May 7, 2021

BACK TO BASICS: The Step-By-Step Guide to Link Pruning

Thought I'd share a tactic that we've been using really successfully at in order to build new, relevant backlinks each month. In the past three months, we've built 120 links (read: from 120 different domains) without creating any net new content -- yet, we've placed content on each of the site to get a link.
Not making any sense? No, this is not some bizarre SEO riddle, it's actually a tactic that we've been applying for a little while now and is so simple it hurts that I'd not thought to do this sooner than we had...
What is it?
One of the things that we regularly do across our content-heavy website is to prune content that fits into the following buckets:
1. It's not perfectly related to our core offering (on a topic level).
2. It's generated zero backlinks.
3. It's generating under 40-50 organic visits per month.
I talk about the pruning process in way more detail within my video Extracting Maximum Organic Value From Existing Content (in the thread below).
We publish between 200-300 net new articles onto our blog every month, so this process helps us ensure that all of our content is delivering value and is 100% semantically aligned. Now, the last prune of the blog that we did result in around 600 articles being removed... this is where Pruning for Links comes in.
In short: we take all of the content that we've pruned and offer it out as content for guest posts on other sites. While it wasn't the right fit for our exact needs/success criteria, there's still a huge amount of that content that is really well written and still relevant for other sites.
Once we've pruned the content, we serve 410 response codes on the old URLs (and sometimes push for manual removal from the index via Search Console) so that the articles are no longer indexed. Then, we began the process of sifting through all of the pruned content to see which could be a fit for other sites, which is too focused to live elsewhere, and which content is just outdated and no longer a good fit at all.
This is then when we get a list down to an amount that we can pitch out to other sites.
When is this valuable?
1. If you have a site made up of a lot of informational content that you publish regularly.
2. If one of your challenges from a link-building perspective is actually creating content for link-building.
One big PSA: do NOT just start culling a ton of content from your site that could actually drive organic traffic and convert in the future. If you're already looking at pruning content, this is just a great way to recycle that content to get more from it.
Hope this helps

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