Lets face it, we all have them, sites that we love, that are old, at least in the terms of the internet, and that don’t perform as we think they should in the SERPentines. Or you have a site that used to do well, but suffered during the last panda updates. Reason being for both is that these sites come from the times when we haven’t had a clue about how to write reader-focused and keyword-focused content at the same time. If your site targets the same keyword with multiple posts, also called overlapping content, this can give it the look of a ‘content farm’ in Google’s eyes! There are two ways of solving this dilemma, ditch the site and start from scratch or try to save the site taking advantage of the content that is already indexed and ranking. Honestly, I prefer the second approach, I invest a lot of time in creating quality content and I don’t throw it in the garbage bin easily 😉 If you haven’t read my >>>Keyword Strategy<<< Review yet, now is a good time to do so, because otherwise nothing will make much sense to you! And yes, you need also to sign up for their free trial, here my discrete >>>Affi Link<<< for your convenience 😉
Back? OK, lets get started to clean up a site to comply with Google standards and to have a good chance to rank in the SERPentines, i.e. to attract organic traffic, which is what we all want in the end;-)
When you follow the Fraser Method, i.e. the Keyword Strategy approach, you learn that only one article on your website should focus on a certain keyword (but the same article could, sometimes, focus on more than one, related!, keyword, but more to that later). As Fraser put it so nicely in a post, can’t find the link at the moment, sorry, but you can trust my memory with this one:
“Each article should shine like a beacon for the search engines for a certain keyword. Dividing the light between several articles, that focus on exactly the same keyword, is actually dimming the light your site has, overall, in the search engines.”
So, how to achieve that? How can you clean up a site and make each post shine sparkling and bright?
I assume in this post that you are already using the Keyword Strategy Tool, if not, here my >>>handy affiliate link<<< again for you to sign up for a free 30 days trial, only a working email address required, no credit card, no paypal, no nothing else. After you have logged into your Keyword Strategy account set up your project and let the Keyword Strategy Tool crawl your site. Here a handy video that explains the whole set-up process:
At this point and for this purpose, you don’t want, yet, to get more keywords. Just let the tool determine what your site is all about and which page on it ranks for what in Google. Also don’t assign, yet, specific posts to keywords, it is all about, at this time, to see what Google thinks about your site, not what you think Google should think 😉 So just let the tool do its magic, pour yourself a coffee and do something else until the tool has finished. Depending on how ‘thick’ your site is, that can take a while … After all is done, you see that when the green light in the right bottom corner has turned dark, you can proceed to the next step.
Determine duplicate, meaning actually, overlapping content
Duplicate content is a buzz word when it comes to SEO and internet marketing and a lot of the myths around it are wrong! But believe me, you don’t want to have pages / posts on your site that basically compete with each other in the search engines! Whilst duplicate content is often used to describe the exactly same content on different sites, in our case here it is better to speak of ‘overlapping content’, i.e. content that targets the same keyword with different posts or different posts that target too closely related keywords. Confused now? Here an example, imagine you have two posts that target the keywords
How to give your dog a bath and How to bath a dog on the same website.
Don’t jump into the dog bathing niche yet ;-), it is just a made up example to show you what I am speaking about 😉 But you see my point. Even if Google considers both relevant to a certain query, the two articles will still compete with each other in certain SEO aspects (internal linking being a big one) and ultimately, more often than not, none of the two will get the attention from Big G it deserves 😉 as the information contained in both posts will be obviously the same.
To find posts that do this and to solve an overlapping content problem on your site, go to your Keyword Strategy Dashboard > click ‘Extras’ (in the footer) and click ‘Overlapping Content’ or use this direct link. Submit a query here with the domain in question and in less then one hour, typically, you will receive a link to a text file that tells you more about competing content on your own site.
Typically this file will look like this:
The list will be governed by those keywords the tool ‘thinks’ you are targeting and list the urls of your posts and pages that are targeting exactly the same keyword. Now the fun starts 😉
Copy this list in a text doc or a spreadsheet (in case you are an Excel addict) and work through it.
Decide on the keyword you want to start with, go to your dashboard and tag all the urls given for this keyword with something like ‘to work at1’ or whatever you prefer. Now have a close look at the articles themselves. Are they really targeting this specific keyword? Sometimes the answer is ‘no’ and the only thing you have to do is to clear the wrong url in the dashboard and assign the one of the post that really tackles that keyword and to move on to the next keyword. This makes sure that the tool doesn’t assign internal links to a post that is irrelevant to this keyword.
But often you will find that you have several posts, tackling what is essentially the same keyword. If that is the case, determine first which post / page ranks highest in the SERPentines (the Keyword Strategy Tool gives you this info). This is the post you need to keep because Google already ‘believes’ in it and ideally you will have also the keyword somewhere in the post url.
