The Japanese clean-up guru Marie Kondo has sold millions of books worldwide, and her hype on Netflix brings the hype back on track. According to her philosophy, you can only keep stuff that sparks joy: things that make you happy. You have to say goodbye to the rest. Let us apply that principle to our digital content. Is your website still that inspiring place that really makes people happy? Do your visitors have a reason to love you and follow you? Do you still spark joy?
A lot of people do not a great spring cleaning anymore, but the first spring sun is a good time to get the broom through your online channels. A slimmed-down and tidy website, or timeline, ensures that visitors see your distinctiveness crystal clear and sincerely welcome what you have to offer. It is a small, digital gift for them. Small but valuable. And that, concluded BuzzSumo, contributes to good user experience and eventually yields a higher conversion.
Clean up your website for higher conversion
Just like at home, you sometimes get stuck in the enormous amount of stuff on a website. Articles are aging, certain themes come under a layer of dust and the loading time of pages is unnoticed because there is just too much stuff to be loaded. It costs your visitor energy, and it sparks no joy. You deliver the bounces, and people stay shorter on your page, your click-through rate (CTR) drops and Google would then be able to judge hard that your website offers insufficient value. The result: you drop in the search results.
Time for a big cleaning. You focus on content that makes your visitor happy. Content that offers incredible value and that inspires visitors to become faster, better or smarter. And you always ask yourself: does this spark joy?
Checklist for cleaning your website:
How do you start? A step-by-step plan, like that of Marie Kondo, offers something to hold on to.
1. First, determine the quality criteria for your blogs or articles
What sparks joy? Your content must be complete, reliable, up-to-date, relevant and easy to read. How were the visits last year? Does it still fit with your services? Is the person for whom you wrote the article still your ideal customer? Do you write for young target groups? Pay extra attention to positive content and constructive reporting. And is the story that tells you enough included, or do you unconsciously exclude certain groups?
2. Work systematically
Always start with articles that you have the least emotional connection with. That way you get the taste quickly, and you will notice that ‘relaxing’ gives a good feeling. Cleaning up is a win-win situation. This checklist will help you on your way.
✓ Start with outdated content. Go through systematically all articles and pages per year, starting with the oldest. Do they have a goal? Or have they fulfilled their value and can you say goodbye now? Does the content still contribute to what you find important? Visitors want to take a few steps as possible to find what they need. Outdated content is a risk that you do not want to run.
✓ Look for dead links, both incoming and outgoing. Check embedded videos, because if they are removed in the original place, the visitor looks at your website on a large, black surface instead of a nice video.
✓ Search via Google Analytics for the exit pages and/or articles or pages with a high bounce and a short reading time. Probably visitors came to your website via a search engine, clicked on the article, did not find what they were looking for (dated, outdated, or not the right context) and dropped out. The spark is extinguished.
✓ The media library. Remove any media that is no longer being used. Start at the back with the oldest media. Have you ever copied images from the internet? Check everything on copyright and immediately discard what you do not have the right to do, or you do not know where they come from.
✓ Do you use WordPress? Take a critical look at the installed plugins. Are they really needed? Will they still be updated? Or do they make your website unnecessarily slow? Inactive plugins are also loaded by WordPress and therefore take time. Speed is a ranking factor for Google, a short loading time keeps both the search engine giant and your visitors happy.
✓ Also look at your backlinks, for example, map them with the help of a Backlink Checker. By critically examining the value of these backlinks, you can assess whether they may have a negative impact on your ranking. In that case, ask whether they can be removed or ask Google to ignore certain links when indexing your site.
✓ Whitepapers, manuals, and free e-books. Are they still up-to-date? Are there obsolete screenshots? Are your text and your offer still irresistible?
3. Keep, throw away or recycle?
While evaluating your content, you divide everything you see on your screen in 3 categories.
Throw away. It is not (or no longer) insanely valuable. You want to do this neatly because otherwise your content will be indexed and that will cause errors. That sparks no joy. Create redirects or use Google Webmaster Tools, for example, to create a robots.txt file that excludes the deleted content. If that does not work, you can ask Google to stop indexing certain content.
Save. It offers your visitor inspiration and helps them with what they want to achieve. You spark joy!
Adjust, update and recycle; with a small adjustment, it lets (again) skip a spark to your customer.
Think carefully about the latter category. Here are opportunities for a party! Because you now have knowledge and experience that you did not have a few years ago. There are new developments and revised publications. If possible, adjust your content to the quality criteria and rewrite, update and recycle. Discard long-winded intros, write good intermediate headings, add new footage, carefully check your meta-descriptions and always make sure that your visitor is encouraged to click further. And keep asking yourself at every step: does it spark joy?
4. Clean up
After throwing away or recycling, you can clean up Marie. That means that you store everything in a logical, clearly visible place. You now only have super-content left, and that can be seen. Joy! As a final step, you take a closer look at your navigation structure. Are the categories still right? Is it clear to visitors on every page what the next click should be? Has the customer journey on your website become the party of the year?
5. Celebrate your success
Last but not least, always thank yourself and your colleagues after a clean-up action. It was not easy, because people attach to their content. Celebrate your success! Promote your quality criteria. Spark joy!