"Content is king!"

How many times have we heard that refrain? It's almost become a clich now, with marketing departments in a constant, desperate struggle to create more content--and not always better content--in the race to reach the top of search engine results pages and drive more traffic to their pages.

In the world of content marketing, less has never been more. It doesn't help that marketing experts continually advise marketers to post new content all the time. Every day it seems there is someone telling business owners that they have to post X number of times per day or week, at specific times. While there is some validity to their recommendations, there comes a point when you must inevitably ask, "Is it all too much? Is creating all of this content really doing any good?"

The answer to that question, of course, comes down to your overall marketing strategy, and whether your efforts are furthering your business toward its goals. Ultimately, creating a ton of new content when your old content is dragging you down will prove frustrating, and isn't going to move your business forward. In short, it may be time to consolidate and prune your content.

Forget Content--Strategy Is King

Consolidating your content can take several forms:

Removing old content that is out of date, low quality, or no longer relevant.
Assessing content that serves similar purposes or covers similar topics, and consolidating them into a single, focused section or piece.
Evaluating the performance of specific content, and removing or revising those pieces that are underperforming.
Conducting audience analysis and revising content and placements to better meet the specific audience needs.
Optimizing content to meet different needs at various points of the sales funnel.
Reorganizing content so it is easy to find and in line with the buyer's journey.

Essentially, content consolidation means looking more closely at your content strategy, and better aligning the actual "stuff"--everything from blog posts to product descriptions and social media posts--with your overall strategic goals. By removing the content that is dragging down your search results, the stuff that isn't your best work or is duplicated, or that isn't in line with current SEO best practices, you stand to increase engagement with your audience and stay in Google's good graces.

The world of content marketing is changing. Where several years ago, quantity may have mattered over quality, and you just wanted to capture as many links as possible, there's now a marked shift toward content marketing as a stepping stone toward thought leadership. In other words, your content isn't just a tool for driving traffic to your site. It should be designed to demonstrate your authority and your credibility, and tell your brand story.

Your audience doesn't want to read yet another blog post telling them what they can easily find in a basic Google search or regurgitating what other people think about something. They want to see something fresh and useful, something that makes them say "Yes! I want to do business with this company."

Getting a Handle on Your Content

Unless you have just started your content marketing efforts, or you are already working within a structured strategy, you probably have an abundance of content--and not all of it is supporting your brand story and authority.

The first step to a consolidation project, then, is to conduct a content audit. This is a time-consuming process, but it will provide actionable insights to inform your content strategy. Most businesses start with an audit of their own sites, looking for such as issues as incomplete or outdated copy, valuable copy hidden in pop-ups, duplicate copy, and overall site structure. Fixing those problems alone can make a significant different in your site performance.

However, there is one key issue to be aware of when consolidating content. Some businesses that have gone through the consolidation process report a significant drop in traffic. Scott Stenzel, marketing director for Personal Comfort Beds, saw this firsthand when his team removed outdated product pages from the site, but the eventual payoff was an improvement to overall site performance.

"We had quite a bit of old content on our site--old press announcements about new adjustable bed products and the like," says Stenzel. "These pages saw traffic, but had an exceptionally high bounce rate. So while overall traffic rates declined, we saw greater time on site and engagement on the refreshed pages that remained."

Stenzel's experience is common among companies that consolidate their content. You will undoubtedly see changes to your overall traffic rates, but the traffic you do see will be of higher quality, and more in line with your strategic goals. Reviewing your content strategy on an ongoing basis, and consolidating old, outdated, or misplaced content at least annually will keep your content strategy relevant, and keep your efforts worthwhile.