December 31

How to Deal with Old Content on Your Website



Some things, such as wine, get better with time. Others do not. One such example is the content on your website. With the end of the year nearly upon us, we believe it is a great time to audit your site and see how well it performs. You will definitely find pages that have thin or obsolete content, low traffic and other issues.

The question is: what do you do with old content on your site? Do you delete it? Do you find ways to update it? Or do you keep it, but deindex the respective pages? There are many choices, but each of them will have an impact on the overall page rank of your website. Thus, you must make the best decision, the one that brings most benefits.

How to Audit Website Pages

When we speak about website audit in this specific case, we do not mean simply looking at the metrics you get in Google Search Console. They are relevant, of course. But they only tell half of the story.

For the other half, you have to actually look at your web pages one by one. Here is what you should consider:

  • Is this information still relevant?
  • Do we still offer this product/service or plan to bring it back?
  • Is this piece of content representative for our brand image?
  • Is the page optimised for search?
  • Is the content still interesting for your intended audience?

Deciding on What to Do with Old Content on Your Website

After the analysis, it is time to start acting. Here are the options you have for dealing with old content and web pages:

1. Update and Refresh the Content

The best possible solution is to make some changes to old content and make it relevant and interesting again. These are usually pages that contain data which has changed in the meantime, such as:

  • Statistics
  • Developing stories
  • Industry reports.

For example, if you published a listicle of advice on a topic, you can revisit it and remove the items which are no longer relevant and add new ones instead.

The same thing happens with evergreen topics that keep evolving – such as SEO trends, web design trends, etc.

2. Redirect Old Pages to Related Ones

Here is an interesting situation; the information on a page is really old and impossible to refresh. However, it has some valuable backlinks and you do not want to lose them. So, what do you do with this type of old content?

The most effective solution is to look for a related topic. For example, you wrote a tutorial for a product you have replaced in the meantime with an improved version. Thus, you want people to read the new tutorial and still maintain the page equity the old page earned. Thus, you set a “301 redirect” that will take readers to the new page. This is truly the best of both worlds option: keeping what is valuable from the old page while giving visitors fresh and relevant information.

3. Delete the Irrelevant and Old Content

Finally, there is a category of content that really has to go. The pages that you really should not keep any longer are:

  • Discontinued products
  • Landing pages for expired promotions
  • Thin content (under 300 words)
  • Poorly written content
  • Pages with low traffic, links and page views.

Now, before you simply click on the Delete button, consider that somewhere out there people can still find a link to this page –old social media posts and shares, for instance. So, when they click on the link, they get the famous error 404 – Page Not Found. This does not look good for your brand. Also, Google does not like broken links.

The solution to this issue is to tell Google that you intentionally deleted the page. You do by using the code 410 – Deleted.

Final Considerations on Old Content on Your Website

Google is constantly changing its ranking algorithm. However, some factors will remain relevant. These relate to content, which has to be:

  • Fresh
  • Relevant
  • Accurate
  • Authoritative
  • Well written
  • Useful and interesting for the intended audience.

These are the principles you must keep in mind when you are analysing all pages and deciding what to do with old content on your website.

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