Content Pruning: Give Your Website a Fresh Identity

Farmers and gardeners have to do more than hope for a fruitful harvest. One step for ensuring healthy fruiting is with pruning.

Trimming bits of a plant that are weak (or flat-out dying) redirects energy and promotes growth in healthy parts of the vegetation. Did you know that your content marketing teams can use a similar strategy?

Regular content pruning helps your content remain relevant to your target audience and gets enviable metrics. However, you can’t go chopping away haphazardly.

Learn what content pruning actually involves and how to do it right.

Key Takeaways:

  • By trimming underperforming pages, you maximize your crawl budget, letting search engines put a greater focus on your more valuable blog posts.
  • A smart content pruning strategy starts with an inventory and audit.
  • Schedule pruning in your team’s activities for it to be effective.
  • Instead of cutting all underperforming articles, you can also update many pages, incorporate the content into another page, or remove it from indexing.

Employ Content Pruning for a More Fruitful Strategy

Can’t you let your team just keep pumping out content and let the cream rise to the top? It no longer works that way for two important reasons.

The Audience

First, your audience doesn’t want to have to sift through mountains of valueless articles to find a few gems. Subpar content causes them to go elsewhere for guidance. Plus, your site will eventually become disorderly and difficult to navigate, frustrating and pushing away your audience.

Top-quality, timely content retains its relevance over time and positions your company as an industry thought leader. That raises your ranking in searches and the number of shares. As a result, you gain more organic traffic, backlinks, and perhaps even invitations to write guest blog posts.

The Algorithm

Second, Google’s algorithm gives priority to high-quality content. Its updates constantly seek ways to put the focus on sites that deliver value and freshness (much like the produce at your local grocery store).

Content pruning lets you get rid of or improve material that doesn’t display experience, expertise, authority, or trustworthiness. A well-maintained site that lives up to that standard gets higher scores in Google’s Search Quality Rating.

Also, remember that you have a crawl budget that affects your rankings. Search engines only dedicate so many resources to checking your pages. A lot of low-performing posts take attention away from top-notch blog posts and harm your SEO performance.

Adopt a Few Content Pruning Best Practices

If content pruning sounds like a lot of work and resources, it doesn’t have to be. Agriculturists know that three things can save them time and energy when pruning: starting with high-quality seed and soil, using the right tools, and keeping a consistent schedule.

Likewise, you can minimize the amount of pruning you have to do by making sure your team writes great content (seed and soil) in the first place. You rarely need to trim well-written, evergreen content. Focus on continually improving content planning and creation.

Additionally, as an ancient proverb says, “A dull ax requires great strength.” Finding outdated or underperforming content is going to be tough without a superb system that can help you keep an eye on everything and measure the metrics that tell you when it’s time to prune. For that reason, investing in a content operations platform saves time and money in the long run.

Furthermore, that software helps you stay on schedule. Farmers can’t change the seasons and have to stick to a routine that gets results. Keep a content calendar that includes pruning. You may only be able to do it quarterly at first, but monthly content pruning is ideal.

Start With a Content Inventory

If yours is like most companies we work with, you have a huge volume of content to audit. That’s why having these pieces at your fingertips on a comprehensive content operations platform makes your teams’ task easier.

Save time with a content inventory template. List everything, including videos, images, and PDFs. Then, for each piece, determine:

  • The target audience
  • What goal or conversion the content should be moving the audience toward
  • The search terms it should rank for

These elements make it easy to decide what content needs pruning.

Perform a Content Audit

Now, use your content analytics tool to locate your poorest performers. This becomes much simpler when you integrate auditing tools right into your content operations platform.

What should you look for?

Web Traffic and Conversions

The most basic metric is whether people are coming to your pages at all. You also need to know if those pages are getting clicks that are moving buyers to the next phase of the funnel or getting purchases. Remember, this applies to all content types, not just blogs.

Site auditing with DivvyHQ helps with content pruning.

Source: DivvyHQ

Outdated Links and Keywords

If you’ve ever had the frustration of clicking a dead link that promises valuable information, you can imagine how your audience feels about it. Whether it’s a statistic from 2012 or a link to a site that doesn’t exist anymore, it’s a wise idea to check URLs in older content. These are prime candidates for content pruning.

Likewise, your traffic may be low because you’re not targeting the keywords that your audience is using now. Verbiage and jargon changes, and so should your site. (As an example, Merriam-Webster added 690 new words in September 2023, many to do with AI.)

Also, the advent of mobile brought a sea change in the way people search. Instead of typing into a search bar, people are more likely to ask Siri or Alexa a question.

Your content needs to reflect these natural language searches. Doing so gives your audience a better user experience and your brand a chance to feature in Google snippets at the very top of the page.

Out-of-Date, Thin, or Duplicate Information

Obsolete information will kill your authority and trustworthiness. Look for outdated facts and flawed reasoning (possibly from a guest’s or former employee’s post). You should also check for plain old low-quality writing, images, or video production that would benefit from content pruning

Similarly, content that has little substance is only wasting your crawl budget and cluttering your site. The same is true for duplicate information. This cannibalizes your content by ranking for the same queries, harming your SEO.

Choose To Move, Remove, or Improve

Now, look at the content you’ve singled out for potential pruning. You’ll have to either make it better, put it somewhere else, relabel it, or chuck it entirely.


Some of your content serves a purpose but doesn’t contribute to better SEO performance. For example, these might be landing pages from social media, thank you pages, and customer forums. Label these with a “no index” tag so they don’t burn through your crawl budget and harm your SEO.

On the other hand, thin pieces might be better together with other posts. You could combine a few short items into a more comprehensive and authoritative piece. Or you can add the information from a lightweight piece to a more substantial article.


More often than not, you’ll use content pruning to trim only parts of content and add more to refresh your blog with updates. Replace outdated links with newer high-quality sources that rank well in searches. Update and optimize your use of keywords in older blogs.

Content collaboration comes in handy at this stage. A second, or even a third, pair of eyes can help you detect flaws or improvements a single reviewer might gloss over.

Your company might also have rebranded or adjusted its focus since you published a piece of content. If so, assign content teams to update it to reflect your new brand voice and appeal to your new customer segments. This step also helps you find older content that still performs well despite its age, which are great options for repurposing.

Content pruning also shows which pages to update, which leads to higher engagement.

Source: SEMRush


Only after you’ve determined you can’t do anything else with a piece of content should you decide to toss it in the recycle bin. Typically, you’re only pruning bits and pieces of content and updating them, but sometimes, a whole item has to go.

However, do so with care. Wholesale slicing and dicing can wreck your SEO, as CNET experienced when it deleted thousands of articles at once. There’s no penalty for old content. You just need to make sure it offers something of value.

Enjoy More Fruitful Marketing With Content Pruning

Content pruning is an essential part of keeping your site fresh and getting good traffic, so make it easy on yourself. A single platform on which you can find, prune, create, distribute, and analyze your content makes the process go a lot faster and produces more effective results.

DivvyHQ can provide you and your teams with such a place. Get in touch with our team for a free demo today.

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