna be showing here?

TJ Elder: Yep. Yeah.

Jesse Dolan: For an actual real live example. So we’re gonna peek under the hood at some of our own stuff. Like we were just referring to 200 and some episodes, right? We got a lot of content. So interesting to see what we find here as we’re digging through it too.

TJ Elder: For sure. So the page indexing report is gonna say which pages are indexed. We’ve got 230. Which pages are not indexed? We’ve got 198. You can see it says eight reasons. So if you scroll down, you see these are the reasons why Google has chosen not to index pages on the site. So the most obvious one, excluded by no index tag. That’s something we have decided to put on those pages to say, hey, we don’t want this page showing up in search results.

Jesse Dolan: Which can be normal right? I mean, you have content on your website you might want to block from that or things like that, right? So, you shouldn’t be scared if there’s pages that are not indexed. You’re going to point out maybe some spots to look for sure, but having some pages in here for the right reasons is totally acceptable.

TJ Elder: Sure. One thing that I like to point out is alternate page with proper canonical tag. So this is going to be pages that have a canonical tag that is pointing towards a different page. So that’s a way to specify to Google that, hey, we know these two pages are the same. We’re going to put a duplicate, we’re going to put a canonical tag pointing to the main version of this page. And then Google is going to know, okay, I don’t need to worry about this other page. You might need it for some reason. But Google does not need to index both pages. Um, there’s an error or a reason that will show up on this list that is not, uh, on our list here. Uh, but it’s basically going to say something along the lines of, uh, different page with proper canonical tag and, uh, Google chose it. So just to recap alternate page with proper canonical tag means that we have our canonical tags set up. We know that there’s two similar pages and we’ve got the canonical tab tag specifying which page is the main version of the page that Google should be indexing. If we did not have that set up correctly, we would see a reason in here called duplicate without user selected canonical. Um, so that means that Google is finding multiple versions of the same content. And we have not specified which is the main version. Um, and oftentimes that means Google is gonna not index one. They’re just going to choose whichever they think is the best. Um, we always want to be in control of the content that we want Google to index. Um, in that report, if you see it on your search console, That’s definitely a place to audit and look and see if there’s duplicate content on your website and a good indication that it can be pruned or consolidated into a single page. A couple other areas of this report that I look at are crawled, currently not indexed, and discovered, currently not indexed. So if you click on any of these, you’ll get the list of actual URLs that Google is flagging here, and then you can see which pages they’re talking about. But again, these are all pages that are not indexed. Crawled means that Google is crawled. It’s found your page on your website. and it just didn’t index it. So sometimes these are newer pages. It hasn’t indexed it yet. It might still. But a lot of times it’s not specifically saying it, but it’s an indication that these pages, they don’t see any reason to put those pages into Google search. So those can be areas where you need to either decide, do I need these pages on my website? Can this content be consolidated elsewhere or are they just pages I can get rid of?

Jesse Dolan: So, and actually quick, quick internal TJ, you think is this a good time to interject the whole how to maybe reinvigorate or combine pages, submit your site? Kind of like we’re not gonna dive into maybe how to do that. We’re gonna talk about pruning here, but the other route, open up that for the submissions or.

TJ Elder: Um, I think, yeah, I think that’d be fine.

Jesse Dolan: Okay, let me mention that then. And then I’ll throw it back to you to start talking about the next step. All right. So TJ, that kind of brings up a fork in the road. You’re talking about here how to identify content that would be potentially pruned, right? Or kind of where to look to start, you know, giving this an assessment. And maybe you’re gonna uncover a few things more, but want to share a quick thought. There’s two options, right? You can prune the content, just delete it, get rid of it, which we’ll elaborate on. But then there’s also what you’re just mentioning, like combining pages, right? Or consolidating pages. whether you knew you had these duplicate ish pages or for whatever the reason, if you’re gonna consider pruning, one option is to combine them, consolidate them, reinvigorate those pages. If Google’s not indexing a page, but you think it’s authoritative and needs to be out there, you don’t wanna just delete that, you wanna give it some attention. We’re not gonna talk about that today in this episode, but we do want to on a future episode. So diving deeper into pages, you know, that need to be powered up combined, right? So pruning content, but not just deleting it. how to combine it. We’d like to dive into that. And TJ and I were talking right before we started recording this episode. What would be a great way to go through that is to get you, the audience involved. Kind of like we did on the Kyle roof where submit your website. If you want us to go through this, take a look at your data, take a look at your pages, make some recommendations on what needs to be pruned and then what needs to be pruned by combining and powering up some of your pages and your content. We’d love to go through this with an example. from a real life website from one of you out there. So if you’re interested in participating, if you want us to go through your website, if you have a larger website, maybe an older website with a lot of content, if you’d like TJ and myself to walk through it and talk about how to prune the content and help you with this, let us know. Go to, go to this episode page for pruning content and on that page we’ll have a link to be able to submit your site. And in a future episode, we’ll break that down and go through it and we’ll talk with you about it ahead of time. So. If you’re interested, please check that out,, go to this episode, submit your site, and yeah, we’ll talk about how to prune and improve your content. Down the road, so that aside, TJ, do you wanna walk us through, so I guess first we should pause, is there any other tools that you would use to evaluate the content on your website, to decide what is to be pruned, or at least on the chopping board? And if not, maybe transition into, why you’d wanna do this, or… how you’re going to do this the next stages.

