Pruning Case Study
A client site I started pruning around March just saw a massive jump in Organic Search Traffic.
Earlier this year, someone asked me to help them recover their site after its traffic “randomly” just went to zero.
I checked their posts, and saw a large fluctuation of content added to the site around that time too, just hundreds of posts, many of which had still not even been indexed by Google.
I realized that they had not only spammed, but posted unhelpful content, since much of the new content had little/nothing to do with their old, ranked posts.
Here’s what I did (for SERP Insider eyes only)..
I explained that my best guess was that they got penalized or suppressed because they were spamming and the content they posted lately was not helpful within context of their site.
I suggested that we prune the site down and remove all content suspected of causing this issue.
I started by completely deleting content that was completely off-topic, it had no place on the site, and was my first suspect.
For example, this website posts social media guides, but I saw a few posts about travel and finance, that were not in any way somehow connected to social media, even worse, they were posted under the same author as before.
After deleting the worst offenders, I then went through and checked every post, entering it into GSC and seeing if it had seen any clicks/impressions.
Almost 90% of their posts had ZERO clicks or impressions.
Some saw “some” impressions then went flat.
Some had clicks/impressions until today.
So I went to work on the ZERO CLICK gang, and to no ones surprised, found that only about 20% were even indexed.
I drafted them all, there’s no point in having content that isn’t being seen, nor even crawled, at least for now (mentioned in my recovery guide).
We immediately started working on content with the most clicks and impressions, we fixed it all up, added original images, and worked on internally linking those already successful pages to the pages that had “some” traffic.
We updated all page, post, product & image names, meta titles & descriptions, improved headings, word counts, and internal linking.
We created authors and made specific bios for each one, and added them to each post, giving each author their own expertise, and sticking to it.
These authors would appear on a sidebar widget on every page, as well as an automatically generated sticky Table of Contents (based on headings).
This gave the site better flow, both for humans and robots.
We also optimized their crawling/indexing options on Yoast, we’ll leave that for another day, however, once that was done, we deleted the old sitemap on GSC and re-submit for indexing.
Basically, the plan was:
Pages with 0 clicks/impressions were drafted.
Pages with clicks/impressions were improved on.
Added author box and more internal links.
Added original images on every post.
Re-submit sitemaps and manually re-indexed posts.
Optimized crawling/indexing settings on Yoast.
The results didn’t happen overnight, in fact, we didn’t see much movement for 1-2 months, but we continued to update old content, and re-submit for indexing.
That’s when we saw the first bump in traffic, around 3 months later (5-6 months in total), followed by a MASSIVE pump (relatively) in organic traffic and keywords appearing back on SEMRush.
This site hasn’t fully recovered, but I have doubled down on the strategy for other clients facing the same issue, even ones without.
Google highly values very relevant, helpful, well written, well linked content, whether or not it’s written by AI has little to do with it.
It’s extremely important to make sure every single post you submit has perfect metas, word count, headings, and answers the specific query of which keyword you target, and stick to your topic.
Even if you’re bulk publishing, you can’t just bulk publish on multiple topics, or even just random non-clustered posting, will 100% get your site hit by big G.
This result definitely confirms my feeling about dead content weighing down/overwhelming crawlers and just being an overall horrible thing to do.
The plan for this client is to continue fixing up existing content, then working on fixing RELEVANT drafted content and reposting it one by one, indexing each post manually.
Clean up your site, remove dead/irrelevant/orphaned content, improve your internal links, add original images, and get Google to re-crawl your site, boom.
I’ve actually added all my key takeaways to this guide below, I highly recommend reading that too, as it gives even more advice.
Still need help?
Check out my Site Recovery Service below, get a free chat/consultation with me, find out how I can help 👇🏽
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