Managing old content online

Managing Old Content Online

If you have had a website or blog for a while, chances are you have a lot of content online. On one hand, that establishes your longstanding expertise. But there is a down side. Search engines and people look for fresh content when determining relevance and accuracy, so that legacy content can actually work against you unless you actively manage old content online.

Update Valid Content

Content you first published years ago may be accurate and helpful today. Set a schedule to regularly revisit this content to make sure nothing needs tweaking. Make sure there are no new nuances that need to be included. Perhaps cite a most recent example or case study to illustrate the main point.

If the content has gotten long, consider breaking it onto more than one page or post to freshen it. Have a checklist of your current brand guidelines, writing style and SEO needs and make sure the content is updated as needed.

The goal is to ensure readers and search engines know that the content is still timely and worthwhile.

Delete Unneeded Posts and Pages

Take a look at your analytics. Likely, you have many posts and pages that aren’t getting any traffic. (Personally, I am hoping that all my COVID-related content becomes obsolete very soon!)

This old content adds no value anymore, now or for the foreseeable future. In that case, you need to either tell Google to forget about these old posts or pages or give the URL another purpose.

When I talk about deleting old content, I don’t mean just pressing “delete” and then forgetting about it. If you do that, the content might show up in Google for weeks after deletion. The URL might actually have some link value as well, which would be a shame to waste.

So, what should you do? Here are two options:

  • 301 redirect the old post to a related one. When a URL still holds value because, say, you have a number of quality links pointing to that page, you want to leverage that value by redirecting the URL to a related one. With a 301 redirect you’ll tell search engines and visitors there’s a better or newer version of this content on your site. The 301 redirect automatically sends people and Google to this page.
  • Tell search engines the content is intentionally gone. If there isn’t a relevant page on your site you can redirect to, tell Google to forget about your old post entirely by setting 410 deleted status. This status code will tell Google and visitors the content didn’t just disappear; you’ve deleted it with a reason.

Create a Maintenance Plan

Cleaning up old content should be part of your content maintenance routine. Go through old posts regularly. Refresh the content that still has value. Unpublish the rest.