Whether your website is a blog, business website or e-commerce website there will come a time when you need to do a content audit to see if all your content is still good quality and relevant to your audience. And it is likely you will need to remove outdated content to keep your website fresh.
We’ve all done it. The first content we wrote for our websites was short or low quality as we built our experience. Or our business has changed direction over time and our first posts are written for an audience we no longer serve. This content can easily become outdated without us even noticing.
If like Callia Web, you’ve been operating for several years the advice in your blog post could be superseded by technological advances. Or if you host events or sell products, a blog post could refer to old products and events and at old prices too!
It is worth doing the occasional spring clean of your blog because this outdated or irrelevant content can harm your search engine ranking and your visitors’ experience of your website.
- Google penalises websites with lots of low-quality content.
- Visitors landing on a page with low-quality content will quickly hit that back button and go back to the search results and try another page. A high “bounce rate” hurts your search engine ranking.
- Visitors could get a bad impression of your business and could even feel misled.
Some examples of content that should be updated or removed:
- An article about a product with an outdated price.
- Blog posts published years ago which are no longer relevant in the current environment.
- Posts containing spun text and old PBN (Private Blog Networks) links.
- Pages that are no longer relevant to your new target audience.
- Products or courses you no longer offer.
- Articles with links to pages on your or other websites that no longer exist – ie broken links.
Don’t just remove outdated content
When you come across such a page, first consider whether it can be updated rather than deleted. If you update it, will it now provide good value to your website visitors? If yes then spend a little time on it and you can even change the publication date if it has new information.
Often than not, the page needs to go but don’t just delete it! That could frustrate your website visitors when they land on your “404 page not found” error page, and hurt your SEO as any ranking that page had will be lost.Here is what we recommend instead:
- If it has to go, change the page status from Published to Draft. This effectively removes it from the front of your website. Keep the page in draft format for a while just in case you want to check back on that content in future or later update it and republish it. If you don’t just delete it later.
- Set up a redirect so that a visitor clicking a link to this page will get redirected to the nearest equivalent content. The link can be elsewhere on your website, on someone else’s website or on the search engine’s result pages.
- With a 301 redirect, in time Google, and other search engines, will remove the page from its index. You can speed up this removal by using Google webmaster tools. But be aware that links to this page may still exist on your website and others so keep that redirect alive.
There is just one little gotcha to be aware of if you do later republish that page – you need to remove the redirect!
What do we mean by nearest equivalent content?
Don’t just link to your home page. Give it some thought and find the best place for your website visitor to be redirected to.
- If you are removing the page because the same or similar content is on another page then redirect to that page.
- If you are removing the page because the content is no longer relevant or outdated then redirect to something else on your website that would help the website visitor with their query.
- If there is no equivalent page then is there something that is on a similar topic? For example, if you are removing an apple pie recipe you could redirect to the apple recipes page. Or if you don’t have any other apple recipes, link to your recipes page.
- As a last resort, redirect to your home page. I do mean last resort here! Have you ever experienced the frustration of finally finding a link that purports to answer your question, only to land on the website’s home page or an entirely irrelevant page? Don’t do that to your website visitors.
What do we mean by a 301 redirect?
A 301 redirect is the way to inform both search engines and visitors that the content has been permanently moved. It is an indicator to the search engines to remove the link from their database.
What if you are not permanently deleting the content and may republish it? For example, if it is for a course you will rerun next month, or a special offer you advertise each month? Then use a 302 redirect which is a temporary redirect. The redirection will happen but Google won’t remove the link from its index. Note that the SEO value of the page will not be transferred with a 302 redirect.
How to create a 301 redirect
Our favourite redirection plugin is called “Redirection” and is developed by John Godley. You can find it in the free WordPress Plugin Repository.
Once installed, from the website dashboard go to Tools then Redirection sub-menu. Then click the add new button.
In the Source URL box add the link to the old content. Remove the domain part of your link so you just have the relative path, for example, https://www.calliaweb.co.uk/outdated-content/ is the full link and /outdated-content/ is the relative path. Next enter the relative path to the new content into the Target URL box. Click the Add Redirect button.
There are more options available than that but that’s all you need for a simple redirect of one page to another.
You can also use the Redirection plugin to redirect to a completely different website, just use the full link in the Target URL box.
Alternatively, the Yoast Premium plugin also has this redirection feature.
That’s it. I’m now off to look through our content, seeing as this website is now eight years old and it is likely there is outdated content to remove here too!
As ever, if you need any assistance with the above please drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.