Content Audits: What to do With Valueless Content

By Rob Woods | SEO

Mar 16

If your site (or your client’s site) has been around for a while, or you’ve gone to great lengths to build a lot of content for it, there’s a chance some of that content isn’t really providing any value to the site. Maybe it’s buried deep in the site, is low-quality, has too few inbound links, or possibly just outdated. Having valueless content puts a site at risk for a Panda hit. What can you do about it?
The solution is a content audit, which will answer two important questions:

  • What content does the site have?
  • What content is providing value?

Once you’ve identified valueless content, you and your client may have to make some tough decisions about what to do with it. I recommend following these steps to identify and classify content, and then help your client make those decisions.

1. Create a List of All Content Pages

First, it’s important to note that this applies to non-ecommerce pages. I’m only referring to blog posts, resource pages, and any other page that’s not selling anything. This can be a pretty time-consuming task if you do it manually. Instead, consider using a tool like Screaming Frog to automatically generate a list of all the URLs on your site. Remember that Screaming Frog has a couple of limitations, so you’ll still want to check for orphan pages to make sure you get everything.
Place that list into a spreadsheet. Then you can sort and isolate your content pages. You’re also going to be creating several more columns.

2. Document Inbound Links

Once you have your list of URLs, create a column for Inbound Links, and mark the URLs that have more than zero (0) inbound links. I like to do this with Moz’s Open Explorer with the Top Pages report. Export the report, which should include all of your linked to pages. Sort by ascending Number of Linking Domains (note that you’ll usually treat 1 linking domain as 0 as that domain is likely your own).

top linked to pages report - MOZ


3. Document Social Shares

Same process as above, creating a column for Social Shares, and marking the pages that have zero (0) social shares. You may find some overlap between external links and social shares. That’s OK. As you continue the labeling and narrowing down, it will become easier to see which pages are providing value, and which ones aren’t.

4. Document Traffic

Now create a column for Page Visits, and identify which pages have had less than five visits per month for a specified number of months, say the last three. Again, you may see some overlap. The next step will address that.

low trafic

5. Cross-Reference Your Lists

Now you can create a new list of all the page that have:

  • NO inbound links AND
  • NO social shares AND
  • FEW visits

You now have a list of content on the site that is providing little to no value. Now the question is, what do you do with it? You have a few options.

Rewrite It

Maybe a page isn’t getting a lot of social shares or visits because the information is outdated. Depending on what it is, updating can be pretty easy. It could also be that the writing is poor. You can recommend that the client rewrite it, or if they don’t have the time or resources, it may be time to bring in a professional copywriter.

Move the Content to a Better Location

Do you have a really good page that’s just buried and difficult to find? Move it to a higher level, or to a popular, high-traffic area of the site to get the page noticed and visited.

Delete It

This is counter-intuitive when the name of the game, especially for SEO, used to be that more is better. Not only is that no longer the case, but too much content that people don’t care about can actually hurt you, thanks to Panda.

This should still be your last resort, though. Never throw away good content. If it just needs updating, or if moving it can help, try that first. If deleting is the best option, provide your client with a list of pages to be deleted, as well as a list of URLs to redirect each deleted page to.

Meet Me!

I’ll be doing a Site Clinic at Pubcon Vegas in October and I’ll have a handful of SEO tools queued up and ready to quickly diagnose site issues. Please feel free to come say hello and ask any questions about performing a content audit.


Reprinted by permission from

About the Author

Leave a Comment:

Leave a Comment: