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Why destroying content is as important as creating it

The marketing sector can be a complicated place as new marketing tools and techniques are launched, almost on a weekly basis. Powered by The Drum Network, this regular column invites The Drum Network's members to demystify the marketing trade and offer expert insight and opinion on what is happening in the marketing industry today that can help your business tomorrow.

The web is saturated with useless content, and we have outdated marketing tactics to thank for it.

Rowena Heal, senior content strategist at RocketMill

Not too long ago, SEO teams – both within agencies and client-side – would do whatever it took to ensure their brands ranked in search results. Too many pages, stuffed with keywords, were created to target niche queries. It was a dark time for writers and information-seekers alike.

Thankfully, these tactics no longer fly in the eyes of Google. The problem? Much of this uninformative, unhelpful content still exists, and it’s burying the good stuff.

This short video explores the issue of content saturation and discusses how brands and agencies can use UX techniques to identify poorly crafted content and remove it permanently from the web.

The days of ‘black hat’ SEO tactics were a dark time for writers. Even if they were producing great copy, their features would often be buried among piles of pages that contained little information and tons of keywords. Marketers had found a way to cheat the ranking system, so their content was appearing – and their brands alongside it – despite the information often being of little use to readers and potential customers.

Fortunately, things have changed. We’ve all heard a ‘user-first’ strategy is the most effective, but that’s increasingly prevalent in the context of content. In a world of growing emphasis on brand reputation, trust and social proof, a website full of useless content can easily be the downfall of a brand.

Seemingly, things are improving for writers – it’s them writing the content, as opposed to tech SEOs focused on filling a keyword quota. The bad news, however, is this content still exists and is hiding the new and improved information being produced.

The web currently looks like a tornado of books. It’s rife with pages of thin content that lack structure to coordinate the reader’s journey. The aim is to make the internet look more like a beautifully organised library, full of trustworthy copy, neatly organised so visitors can find precisely what they’re looking for.

To achieve this, a lot of pages have got to go. UX and content teams must work closely together to identify exactly what people are looking for. Then, these findings should be used to audit a website of all its content and identify anything outdated or unhelpful that can be culled completely. It’s then that new content can be produced to address any gaps and consolidate information that was previously scattered across multiple pages.

Content marketers need to embrace content removal as part of their right and duty. Burning through the rubbish and removing it for good is a great feeling, and has a positive impact on everyone’s experience of the web. And doing so allows you to pave the way for something shiny, new – and valuable.

Rowena Heal is senior content strategist at RocketMill.

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