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Ranking Up, Day 117: Cleaning Out Unrelated Content is Painful; but Necessary

If you’re familiar with our SEO blog, you’ll know we’ve mentioned Google’s E-E-A-T algorithm a number of times. It stands for experience, expertise, authority, and trust. The central concept boils down to are you an expert on the topic, does your website have indicators that your readers trust your content, and is it being shared around the internet through common social signals like link building and social media shares.

One of the key aspects of being an expert on any topic is that, by definition, you can’t be an expert on all topics.

And this brings us to a rather painful few months for us when it comes to our Top 100 keyword rankings.

Sage’s history

Before we get to the painful part and why we chose to head down that path, it’s important to understand our history and how we became an SEO company. We didn’t start as an SEO software platform. In fact, we began as a Q&A website back in March of 2020. After experimenting for a few months running Google and Facebook ads, we quickly realized this was a race to the bottom for us.

That’s when we turned to SEO. We started out by experimenting with technical SEO, optimizing our single question pages with schema markups, twitter tags, meta titles and meta descriptions, etc. This resulted in a modest bump of 7 keywords in the Top 100 to 85 keywords in the Top 100 of Google.

Emboldened by some results, we decided to start testing out keyword research, modifying our approach, and optimizing it within answers to the questions. And yes, we answered some of our own questions as very early-stage Q&A startups tend to do, including both Reddit and Quora.

At the same time, we decided to launch a technology blog. The point of the blog was to write content, highly optimized for keywords using tools like ahrefs.com and SEMrush. We took everything we knew about SEO and put it into that blog. We posted 3-4 posts a month, nothing too crazy. But each of those posts was chock full of highly searched, easy-to-rank-for keywords, and covered topics people were searching for.

It was a technology blog and we explored topics like “how to optimize Google Wifi in your home” or “how to connect Zoom to your GSuite”. It worked, and quite well. By August of 2021, we ranked for almost 1,500 keywords in the top 100 of Google and were seeing about 1500 monthly organic search hits to our website.

Sage SEO's website ranked for over 1500 keywords in August of 2021

A painful decision

Fast forward to 2023 and we’ve used this knowledge and experience to codify what we learned into the SEO SaaS platform you see and use today.

By January of 2023, we were seeing almost 5,000 organic hits a month, most of which had absolutely nothing to do with SEO or small business marketing. The visitors arriving to our domain to learn about creating a template in Notion had absolutely no interest or search intent to learn about SEO or to market their businesses.

This was hurting our experience, expertise, authority, and trust with Google. We couldn’t completely quantify it, but we could see a lack of conversions and a lack of engagement from those visitors. A quick look at our organic visitors and their bounce rates (visitors only viewed one page on the website) tells the story of just how disengaged they were with the rest of our content:

We knew we needed to make a change and remove all of our old tech blog content and weather the proverbial storm.

And storm it has.

The impact of cleaning out unrelated content

You can see the impact of our decision to remove almost 30 articles that were all tech blog-style posts. Our Top 100 keywords dropped from over 5,200 in January to approximately 360 now.

But the devil is in the details and the following two charts show exactly why we did this and the potential to truly help our SEO traffic that exists.

Top 10 search queries for sageseo.ai on Google in January 2023

Now, let’s take a look at our Top 10 search queries for the most recent 30 days. It’s quite a difference, right? We’ve gone from appearing in search results for things like “factory reset google nest” to appearing for “diy SEO software”. This is MUCH better and aligned perfectly with the search intent of potential website visitors who are much more likely to purchase our software.

Top 10 search queries for sageseo.ai on Google in April 2023

Less is more: unifying your message is key to establishing your authority

Making the decision was a hard one, but we felt like it was in the long-term best interest of our website to focus on content that helps people learn about and do the things we help with. That is to say, our content is focused on content marketing, small business marketing, SEO best practices and strategies, and helping small business owners and startups achieve first-page search engine rankings.

Time is going to tell whether we made the right decision or not. But I’m very confident we’re heading down the right path now.

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