TJ Elder: Yeah, for sure. So. You know, without getting too technical, website crawling tools is another area where you can look to find content that might be ripe for the pickin. Um, and I don’t know if that actually made any sense to say ripe for the pickin, but ripe for the trimming.

Jesse Dolan: Sounds good.

TJ Elder: Um, so yeah, screaming frog, uh, ahrefs, SEMrush. SiteBald, tools like that, they’re all crawling the website in the way that Google would crawl the website. But a lot of those tools, they’ll give you a report of the internal linking on your website and they’ll be able to give you the number of internal links pointing at each of your pages on the website. And a lot of times they’ll give you like a score as well of… how well linked in with the rest of the site your pages are. So if there’s a lot of links pointing towards a page, Google is seeing the same thing. This page is important. It’s understanding the context in which it’s linked to. So those crawling tools can be a really good place to find pages that have a low amount of internal links. And often those are kind of the pages that aren’t gonna be performing well. They probably… aren’t linked to because they might not fit in as well with your website anyways. So if you’ve got a subscription to any of those crawling tools, I know Screaming Frog’s got a free version that can do this. So that might be somewhere to look.

Jesse Dolan: So maybe if you can elaborate for everybody why so this is how you find potential content to prune right doesn’t mean if your page shows up in this report and it doesn’t have enough links pointing back to it right or if it’s not indexing Google we’re definitely not saying just delete that page right but what we are saying is here’s how you should start to look at what’s the potential content to be pruned. helping people understand now why they would want to prune. And when we say prune, we’re talking about getting rid of it, right? Probably deleting it. Um, why would they want to do this for their website? Can you have that a little bit more?

TJ Elder: Yeah, for sure. So I kind of hinted at this earlier, but one of the biggest reasons is duplicate content. Do you already have a page on your website that is fulfilling the purpose of this other page? If so, you’d probably wanna get rid of that and just have one page covering one thing. Another situation is content that is off topic. So if you’re a small business that has a set of services, maybe in the past you had created some pages about a service and you no longer do that anymore. You wouldn’t wanna just leave that content up on the website, it’s not really gonna help anybody who comes to your website now. You could in your about page say, We used to do X, Y, and Z, and now we don’t. And then you’re explaining that still. You’re not losing the history of what your business does and how you got to where you got, but you maybe don’t need a bunch of service pages talking about those services that you don’t do anymore.

Jesse Dolan: In a sense too, they also, you know, if you’re just thinking about Google and all the pages that we put on our website and we’re trying to communicate to Google what it is that we do, right? What are we authoritative about? What are we relevant to? So if you’re not providing those services or products anymore, you’re also kind of giving yourself that false impression, right, to Google. They’re not really understanding what it is that you do, right? So I like how you kind of frame that up in that. For me, that’s… That’s what I’m hearing as well too. So hopefully people are translating that as well. Cause you mentioned earlier, really a lot of this comes down to, we want to be in charge of what Google is serving up both for broadly what they think about us as a brand and as a website. Um, and when I say us, I mean like as you’re listening, right. That means you. Um, but then also the specific pages. And if, if Google’s not sure which page, you know, is important about this particular topic, you don’t want to be at their mercy. So. Yeah, hopefully that’s resonate with everybody. This is a pretty serious topic. And again, especially if you’ve had a website out there for a while, the longer your website’s been around, more likely you are to have a need for this. So any other major reasons TJ to prune content off your website? Those are some pretty good ones right there.

