Old Content: How to Deal with It
Old content never dies. Instead it just stays online, gathering metaphorical dust. You probably haven’t given much thought to your outdated and old content: once it’s posted, you don’t really need to. But with a new Panda update on the horizon, content is being put in the spotlight once again, so it is time to take a long, hard look at your web content to see whether your site is ready to face the Panda.
The one thing Panda taught us was that good quality content is absolutely essential for a website’s success. When Panda first came to town, millions of websites stuffed with spammy content crashed and burned. Webmasters worked out that they could no longer get away with creating irrelevant, low quality content rammed full of keywords for the purposes of duping the search engines into bumping it up to page one. Instead they worked really hard, replacing their sub-standard content with good quality work.
So with another Panda update on the cards, now is a good time to give your website a thorough audit, just to make sure you haven’t missed any dodgy content that might jeopardise your organic search engine ranking. But what should you do with old, out of date content?
The Definition of “Old”
In the world of content, “old” can mean many things, but generally speaking it is any content that is no longer relevant or useful to the reader, perhaps because it references things that no longer exist, technology has moved on, or more up to date information has come to the fore. Basically if old content doesn’t help your website, it needs to be dealt with.
Refreshing Dead Content
Old content might still rank well, so it makes sense to leave the URL intact. Instead, give the content a refresh by researching new keywords to capture new web traffic – keywords chop and change all the time, so the chances are good that the original keywords you targeted are now out of date.
Have a read through and see if you can update the call to action. Include new facts if the information has been overtaken by new research, or talk about new products you sell. The key here is to figure out how you can make old content more relevant to today’s readers.
Know When to Delete Dead Content
Sometimes the only sensible course of action is to delete old content. For example, if your website features employee profiles and one of them has left, you should delete the page. The same applies to pieces of content that are almost identical. A 301 redirect will work in many instances. Drive traffic to a more appropriate page or to a page with better rankings. Alternatively, if the old content is only “old” in the short-term, perhaps because a product is temporarily unavailable, post a custom message for visitors landing on the page.
New content is always desirable and should take precedence, but don’t be afraid to rework old content if it still has some life left in it.