4 Tips to Dealing with Old or Outdated Content


If you’ve been blogging or running a website for a long time, you’ll probably have some old and mouldy content. Think of products or services you no longer offer. Outdated blog posts. Pages that still live on, even though they’ve have been updated by fresher, newer ones.

It’s important to do something with this content. You should either delete it or modify it. Why? It’ll hurt your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts if you don’t do anything. Google comes along, sees a page that hasn’t received a lot of visitors because it’s outdated, and says to itself, “Hmmm, not too many people are looking at this page, which probably means it isn’t too important or it’s not what people are currently searching for.” Instant blammo! Your SEO takes a hit. Your site starts to go down in search rankings.

And it’s really important that your site doesn’t go down in rankings, obviously. The competition for traffic is getting fiercer and fiercer. Just in the blogging sphere alone, Internet Live Stats noted earlier this year (via Searchengineland.com) that more than 4.3 million blog posts get posted each day. That’s a lot of content to stay ahead of.

So what can be done about your old content? Here are a few suggestions to help get you started.

Do a Content Audit

This might be a time-consuming and onerous task, but if you have hundreds or thousands of pages on your site, it may be worth it to get to know what’s exactly on your site or blog. Go through all of your content that has been unpublished, updated, upgraded, promoted or repurposed. Decide what’s of use, and what’s not. You can start by asking yourself these questions:

  • Is the content still current and pertinent?
  • Is the content special in any way?
  • Does the content take into account keywords and offer good information?
  • Has the content been updated in the past and is it now attracting visitors?
  • Is the content getting enough page views?

Answer yes to any of those questions, and you should keep the content.

Rewrite Valuable Content

One of the things you can then do is look at your older content. If you have content that’s, say, five years old, you might find that there’s newer information to add to it. If you have a 500 or 600 word blog post that’s outdated, see if you can push it up to 1,000 words.

If you’re republishing anything to Medium.com, realize that it seems that the posts that get the most traction there are those that take between four to six minutes to read. A lot of those older postings may be too short for that criterion, so you may be able to add something new instead to hit the sweet spot.

Merge Content

Back in the good ol’ days of the World Wide Web, your SEO was helped if you split similar content up into multiple pages. Not anymore. You would be better served by taking all of that good content, and putting it up on a single page. For instance, take a few FAQs spread across pages and combine them into one section.

Be sure that if you do this, though, that you set up redirect links on the pages you take down. Google doesn’t take too kindly to 404 messages on deleted pages and too many 404 pages can hurt your SEO efforts.

Delete Content That’s of No Use

If you’ve decided you’ve got content that’s of no value, cannot be rewritten or updated, and has no incoming links or visitors, hit the delete button. Again, remember to set up a 301 redirect to a page with the same or similar content – even if you doubt that anyone would ever uncover the page. It’s worth repeating: Google will not like you if you have too many 404 messages.

Don’t link to your home page, either. Google hates that, too, and your visitors will throw up their hands in righteous frustration. Send them instead to a relevant related page, and make sure that it’s the most relevant possible. For instance, if you take down an old job posting that you may have, send visitors to the Careers page instead so they can get the most valuable, up to date information.

What other tips do you have for updating or repurposing old and outdated content? Leave comments below!

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