TJ Elder: Yeah, I think, I guess those were kind of like examples of the types of content to prune still, but you know, one of the benefits that comes out of doing this is now your site’s smaller, right? So it’s leaner. It’s easier for you to go in and focus on the content that you should be focusing on and not get overwhelmed with, you know, a massive amount of pages on the site. maybe you made a long time ago. So that’s kind of like SEO aside, it’s just makes your website easier to work on for yourself. And then, yeah, another benefit is if, you know, if you’re trimming a lot of content that was unnecessary on your site, it’s gonna make it quicker for Google to crawl your website too. So. If you have 500 pages and you really only need 50, Google is going to crawl those 50 pages, not have to worry about crawling 450 other ones that maybe have a lot of the same content on them. And then it’s going to be able to crawl and focus on the pages that you want it to.

Jesse Dolan: Yeah, again, being in charge, right, of the image that you’re providing to Google and other parsing out and processing what your entity does. So it’s good. So we’ve covered, you know, kind of how to find some of this content, why you’d wanna prune it. You think it’s time to walk into the topic of how to prune some of this and get rid of the pages properly. There is a right and a wrong way to do it. So let’s say you about that.

TJ Elder: Yeah, for sure. So once you’ve identified a page that you’re going to prune, what I like to look at is, all right, is this page showing up in search results? So one, is it indexed? And if so, is it getting impressions or clicks? So if it’s not getting impressions, it’s not getting any clicks, and maybe it is indexed, but it’s not getting clicks or impressions. The next place I would look is in Google Analytics and look at page views. There’s some pages that maybe aren’t doing that well in search, but you might find that once people are on your site, they’re clicking over and they’re engaged on that page. So just as like a safety precaution, that’s kind of my process. I look at how is this page performing in search? And then if it’s not performing well, is it getting engagement on my website. And then if that’s still a no, then I’m like, all right, we can get rid of this page.

Jesse Dolan: If I could just interrupt you, I’m sorry. The quick trigger that people might have just saying, oh, here’s 30 pages that are irrelevant, right? They’re not even showing up in Google. They’re not ranked. Google could care less. But if your users and your clients on your website need those pages for some reason, just keep them there. This isn’t just about being found in search in digital marketing, right? We also want people to contact us, to call us, to email us, whatever it is. Yeah. That’s a great nugget right there, TJ. Thank you.

TJ Elder: Yeah, so then you’ve done the safety checks, you found the page you want to get rid of, and then you need to know, basically, once you get rid of that page, you don’t want to leave any dead ends behind. So if there were links to that page on your website, you want to make sure it’s not just going to be a 404. So The 404 is going to be bad for the user if they click over to it and it’s going to be bad for search engines because it stops them crawling and they’ve got to go back and then continue on.

Jesse Dolan: And for everybody who doesn’t know what TJ means when he says 404, if you’re just getting into SEO or some of this, if you ever click on a link for a website and you basically get to a page where that’s not found, that’s a 404 error in kind of internal speak. So yeah, what you don’t want to have as a link that still exists out there somehow off of a PDF, off of a webpage, or even off of Google search results. If you delete the page like TJ’s talking, the user is going to see a page that says it’s no longer there. You definitely want to avoid that.

TJ Elder: So if it’s a page that you know you’re pretty confident really didn’t have a lot of value, wasn’t getting a lot of eyeballs on it or engagement, I’ll just get rid of it and then I’ll fix the links that were pointing to that to either just not link there anymore or to link somewhere else. Now if this is a page that was doing okay and maybe you’re getting a couple clicks in search a little bit of engagement on it, or maybe you’ve got a couple back links to it. If any of those things are true, I would normally wanna set up a 301 redirect as well. So like Jesse said, 404 is not found. 301 means permanently moved. And then you get to decide if anybody happens to go to that page. Where are they gonna get redirected to? And you wanna keep in mind where you’re gonna send that person. So you wanna make sure that you’re sending them somewhere that is relevant to the page that you’ve gotten rid of.

Jesse Dolan: You don’t want to just push them back to your homepage, for example.

TJ Elder: Uh, you could, if you think that’s the best place for them to, to go to. Um, but if maybe there’s a related service or something like that, or maybe you consolidated three pages that were about the same thing and you want to redirect to the one that you’re keeping or something.

