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A ROT Analysis – How You Boost SEO and Traffic For Old Content

Ever wonder if you should delete old content or just let it live on for eternity? I have heard people say that you should never delete old content, and that’s just not true. Part of any good content strategy should be performing a ROT analysis on your content set. This includes content that is on your website or on your social networks such as Instagram.

What is a ROT analysis?

A ROT analysis helps identify content that is either Redundant, Outdated, or Trivial – these will be the buckets.  Organizing your website content into these buckets will give you the ability to further analyze your content sets based on data and insights. The results from the analysis will lead to either deleting the content, rewriting the content completely or refreshing the content and republishing it.

A ROT analysis should be done every six months or so to keep your content fresh and relevant.

Why Perform a ROT Analysis for SEO?

To Positively Impact Website Crawl Budget For SEO

Google has mentioned on many occasions the term “crawl budget.” This term means that, in theory, a website has a defined amount of value (IMO based on the authority and inbound links). That value can support a specific number of pages of content. The more content a website has, the less value each piece of content gets. Thus removing or consolidating ROT content will help the best articles get crawled and get the most value.

To Prune Outdated Content

There are very few things that annoy users more than clicking on a search result they think is timely content and finding the content to be years old. This can be due to an old product, an old event, or just an old article that has data or content claims that are no longer valid.

To Refocus SEO Keywords

There are a couple of reasons you might want to re-write an article. One of the primary reasons is that the keyword set that was initially targeted does not represent current vernacular or trends.

Consolidate Near Duplicate Content

Over time, you will most likely write a ton of articles, and there may be a few that cover topics that are similar. These articles can be consolidated into a single article to help build a more inclusive long-form piece of content and focus value.

Quick note: If you consolidate two or more pieces of content, make sure you 301 redirect the old URLs to the primary URL you use.

Delete Outdated Content

There are many reasons for abandoning a piece of content and just deleting it together. These reasons can be: it’s an old event, an old news topic that is irrelevant, or maybe your views or the information about the topic is no longer correct.

Quick note: If you delete a piece of content, make sure you 301 redirect the old URL to a similar article or to the category of that article.

How to do a ROT Analysis

 Step 1:

A ROT analysis starts by defining the goals and criteria for your content analysis and what you’ll define as trivial. Will the audit criteria be based on traffic, sales, brand value, social shares, etc.?

  • If your website is built to drive advertising dollars, you’ll probably want to set the primary criteria based on traffic and page views and the secondary criteria on social shares.
  • If you’re an eCommerce website, you’ll probably want to make sure you focus on conversions first. This will make sure you don’t delete a piece of content that converts at a high rate but does not drive a ton of traffic.

Step 2:

Once you have your goal and criteria outlined, you’ll want to export a complete list of your pages and the data points needed to analyze the content from your Google Analytics program.

One thing to note: if you publish content frequently, you’ll probably want to exclude the current month from this data pull. Recently published articles may not have enough data to provide statistically valid insights.

Step 3:

Once you have the data pulled, there are a few questions you will want to ask yourself about the data set.

  1. Are there articles that are covering similar or redundant topics that can be consolidated?
  2. Are there articles that are outdated – such as events or timely content that should be deleted or rewritten to make them relevant?
  3. Are there articles that don’t meet the minimum Google or user requirements (trivial) and should either be deleted or rewritten?