In the age when content is king, thinking about deleting content might seem like crazy. Why get rid of articles and blog posts that may be driving traffic to your site? Because they might be causing more harm than good. We won’t argue that perhaps you have some old content that is actually valuable, that drives traffic and ranks well in search results. But chances are that most of your old content is obsolete by now – and it may be something that’s holding you back.
Not so long ago, we all grew accustomed to post up to 5 or 6 300-word articles per day. It was the way content worked then – keyword stuffing, link building, more quantity before more quality. But times have changed a lot since then. The updates applied to Google’s algorithm over the past years have tried to shift the focus from quantity to quality, penalizing sites that won’t adhere to the new rules.
The results? We are all writing longer and longer posts capable of providing actual value to the reader. A 300-word article isn’t enough anymore and most of us have played along. But many of us have forgotten about something – our old crappy content is still online. And Google doesn’t forget that easily. So, perhaps it’s time for you to analyze your old content to check if it isn’t hurting your site’s SEO without giving anything in return. Here’s how to do it.
Spotting bad quality content
If you have a site that has been online for quite a while now, all of the above surely rings true for you. In fact, a quick tour through your site archives may show you that you have tons of those shorter posts we used to write back then. It’s time for some cleanup!
The first thing you’ll have to do is identify which posts aren’t doing anything for you and separate them from those that have some value. There are several ways to do this. You can go manually over your blog archive, sure, but that will take you an awful lot of time to sort out. The best thing is to automate the whole process. As this Entrepreneur article points out, you can use a tool called Panguin to compare your traffic records and look for pages with abrupt drops after each Google update hit.
You can also use the method described in this Koozai article to help you identify the content that needs to go. It’s important to remind you that both this method and Panguin will go as far back as your site has used Google Analytics, so if you haven’t installed it from the beginning, there will be some content left out that you will have to check manually.
What to do
Let’s say you’ve found a batch of very short posts filled with keywords and links that wouldn’t meet today’s standards by far. What should you do with them? Delete them permanently? Hold on. Before doing anything, you should take a look at those posts, since there might be hope left for some of them. Here’s what you should be looking for to decide:
- Good ideas, evergreen topics. A short post about something that’s still valuable today can be improved and adjusted to measure up to modern standards. You can add more information, use more data, write more opinions, cite more sources and anything you can think of to complement what’s already there. Thus, you can take a 300-word blog post and turn it into a 1,500-word guide that won’t only be useful but that will also serve as great material for social networking.
- Several posts about the same subject. This was another regular practice back in the day – writing many short posts about the same subject to squeeze the most out of them. But today, a series of posts like that won’t do you any good. If the idea or subject behind them still holds, then merge them all together into one great post filled with valuable information. Be sure to redirect the old posts to that new one to get the traffic you might get from those shorter articles.
- Old posts about a subject you’ve covered in detail afterwards. This is another likely scenario you’re going to encounter – short posts about certain topics you’ve revisited later on in a much more exhaustive manner. Of course, you should always stick with the most complete option to promote and get traffic interested in the subject. Remove the old posts and redirect the URLs to the new article. This way, you’ll be able to keep the value of the old incoming links and you’ll be providing better information to people looking for it.
- Obsolete subjects. Finally, you’ll find that many posts you’ve written in the past won’t offer any value even if you rewrite them. The solution here is pretty clear – delete them. These are the most clear examples of old content hurting your SEO efforts, so you might as well get rid of them for good.
As you can see, deleting old content isn’t just getting rid of articles judging by their dates. There are valuable posts that could become great pieces and crappy contents that are tainting your efforts to impress Google. So, don’t be afraid to get your hands in that old mud and see what’s underneath it. It will take you some time, sure, but the results will provide you with a nicer, healthier site that can improve your traffic considerably.