Yup. You heard that right. Zombies have somehow made their way into the world of the internet (and soon, they will be on our doorsteps). There exist pages on your website that are neither alive nor dead. In other words, they are zombies!
What are zombie pages?
Now, what does “neither alive nor dead” mean in the world of SEO? It means that these pages generate very little traffic to your website and are pretty difficult to be detected by search engines. They don’t help your site rank higher on search results, they don’t encourage the viewers to explore your site and overall, they are pretty useless! Zombie pages are like that ugly piece of furniture in your living room that you really should get rid of, but you don’t because it’s too much work.
Why do zombie pages exist?
Zombie pages were created for multiple reasons. These reasons include irrelevant and unappealing content, not updating the page regularly and websites creating a page just for the sake of implementing certain keywords. For instance, when you google “download free stock pictures”, there might be a result that directs you to a completely irrelevant site about music, because the webmasters used certain keywords on that page. After a while, that page will turn into a zombie. It’s basically like clickbait videos on YouTube that might grant some views at the beginning but after a while, they will hurt the channel’s integrity and also YouTubers to lose subscribers (looking at you, RiceGum!).
Google has stated many times that pages should be made for users, not search engines and deceiving users will result in pages becoming obsolete.
There might be other factors that come to play when discussing zombie pages. Factors like pages not being SEO-friendly responsive.
Why should zombie pages be dealt with?
As mentioned above, zombie pages are “difficult” to be detected by search engines, but they still get indexed by them. “So, what does that mean?” you ask. It means that as much as your strong pages with good content will increase your metrics (like domain authority and so forth) and bring organic traffic, zombie pages will decrease those metrics and bring zero valuable traffic. Not only do zombie pages discourage users from exploring your website, but they will also hurt your site’s rankings. Now the name zombie makes more sense. They are dead pages that will ultimately kill your website.
Now we know what the problem is, why it exists and why we should solve it. So, let us get to the more interesting “How can we solve it” part.
STEP 1: Detect zombie pages
We know that zombie pages generate almost zero organic traffic. With that in mind, we can look for pages on our site that don’t contribute enough views, but this process can be quite difficult if we don’t know where to start. That is because there are too many pages on a normal website for us to go through one by one. But with the help of Google Analytics, we can check the metrics of weaker pages easier. You can find a detailed walkthrough here. Another viable method of detecting zombie pages is using Google Search Console. Give this article a read if you want to learn more about that one.
STEP 2: Refine your content
Google doesn’t take kindly to pages with useless and unengaging content. As much as SEO methods help your site rank higher on search results, good content makes sure that those who visit your site engage with it. No one knows exactly how the Google algorithm detects bad content, but we know that for every piece of content that exists, Google has thousands, nay, millions of samples to compare it with. Having said that, it isn’t that hard to realize that an article titled “5 ways to get views in 2015” will not be seen by people who search “how to get more views” on Google in 2021. Therefore, it is essential to update your pages as much as you can with the best content you can create. Start with the blogs that have less than 500 words and work your way down to the pages you haven’t updated for a long time. Also, remember that blogging is only ONE way to produce good content. Don’t shy away from posting videos, infographics and how-to guides on your site. Always remember the wise words of a certain person named bill: “Content is King!”
STEP 3: Make your pages SEO-friendly
Look, I wish I could tell you that we live in a simple world where working hard and creating good content or offering good products or services will guarantee you millions of views and customers and you have nothing to worry about other than working on what you have to offer in this digital world. I really wish everything was that simple, but it simply is not. The reason for that is quite simple: There are 1.88 billion websites on the internet and if you don’t somehow stand out, there is no way for you to be seen!
But fret not, it isn’t impossible to make your pages unique enough to stand out. You can start by implementing relevant keywords, auditing your content, improving page speed and responsiveness and optimising your URL. You can find more information about that here.
STEP 4: Delete zombie pages
You did the best you could to prevent the virus from spreading, but ultimately the best way to get rid of the infection is…to shoot the zombies in the head? Or burn them? Why do zombie movies and TV shows all present a different way to kill the undead? Anyways…what I am trying to convey is that you can’t always save your pages from turning. You might not have the time or resources to fix EVERY single one of them. Sometimes it’s best to just delete your zombie pages before they bring down your SEO metrics and performance speed.
It is always better to have a few good pages rather than having a lot of dead pages. Plus, it wouldn’t be such a pain to index all those pages for Google. Just be careful which zombie pages you decide to shoot in the head. For instance, you might want to leave category tabs or legal notices intact because deleting them might hurt your site’s performance. The ones you should consider deleting are outdated blogs (for example, in 5 years, people might not be interested in learning about how to start a business during the pandemic, hopefully), services and products you no longer provide and basically, any page that offers no value to your domain.
Among many things that have been taught to us by pop culture is the fact that people don’t like zombies! Be it on the big or silver screen or the web. The idea of an undead being that infects other things is generally abhorred, especially if they intend to ruin everything they touch. It is the same case when you are managing a website and aim to rank higher on SERPs. If you want your website to perform better and generate organic traffic, you have to either fix your zombie pages or get rid of them altogether, lest they infect your site with the perform-horrendously-on-SERPs virus!