We tend to think of our sites as constantly growing. More pages. More content. And that is indeed true for certain types of domains. For example, news sites will always be generating more stuff. The same is true for social media or opinion bloggers. But not all sites need to be constantly growing. Some can do just fine with a limited number of high-quality pages.
As your website continues to accumulate content, you should always be on the lookout for opportunities to merge underperforming pages into existing ones. This serves a two-fold purpose:
- It removes a piece of content that wasn’t doing anything for your site
- It improves another – perhaps more valuable – page
Doing this is a win on all fronts. It’s important to monitor which pages on your site barely receive any traffic, and then repurpose the content elsewhere. For large sites, this can be a time-consuming process. But even smaller sites should look for merging opportunities.
Here’s how to do it.
Step 1: Identify Low Performing Pages in the Google Search Console and Export them
Assuming you have a Google Search Console account (and if not, why not?!), you can export the Performance report into an Excel sheet. Here’s a screenshot of my site WP-Tweaks in the search console with the export function highlighted.
Once you have your pages in Excel, navigate to the “Pages” tab and use the data filters to remove the ones you’re not interested in. “Category” or “Tag” pages. Or those with the hash (#) mark in them. From here, you can get an idea of which pages are doing badly. Start with the low-hanging fruit. Pages that have never received any traffic in the past few months for example.
Step 2: Find Related Pages that Are Doing “Ok”
The next step is to find pages into which you can merge the low-performing pages from step 1. To do this, use the Google search console to see which keyword Google thinks the low-performing pages were ranking for. By looking at this, you should be able to identify a suitable article on your site that already targets those keywords in some manner.
Find one that needs a little boosting. Ideally, something that ranks on the second page of Google for a few juicy search queries.
Step 3: Merge the Article from Step 1 into the One from Step 2
Take the content from the first step, and insert it into an appropriate place in the one from the second step. Make sure to proofread the whole merged article in its entirety so that it makes sense. You might have to get rid of some superfluous content for it to flow well.
Also, take this opportunity to update any irrelevant or outdated information from both articles. It’s good to have everything fresh!
Step 4: Unpublish the Article from Step 1
I’m uncomfortable deleting anything, so I simply go to the WordPress editor and unpublish the first article so that it’s now a draft. That way I’ll always have access to it if I want to for some reason.
Step 5: Create a 301 Redirect from the First Article to the Second
This step is important! You don’t want the search engines or users to hit a 404 when they find a link to the first article. I’ve previously written a tutorial on how to create redirects in WordPress without a plugin, but for this purpose, you might want to have a dedicated plugin like this one. Create a redirect regardless of query parameters, and you should be good to go!
Step 6: Monitor the Results
Here’s a screenshot of the performance of one of my merged articles:
As you can see, it got a pretty big boost from the expanded content. Do this regularly for your site and you’ll see a steady stream of improvements for important pages!
I’m a NameHero team member, and an expert on WordPress and web hosting. I’ve been in this industry since 2008. I’ve also developed apps on Android and have written extensive tutorials on managing Linux servers. You can contact me on my website WP-Tweaks.com!