June 18, 2021

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Delete or renew? What to do with old content

It’s not unusual for content found on your website to become outdated or irrelevant, particularly should you be in a constantly evolving business niche or frequently finding yourself publishing guides and instructions. But that doesn’t mean you should simply ignore such works, but rather adopt a policy for either refreshing or removing. We take a look at the benefits of these options and scenarios in which they arise. 

Update valid content

For some people, the need to regularly update content is essential. For example, in the SEO industry itself, changes are occurring on a daily basis, meaning staying abreast of best practices is vital to your website’s success. It may be, for example, that you created a webpage back in 2010 that detailed the best ways to format your text for search engines. Over the years, the importance of selected techniques has become more or less important or, in certain cases, entirely obsolete.

Much of the page will remain evergreen, cornerstone content and thus unchanged. But, when changes do come, it often pays to simply update as opposed to start over, particularly if this page has been a popular one for visitors over the years. Of course, there’s no harm in even repurposing some of this content into a fresh page, thereby appeasing the need for fresh content to be produced and helping make use of valuable content from the past. 

Delete irrelevant content

If, for example,  you’re in an industry that sells a specific product which is no longer available nor will be reintroduced, what value does web content pertaining to it have? Similarly, you may have been promoting an upcoming event that has long since happened. No longer relevant, right? Well, from a pure user perspective, you would be correct on both counts. However, when running a website, the value of such pages may not be in the content itself, but rather in the page upon which it resides. We’re talking, of course, about the SEO value of the URL.

In such scenarios, you may well feel fully entitled to delete the content. But by delete, we do not mean delete wholesale. Instead, you should look to remove and redirect. 

301 redirects to new posts

It’s already been noted that creating new posts from old material is one approach to take with aging content. And, while out of date or irrelevant content has no real user value and can be deleted, there’s protocols which need to be followed. In both instances, this older content could well have valuable inbound links that you do not wish to lose, and the URL itself may offer SEO value too. As such, you should always – and we mean always – utilise the value of 301 redirects from the old pages to the new. Such redirects will leverage the value of the original pages and ensure that any backlinks that exist simply drive traffic to the updated content. Failure to do so, meanwhile, could seriously impact the performance of your website in the search engines.

It’s worth remembering that while 301 redirects should direct users to an available point on a website, simply directing to the homepage is not necessarily best practice. Instead, ensure it points to a relevant location in relation to the original, as doing so will improve user experience and thus be of greater benefit.