Caveat: It is preferable to have the keyword in the url, if that is not the case, but that post ranks well and receives traffic it might not be a good idea to change the url as this tends to upset the search engines almightily.
If instead the post ranks, but not well, receives close to no traffic but is still worth keeping because of its great content, I would change the url to include the keywords (make also sure that the keywords are in the title and meta description) and re-direct the old url to the new one (see below for different methods of doing this).
It is always tricky to change the url / permalink structure of a live post you want to keep, so please make your own judgement and proceed carefully.
Open all posts that you and the tool have identified to tackle essentially the same keyword and merge them by essentially re-writing the post you want to keep with the additional info found in the other posts and to mention therefor also the most common keyword variations (How to give a dog a bath / How to bath a dog etc) Make sure that the post you are keeping is truly the best answer a searcher could hope to find when looking for >keyword< in Google. Don’t forget to add relevant pictures, videos or other media you have, and have the right to use!, to proof read and spell check and to, generally speaking, polish the post you are keeping to ‘high shine and sparkle’. Now when that is all done and you have your new ‘beacon post’ all shiny, tag it with the keyword and its variations, check meta description / SEO title etc (I use this free plugin for this: WordPress Seo by Yoast) and hit update post! Now there are only a few more things to do:
- Redirect the urls of the posts you are NOT keeping to the ‘beacon post’.
- Test that all works well.
- Caveat: Make a note of the urls of the now redundant posts!
- Delete the now redundant posts.
Redirecting the urls ensures that any links that ‘might’ point to the now deleted posts will now go to your shiny beacon post, or, at least not to a 404 error page. This can be done in two ways:
- Use the free link juice keeper plugin. This means when somebody, human or search engine bot, tries to access your site via an url that doesn’t exist anymore, it will be automatically re-directed, via a 301 permanent re-direct, to your home page. If you suspect that the posts you have deleted / are about to delete have only a few low value links, this might be a feasible option, at least the link juice goes to your home page, not to an obscure 404 page and is not lost. It is also a set and forget set-up, so ideal if you feel a bit lazy.
- If instead the posts you deleted have a lot of links, or even only one, but high value, link pointing to them and / or have already acquired a page rank, it would be better to do one of the following:
Redirecting deleted urls to another url with .htaccess:
For this you must first take note of your old url and then you can do one of the following:
Edit your .htaccess file, if you are already using the free SEO by Yoast plugin you can do it directly there, under ‘Edit Files’ in the settings.
Via your cpanel in your hosting account, look for something called ‘redirects’ or ask your hosting support where to find it.
Or by editing the .htaccess (robots.txt) file directly.
In all these cases, what you are looking to do is to add the following info to your .htacess file:
Redirect 301 http://yourdomain.com/deleted-post http://yourdomain.com/beacon-post
Which translates into ‘human’ to ‘Redirect permanently from http://yourdomain.com/deleted-post to http://yourdomain.com/beacon-post.
Like always, before making any major changes to your website, please back-up your site and if you are not sure what you are about to do, don’t do it (or at least not on a live site) and ask a professional! For a full read up on the whole subject of .htaccess redirection, I recommend having a look here: http://webmaster.iu.edu/tool_guide_info/redirect.shtml
Ok, here the checklist and step-by-step list of
‘Keyword Strategy Tips – How To Clean Up a Messed Up Stroke Established Site’
- Sign-Up to Keyword Strategy’s free trial.
- Set-up a project for the site you want to clean up.
- Ask for an overlapping content report.
- Analyze your overlapping content report working through the list keyword by keyword.
- Re-assign or clear all false positives.
- Tag urls that target the same keyword with something comprehensible.
- Identify potential beacon article.
- Merge the other articles, that tackle the same keyword, into beacon article.
- Improve and polish up beacon article with spell, grammar and external link checks and additional info / media.
- Redirect the urls of the competing articles to the beacon article.
- Test redirect.
- Delete the competing articles.
- Rinse and repeat 4. to 12. with next keyword.
- Check from time to time your progress by asking for a new ‘overlapping content report.
- Enjoy better search engine rankings, more visitors and ultimately more income!
This seems like a lot of work, but if you have an established site that is in good standing with Google, i.e. indexes and ranks quickly, it is well worth the effort. Oh yes, your traffic also will go up magically (ok, not magically, rather logically) and following this your income from your website will increase. If you have read until here, but still haven’t signed up to Keyword Strategy, here again my friendly >>>affiliate link<<<. As I said, free thirty days trial, what do you have to lose?
Do you have a website that targets the same keyword over and over again? What is your approach to this problem, do you try to clean it up or do you simply ditch the site and start all over agin? Care to share in a comment?
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