Jesse Dolan: So, all right, so TJ, I know we talked before recording that there’s a pretty good example. Just came out recently in an article on Search Engine Land about maybe the wrong way to go about this or some negative impacts from doing this in a little half-hazardly way. You wanna talk about that? Let everybody know, and we’ll link to this in the show notes as well for everybody to learn more. So.

TJ Elder: Yeah, I guess I would say the wrong way to prune your pages is to just take them down and then not do anything else afterwards and leave those outstanding links pointing towards them or not redirect them if they’re showing up in search results. Like I said, you could fix the links on your website pointing to them, but if that page is showing up in search… It could be a landing page for your website. And then if it’s not redirecting, somebody chose to click on your link, it’s not likely that they’re gonna keep trying. They’ll probably go back to Google search and go to the next result instead of sticking with you. So did you have any other ideas though that I’m not thinking of here?

Jesse Dolan: So, all right, so TJ, I know we talked before recording that there’s a pretty good example. Just came out recently in an article on Search Engine Land about maybe the wrong way to go about this or some negative impacts from doing this in a little half-hazardly way. You wanna talk about that? Let everybody know, and we’ll link to this in the show notes as well for everybody to learn more. So.

TJ Elder: Yeah, for sure. Yeah. So recently, um, there is an article in search engine journal, which was talking about, um, I’m sorry, search engine land. So recently there was an article in Search Engine Land and it was talking about how CNET deleted thousands of pages on their website. And basically what happened is some people from Google chimed in and just wanted to remind people that yes, you want to have helpful content on your website. Um, it does not mean you need to get rid of old content though. Um, and something that CNET did is they got rid of a bunch of old content, uh, and old news content specifically. Um, so there’s value in having old content on your website, as long as it’s still relevant to what the purpose of your website is, um, in this example. you know, what they, you know, from CNET’s perspective, they’re looking at, you know, low engagement, not a lot of people looking at these pages, which makes sense, it’s older news, but there are instances where you might wanna know what the news was 10 years ago when it was published. So that’s where.

Jesse Dolan: It’s okay with that being part of the encyclopedia of information, right? Even if it’s not something that’s as popular or relevant today, there’s some good context there. So.

TJ Elder: Yeah. So, um, don’t feel like you need to get rid of content just because you wrote a blog post 10 years ago. Uh, you might want to consider instead updating that post, making sure that if there’s anything that is not accurate anymore, you can specify that, um, and just focus on keeping good relevant content on your website and not necessarily just getting rid of. things just for the sake of them being old.

Jesse Dolan: I think that’s a good segue too to remind everybody we are gonna do kind of a part two to this TJ where we’re gonna talk about how to do some of that combining of pages, updating of those old pages and that example right there, right? Like how to go through an old blog post if it’s out of date and either freshen it up or maybe put resources to the updated blog post right there to have people find that. If anybody out there listening is interested in having us take a look at your site and walk through that as an example. going out to, get to this show page and we will have a button there for you or a link there for you to submit your site and use it on that episode. So help everybody else out while getting some custom advice and direction on your site as well. TJ, great episode. I think this is a very helpful topic for everybody. Like we said on the front side, we talk so much about creating content. Content is king, content is queen, et cetera. This is the reverse end of that, which is pretty darn important as well. and probably some new news to a lot of people. Before we wrap it up, is there anything else you wanted to add in closing? Anything we forgot about? Any other nuggets you wanna share?

TJ Elder: No, no, I’m looking forward to seeing what somebody might submit for us to, you know, give some recommendations on. Definitely, you know, if somebody’s out there and you can look back and remember when you first got into SEO and you were just experimenting and trying and building pages as you were learning, I think somebody like that would be, you know, a great example of could submit their site here. So.

Jesse Dolan: Yeah, we’ll see. We’ll see what rolls in. Uh, again, everybody check it out. Local laser TJ. Thanks for jumping on again. I should mention to everybody, you know, you’re going to see more of TJ. We’ve done episodes previously. There’s more content coming and whenever TJ is on pay attention because he is the SEO manager at Intrix and we’re making sure we go through things that we do for our clients, right? So TJ bringing on this topic here today of content pruning. We’re walking through something that’s part of what we do every day for our clients here at our firm. And that’s very important for your website as well. So stay tuned for more TJ related content in the future as we get deep into some more tips and tricks for your website. Thanks for hanging out today, TJ. Everybody else, catch you on the next one. Take care.

TJ Elder: Thanks, Jesse.

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