Follow Up: Blog Post Homicide Investigation

Will Deleting Blog Posts Help Search Engine Rankings?

Bloggers want to know. It turns out that people have an emotional connection to their blog posts. Last week’s post, Murder Your Darlings to Improve Your Search Engine Ranking, made some people uncomfortable, and not just with the title. I suggested, based on a presentation by Bill Hartzer, that you could increase your website quality score, and thus your search engine ranking, by deleting low-quality blog posts. I recommend you read that article first, and then come back here.

how low-quality blog posts affect your search engine traffic and what to do about it.

Some of my blogger friends commented to me publicly and privately, provided advice, asked questions, and suggested alternatives, all with the hope of not having to cause authorial bloodshed. Was my advice the only way, or even the right way? Could Google be that cold-hearted? Their questions actually caused me some self doubt. Did I delete innocent victims?

So I reached out to Bill Hartzer, Senior SEO Strategist at Globe Runner. There was a lot to discuss, so I recorded the conversation for a special audio blog post in the player below. It’s nearly 30 minutes long, but filled with some important stuff about improving your search engine ranking and saving your darlings.

Bill Hartzer’s Advice

– Before you hit the delete key, enter the blog post title in Google and see if it ranks. It should rank #1 or at least in the top 3.  If it does, then you might consider leaving the blog post alone and not delete it.

– Choose either to use tags or categories, but not both. If you have a tag or category page with only one post, it will be considered duplicate content.

– Go into Webmaster tools and look at the crawl errors. If you get a crawl error on a post or page you’ve deleted, restore that post or page. As of this post writing, 11 days after deletion, I am not receiving crawl errors.

– After you write a post, socialize the post. Place the actual URL, not a shortened URL, and post it in Twitter and/or other social networks.

– Every social media share is a link to your page or post. Every time you get a re-tweet is another link. Social can definitely be used for link-building to your articles.

Questions from Other Bloggers

As I mentioned, some of my friends asked a few questions and raised some points. Hartzer was kind enough to answer:

Question from Chris Cree: Couldn’t you have just applied noindex/noarchive meta tags to accomplish the same thing?

Answer from Bill Hartzer: Yes. And in WordPress, you there are SEO plugins that allow you to apply these tags to post and pages.

Question from Paul Williams: Is there a plugin that would filter out the low-quality posts?

Answer: No, not specifically

Question from Paul Williams: Should I change these posts to “pending” and consider re-posting them with a refresh and see what happens then?

Answer: Yes, you can do that, but what may be better to do is to edit the post. Don’t totally re-write it, but make a small change to the post. After the edit, send the link out through your social networks.

Also thanks for advice and input from: Jack Leblond and John Moore

Note: My search engine referral traffic has decreased negligibly in the 10 days since the deletions. It is down .02% over the previous comparable 10-day period, .04% over the same period one year ago. Webmaster tools says I have no crawl errors.

Get Bill Hartzer’s know-how here:

BillHartzer.com
GlobeRunner.com


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Image Credit: Christian Schnettelker and Alan Cleaver

1 comments
jleblond
jleblond

I think using both tags and categories is ok as long as you use the "canonical" tag to define which URL is the primary for each post (you should be doing that anyway).  Also, I would expect Google to get errors after you delete something.  If it doesn't, that means they probably never knew it existed in the first place. Google should report a 'not found/404" error for a few crawls and eventually the bot will stop looking for it.  As I noted on your last post, if you have external links to the now dead post, and/or you posted updated content, you should have a 301 redirect in place.

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