Many businesses have built their websites with the idea that content is king, and now their sites look like old storage filled with a collection of outdated blog articles. Some might still bring hundreds of users to the website, while others won’t do anything. At worst, some of the old content might hurt the rankings of all pages on the website.
After a quick Google research filled with advice on removing old content for improving SEO, many website owners decide to delete old blog articles that aren’t performing well.
Getting rid of the old content is easy, but removing old content is usually not the best decision for your SEO, so hold on before you hit the delete button. Whether you should delete old blog articles depends on numerous factors we will discuss below, and chances are, you won’t need to kill your darlings.
Old blogs aren’t always outdated. Sometimes, old is gold, even in content marketing. For example, let’s say you wrote a blog on pitching a business idea to an investor 15 years ago. Not much has changed since then, it’s still relevant, and the article still ranks at the top in relevant queries; then, the blog isn’t outdated regardless of when you wrote it. If the ranking for the article dropped, it means it’s not performing well, but it still doesn’t mean it’s outdated. Should you delete this post? No. Should you reoptimize it for boosting SEO? Yes!
Outdated content means it’s no longer relevant, accurate, or necessary. For instance, if you wrote a blog on buying the best Christmas gifts in 2012, most of the products you listed are probably no longer available, most links you used are broken, and nobody will search for Christmas gifts in 2012 when 2022 is right around the corner. Still, it doesn’t mean you should delete the page altogether when you can breathe a new life into it by recycling the post for the current year.
One of the simplest ways to determine whether the content is doing harm or good for your website and SEO is to audit the page.
There are three possible results you’ll get from the audit:
- Your old blog post still benefits your website SEO
- It does nothing for your website
- It hurts rankings of all pages on your site
An annual content audit is crucial for your website authority and rankings. Unfortunately, we often write a piece and never go back to see if it’s still relevant. In the best-case scenario, we should return periodically to ensure everything is up to date and relevant, just as it was the day when we published it.
Conducting a content audit will help you identify blog articles that no longer work for your SEO and determine what you need to change to improve their performance. It’s more time-consuming and may sound more challenging than hitting the delete button, but the results you get from recycling old content are worth the effort.
Like any other page on your website, you should optimize blog posts for search engines to boost their rankings. Because Google algorithms keep changing, some of your old blog articles may not be optimized for current algorithms or even for relevant keywords. Even if your blogs provide relevant information, they might be outdated for current SEO practices and ranking factors.
For instance, if you published an article in 2003, chances are, it’s not optimized for mobile searches. In 2022, mobile-friendliness is one of the crucial aspects of SEO, so if it’s not optimized for mobile users, now it’s time to do so.
The goal of your content is to educate your website visitors and share valuable information with them, and if it’s irrelevant and outdated, it’s no longer valuable to your visitors. That’s when you’ll need to update by adding new chunks of content or rewrite your old content entirely so it is relevant and helpful to your audience.
Your content might be SEO-friendly and even up to date, but not of the highest quality, which usually means it’s hard-to-read, improperly formatted, nor entertaining or educating, or even grammatically incorrect. Several clear indicators of low-quality content are the following metrics: bounce rate, time on page, conversions, engagement, backlinks, and ranking. All these metrics can indicate the quality of your blog post and whether your audience is finding it helpful.
Changes to make here include:
- Making your blogs easy-to-read
- Restructuring the content
- Correcting grammar mistakes
- Adding visual elements to your blogs such as images, graphs, videos
- Making them more entertaining and educational
- Answering the most crucial questions related to the topic
Should I Delete Old Blogs?
Say you have an article from 2017 – it has thin, poorly written content, but its topic has a lot of potential. If you delete the article, and later on, you write another one on the same topic, you’ll start from scratch and will lose any page authority the previous URL had accumulated over time.
In most cases, we recommend updating information by rewriting and adding more, but keeping the same URLs and adding a note at the top indicating when the article was updated.
Deleting content in bulk, like decluttering your wardrobe, can do more harm than good to your SEO and may result in a major drop in your search engine rankings and traffic, so instead, recycle your content.
Even though updating and recycling content might be a good strategy, sometimes it may not be an option, and you may need to delete old pages. Some examples include:
- the content is legally incorrect nowadays or is about a topic that no longer exists or is relevant/outdated
- the content can get you in trouble (health claims that are not proven), and the URL slug makes it obvious (for example /this-superfood-can-cure-cancer/)
- the content is competing with other pages on the website, so instead, you’d want to consolidate it.
If the law changed or the blog was outdated, and you had to delete the content due to inaccurate information, redirect the old URL to a new relevant article on the same topic.
Deleting old content isn’t always the best strategy when, in contrast, you can recycle and make the most of your existing content. The best way to do so is to:
- Audit your old content and find weak spots to improve
- Analyze metrics and find out whether your content is valuable to readers
- Improve content quality
- Reoptimize pages to boost rankings