When I sold Consumerism Commentary, I think it had something like 4,500 posts. That was over the course of 8.5 years. The idea of sweeping through all that content was a little overwhelming for me, so I never really did it. High Yield Savings Accounts has only 174 posts. That is a much more manageable number — but it also speaks to the site’s current weakness and growth potential.
I went through the site, post by post. The goal was to eliminate links to questionable sites. And by going through the site, post by post, I learned more about the previous content strategy.
Many articles were written by contributors who were looking to get links (none were “nofollow” links) onto the site. I expect these were in exchange for a one-time payment. Some had links in the body of the article, some were links at the end in the author’s bio. Common themes for the sites being linked were debt consolidation and credit repair. Some of these contributors were based in the United Kingdom, so some articles were written with British English spelling, European currencies, and references to English laws.
I removed many, many links. And I removed one “carnival” post. This is a round-up post, one article with a long list of links to other websites. Bloggers participated in carnivals in camaraderie and an effort of cooperation, but they’ve fallen out of favor by SEO experts, regardless of how relevant and helpful they may be for readers. They’re called carnivals because they traveled from one host blog to another, just like a traveling carnival.
Today, link round-ups like carnivals are seen as a hindrance to being evaluated by search engines as a top authority. This bugs me primarily because I founded the Carnival of Personal Finance many years ago to bring the community closer together, and to foster a cooperative environment of sharing audiences and links.
To eliminate the bad links, I just removed them from the posts, making sure what was left still made sense. I removed full bios of guest contributors because even their names could be a bad signal for SEO if they’re known participants in link schemes. For the carnival post and a few other posts, I set up a redirection (response code 301) to the site’s home page to eliminate the article presence in search engine indexes.
While going through the articles, I added a few links — very few — to other sites. I didn’t remove any links to the previous owner’s current sites.
Additionally, the vast majority of posts on the site are what I’d consider to be “thin content.” I consider thin content to be short articles that don’t have any lasting value to readers over time. Consumerism Commentary had a significant amount of thin content. Good sites today are generally those with substantive, substantial articles.
After, I used a WordPress plugin (WP Link Status) to process all links within the posts on the site to check for broken links. That helped me find more links to delete. Dead links can bring down the authority of a website.
The next sweep will involve looking at the top 35 posts or pages on the website (the top 20%) based on Google Analytics traffic since transferring the website. The plan is to expand and update these articles.
Following that, I will find the thinnest content and eliminate it, though there might be a few chances for me to completely revamp an existing thin article and expand it into something that would be helpful for readers going forward.
And only then will I really begin an effort to add new content to the site. There is a huge opportunity in this step.