How we doubled the Good Web Guide’s organic traffic by removing half of their content

Objectives

The Good Web Guide celebrates the best of the internet, lovingly curating the sites, apps, and people worth following. Unfortunately, their own website began to suffer due to technical issues, which caused significant harm to keyword rankings and, by extension, their organic web traffic.

When we first started working together in September 2018, we had to get to the root of the problem fast. An in-depth analysis of the website revealed an SEO technical health score of 43% (meaning 57% of the site’s 10,000+ pages were experiencing critical issues), and so we had our objective: fix the errors, restore SEO health, and drive quality traffic back to the site.

Strategy

Search engine algorithms are complex and ever-changing, but many things continue to hold true. Namely, the fact that search engines favour (and reward) sites that are technically sound and provide a high-quality user experience. These sites tend to rank high. 

On the flip-side, a website with broken links, broken pages (404 errors), slow load times, duplicate content, and more, will often be punished with lower search rankings. 

And with a technical SEO health score of 43%, this meant the Good Web Guide was being dragged down by over half of its own pages.

Our strategy, therefore, was two-pronged. First, we’d identify and fix the issues highlighted by our technical audit, and second, we’d undertake a full-scale content audit to ensure only the highest quality content was being published going forward.

Action

If the Good Web Guide was a ship, then it was taking on water. Its rankings were sinking while its traffic (ironically) was drying up. So, we set about patching up the biggest holes first, prioritising the errors and issues with the most significant impact on SEO performance. 

This included lots of 404 errors, internal and external broken links, missing H1 tags, duplicate and/or missing meta, unoptimised imagery, redirect loops, and pages with low word counts. Once we had the site back on an even keel, we provided the brilliant content writers at the Good Web Guide with some core SEO training to help them boost future organic performance.

And speaking of content, we followed up our crucial technical fixes with a detailed content audit, reviewing traffic, engagement, and rankings of the key pages across the site. This left us with a few important decisions. Do we keep, repurpose, or delete certain pieces of content? 

In a ruthless pursuit of perfection, we removed over half the site’s content, replacing it with rich, heavily-researched, long-tail, keyword-focused content. Or, in other words, we chose quality over quantity — and the results were phenomenal.

Results

Following our optimisations, we saw the site’s technical SEO health score grow from 43% to 86%. For such a large content-heavy site, this progress is nothing short of remarkable.

Meanwhile, we’re seeing year-on-year increases in organic traffic growth every month. A standout statistic is a whopping 214% increase in organic traffic, even accounting for the pandemic-related dip in demand around May and June 2020. That’s double the organic traffic, after having reduced the number of published pages and posts by over 50%

50%

reduction in pages

214%

increase in organic traffic

222%

increase in new users

“It’s fair to say that our traffic has skyrocketed since working with Zest! They took the time to understand our business, identify the issues, and deliver a tailor-made solution aligned with our goals. They’ve also given us the confidence and know-how to create content that will boost our search rankings and grow our business. I wouldn't hesitate recommending Zest to other businesses looking to improve the technical side of their websites, SEO and content. My one regret is that we should have started working with them years ago."
Arabella Dymoke, Owner of The Good Web Guide
50%

reduction in pages

214%

increase in organic traffic

222%

increase in new users

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