If your organization has been around for more than a year or two, your website probably holds a mountain of published content. Much of that content no longer helps your audience or your brand because it’s outdated or irrelevant.
But it doesn’t hurt anything, right?
Wrong. Old content may negatively impact your content’s search rankings and visitors’ experience.
For example, published content might link to articles, research reports, or other useful web pages. Over time, pages move offline for one reason or another. Those links might now go to defunct pages. That hurts your search performance because Google frowns on content with broken links. And audiences don’t love them, either.
You also might have content about topics that don’t fit your current content or business strategy. You wouldn’t want those pages to turn up in search.
Many brands hesitate to delete content, but the results are often surprisingly positive. For instance, HubSpot deleted more than 3000 outdated content pieces. In a matter of months, the company saw an improvement in its SEO results.
Start with a content audit
HubSpot’s experience doesn’t mean you can or should delete all your old content. You can improve much of your previously posted content to improve your SEO and audience experience.
Luckily, there are many ways you can improve previously posted content to improve your SEO. Even better, properly refurbished or updated content can serve you just as well as new posts. For example, according to Search Engine Journal, your site might see more page traffic and better SEO by deleting or refurbishing old content every so often. By practicing these strategies, you could save your brand money in the long run.
If you’re going to take some digital scissors to inaccurate or outdated content, you’ll need to find it first. That means you’ll need to audit your content. Ideally, you’ll review every piece of content on your site (blog posts, tutorials, or interview posts) to see what works and what no longer provides authority boosting or informative benefits to your target audience. If the amount of content makes that task too daunting, start with one content category (blog posts, for example), then expand from there.
Delete or redirect content that’s:
- No longer relevant because of changing industry trends or changes in your business
- Not of use to your current target audience
The content you decide to keep may benefit from the SEO boosting techniques below.
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Update and republish good but old content
What to do with the old blog posts and other accurate and worthwhile content pieces you want to keep? Google loves recently published content– so republish them.
But don’t repost them on your site as is – that’s a fast way to earn a rankings penalty in the computerized eyes of Google’s search engine algorithm.
Instead, refresh the article by:
- Adding new paragraphs
- Updating existing ones
- Adding new links and visuals
Then, republish your quality content with the current date. Databox, a popular dashboard tool for businesses, saw a 75% increase in website traffic after updating more than 20 old blog posts.
Look for the following opportunities as you work on updating older content.
Delete references to outdated stats in the content you’re keeping
Comb through reasonably good and accurate posts. Edit out any inaccurate data points or outdated references they may contain.
Say you have an excellent blog post for your small business on how to use a specific product. The article remains relevant but includes data points from five years ago. Do your brand a favor by removing those sentences.
Doing so prevents your content from suffering due to broken links. It also prevents your target audience from reading outdated information, then coming to incorrect conclusions about your brand’s authority or authenticity.
After getting rid of these outdated references or data points, you can boost the SEO value of previously published pages by replacing those old data points with current ones.
Go hunting online for modern, accurate, up-to-date references to replace each removed link. This guarantees that your links aren’t broken and that they link to authoritative sources.
Remember to review and refresh evergreen posts, too
Similarly, read through evergreen posts for references that aren’t accurate or compelling any longer. Consider the current industry, its trends, and what your target audience is searching for.
Then put on your editor’s hat and get to work. Trim the fat from old content, add new sentences with new insights, and more without touching the bones of previously published pieces. You’ll spend less time doing this than if you created new content while improving your brand’s SEO.
Weave in new SEO keywords and links
Lastly, you can update old content and improve its search engine optimization value by weaving in freshly researched SEO keywords and links.
If you’re still posting new content regularly as part of your content strategy, you can take the keyword research you’ve already done and use it to spruce up old content. Swap out or add new keywords to old posts, and consider placing a few fresh, high authority links within old blogs to make them more relevant and more authoritative than before.
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Cleaning up old content and making it relevant to your target audience once again takes work. But getting rid of content that no longer works and updating what does can do wonders for your content marketing strategy.
You may improve organic traffic to your site without investing in fresh content, and you’ll better serve your audience’s needs. Try these strategies for yourself and see the results.
Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute