Top SEO tips to implement in 2020. No 2: Zombie Pages

Phew, so we’ve made it out of January. We all agreed last time, rather than being a month of new beginnings, it’s just a month of driving rain and blue Monday. Great, so now onto February. So far, it’s not getting any better though, as storm after storm wreaks havoc.

So, as we need something to focus on while we bunker down out of the weather, we thought SEO tip no 2 for 2020 could focus on a good ol’ clear out – a way to get your digital presence working for you again.

Recently we’ve been addressing the issue of bluff and bluster that seems to dominate public life these days; claim much and deliver little – promises are swept off with the latest passing storm, because who’s keeping count? In our last blog, we looked at how fake news and lack of truthfulness in public life has highlighted the value of trust – making it a valued commodity.

The same principle applies to digital marketing – it changes constantly, so keeping track of who knows what and who is doing what is easy to let slip. One principle is clear though: action is required to make meaningful changes in order to affect your SEO results.

So, this time we continue addressing how to keep improving your SEO for 2020, ‘one tip at a time’. This time we’re taking on zombie pages, continuing our:

Top SEO tips you need to implement in 2020

Last time we gave you three things to focus on:

No 1: E-A-T

If you can’t quite remember how to implement all of this, you can catch up here. Now onto:

No 2: Zombie Pages (get rid of them)

What are zombie pages?

Digital seems to love the term ‘zombie’ for some unknown reason. Aren’t zombies fictional creatures what wander around horror films? They are the undead creatures, affected by some unexplained and unscientific virus that makes them want to eat humans – for no apparent reason…

Putting aside the obvious lack of logical connection to digital marketing, you will hear the zombie term used in relation to whole websites in the digital space – ‘there are now 1.71 billion websites, but most of them are zombies‘. You may be surprised to hear that in other words, most websites are just dormant, either not in use altogether, or once used, but never updated. Of the 1.71 billion, only 200 million are functional. Wow, that is a lot of dormant, useless information out there…

What are Zombie Pages?

Zombie pages are based on the same principle as zombie sites – they are either pages that are completely dormant, usually because they lack any interesting material and are therefore of no interest to anyone. If the majority of 1.71 billion whole websites are dysfunctional, the number of useless individual pages will be astronomical.

According to SEO expert Brian Dean, founder of SEO site Backlinko: “Every site has pages that provide zero value (aka “Zombie Pages”)…Zombie pages are pages are pages on your site that don’t bring in any traffic. They are just sorta…there.”

Does this describe your website – ‘just sorta there?’ Have a look at some of your pages. No really, have a good luck, read them. Are they relevant, up-to-date, interesting, filled with great, relevant, attention grabbing content? We’ll let you decide on that – but why does it really matter anyway?

Why do zombie pages matter?

Back to Britain, who says: “This is one of the few SEO techniques that seems to ALWAYS work.

But why is that? We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: because quality matters in a crowded space where everyone is competing for attention. And Google prioritises this- having said openly that they prefer “one stronger page versus many smaller pages“. They just don’t want to rank sites that are filled with wafer-thin, low-quality content. This means that by deleting or updating Zombie Pages, you can achieve higher rankings and increase Google traffic.

Brian also quotes an extreme example of this:

“ saw their organic search traffic increase by 88.3% after deleting 40 thousand Zombie Pages from their site”.

analytics data

As we say, that might be extreme – not many businesses have 40k pages in total, let alone 40k to get rid of. But the principle remains the same, no matter what size your website is: If 50% of your site consists of useless pages this will push you down in rankings in relation to your competitors, no matter how many pages that actually represents.

So how do we deal with Zombie pages?

One of two things.

1. Update and optimise them

In order to get Google to start recognising and ranking your pages you need some rehabilitation work.

2. Delete them!

Quite a simple one this – get rid of your zombie pages.

But with a word of caution: have a read of your pages, one by one. Some pages will be required even if they haven’t been updated or don’t get many views, for example terms and conditions/legal scripts, and some will contain essential links which cannot just be deleted. It might be possible to combine these pages with others, but some not.

Otherwise you need to look for:

What now?

So, there we have it. One tip and 2 easy options to get on with for your February clear out. As we mentioned before, don’t get hoodwinked into pointless activity, just deliver authoritative content and start transforming your digital presence. If you need some help with that however, then get in touch – we’d love to hear from you!

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