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Content hygiene: How and why to cleanse your content for users

One minute on One Second on the Internet shows just how much interaction there is with online content today. These touch-points are only with good content, the type that engages people. But on an Internet now in its twenties, there is a plethora of bad content too; the type that is irrelevant and useless.

During the content marketing explosion of the 2010s, lots of bad content was created without users in mind. Today, many websites are still suffering from this digital disease and are in desperate need of a content health check.

Digital publishers are forced to constantly re-assess the direction of their content strategy to stay ahead of their respective curves, but this is often too forward-thinking to maximise the chances of successful content.

Retrospective content strategy (content hygiene) is one way to cleanse a website of bad content and nurse a strategy back to optimal performance and health.

What is content hygiene and why is it important?

The practice of content hygiene addresses the status of all of the content on your website and re-applies it to modern-day user journeys. It re-evaluates content that might have been created for search engines rather than people, content that is outdated or simply needs a facelift.

There are two phases to a content hygiene project: Evaluation and Implementation.

Evaluation takes stock of what you have, asking the question: What is the point of this piece of content?

Content is grouped into four distinct tags:

  • Content to Review

    Content that needs updating in terms of statistics, dates, facts or figures, as well as grammatical inconsistencies.

  • Content to Repurpose

    Content that is similar to other pieces on the site and needs to be consolidated into more authoritative content.

  • Content to Remove

    Content that is unnecessary or not useful and may, in fact, be holding the performance of the overall content strategy back.

  • Content to Remain

    This content is doing its job and doing it well, so there is no need to change anything.

These tags allow you to set out a plan for Implementation to ensure that you and your users are getting the most out of the content on the site. After all, content that is of no use to your users is no use to you.

Implementation is the cure. All of the points raised in the Evaluation stage are actioned and your content strategy is fine-tuned via three tasks:

  • Review

    Content is re-assessed and edited according to a change in, for example, the law, your site structure or your brand guidelines.

  • Rewrite

    Content is rewritten to be more applicable to certain points in your users’ journeys. For instance, five old articles might be addressing the same point-of-purchase concern in your users by comparing very similar products, so they’re consolidated into one article to provide users with a more authoritative piece.

  • Remove

    Unnecessary or superfluous content is removed for eternity and no human eyes are ever subjected to it again.

Do you really need to go back over all of your old content?

It might seem like a laborious task to re-evaluate your entire content catalogue, especially if your company has been creating content for several years, but in an age where Google punishes brands with bad content for providing an unsatisfying user experience, it is a wholly necessary process.

Real users don’t care about content marketing campaigns; they return to sites in search of content that will either help or entertain them while they’re in that specific frame of mind. If your old content isn’t what your user is looking for, they’ll simply look elsewhere and you’ll lose potentially valuable customers.

The positive impact of re-evaluating your old content

Dissatisfied users equals fewer repeat visits, which sends negative signals to Google. Satisfied and engaged users are likely to come back for more, resulting in positive engagement metrics such as increased time on site and low bounce rates, which show Google that your site is worth ranking.

Better content increases your chances of getting in front of the right people at the right time, making a content hygiene project invaluable to your business for the future.

Scott Mason, Head of Content, Branded3

Tel: +44 (0)113 260 4010

Email: contact@branded3.com

Web: www.branded3.com

Twitter: @Branded_3