How to Know If You Should Remove Outdated Content
A common misconception with websites is that “bigger” means “better.” You might have built your website over the years, filling it with content, and yet somehow, Google still isn’t giving you the recognition you deserve. There might be a good reason for that: outdated content.
The Reputation Management Company assists brands with removing content that’s no longer serving your SEO. We can transform your brand’s site into a sleek, streamlined operation, perfectly optimized for search. Here’s why you need to keep your website slim, trim, and relevant – and how to achieve it.
What is Outdated Content?
Outdated content is simply information that isn’t relevant anymore. This is partly why you’ll often see blog posts headlined with “X topic in [current year].” Putting a current date isn’t just optimizing for search queries; it’s actively telling Google, “This was recent! This is up-to-date!”
When search engines crawl pages, they search for information demonstrably relevant to what people are currently asking about a subject. They learn to identify information that seems to have outlived its usefulness, e.g., “you can find more of this band’s work on MySpace.” This signifies that the page hasn’t been updated in a very long time; it’s the equivalent of finding a shop window covered in faded graffiti. Nobody’s home, so that Google won’t send its clients there.
It’s not always so cut-and-dried. Information that you might consider “evergreen” can become outdated as well. For example, an article on how to grit a driveway might be just as accurate today as it ever was – but the search terms included might have changed. Its keywords might no longer resonate with the algorithm. This is why The Reputation Management Company advises that you conduct regular audits to see what material needs updating, what needs deleting, and what can stay.
Why Does It Matter If Content is Outdated?
Google creates an aggregate for your website based on everything it finds. If you have swathes of old and irrelevant material, it won’t matter if you’ve spent your marketing budget on a sleek new design for your website and fresh new blog posts – the old stuff is dragging it down.
Remember that when it comes to ranking on Google, you always have ten relevant competitors. That’s how many results are displayed on Google’s front page, which is usually all anyone will look at.
You might rest easy thinking that most competitors won’t be managing their backlog of content and keeping it refreshed. That doesn’t matter. If 1,000 businesses don’t update their content and ten manage their websites properly, those ten will be beating you to the top spots, and nobody will find your business.
The Reputation Management Company specializes in tracking your competition and helping you update areas that will put you ahead of the crowd. You’ll know what people are searching for, when they’re searching for it, and how to help them find you instead of your competitors.
How Do I Know if Content on My Website is Outdated?
There’s no guaranteed expiration date. Knowing when removal is necessary should never be treated automatically; you need to use your judgment. However, here are a few indicators that content is ripe for removal:
- It’s no longer accurate. Inaccurate information is a red flag to Google. Time to update.
- It’s several years old and gets low traffic. This is a sure sign that Google’s not recommending this page to people.
- It’s full of dead links. Other people use content removal, too! Linking to other sites helps build authority, but if all the sites you linked to have updated their material, you’re just linking to dead space, and Google will notice. It’s death by association.
- It contains details or information you don’t want to be associated with. For example, you might have old content that describes your close relationship with a business that went under or became mired in scandal. This also applies to individuals – when a party you’ve associated with experiences serious reputation damage, you should audit your site to ensure you’re not going to get tarred with the same brush.
The Reputation Management Company can help you take a fine-tooth comb to your website, identifying content that should be flagged for removal. We can analyze which pages aren’t performing, generating a high bounce rate from your customers (thus telling Google they’re not useful), and which might be harmful to your brand.
How to Audit Your Website for Outdated Content
The idea of auditing your site can feel overwhelming. It’s a big task, and sometimes it feels hard to know what you’re looking for. Beyond this, it’s difficult to know what to do with outdated content once you’ve earmarked it for removal. How do you clean up a website, so it doesn’t hurt your Google score? We’ll cover this below.
The best way to get started is to work with an expert auditor like The Reputation Management Company. We have years of experience helping clients identify outdated content, and we know the best removal methods to ensure that only good things come from your clean-up. We’ll ensure that you don’t throw the good out with the bad.
We’ll start with a thorough section-by-section review – sometimes, an entire category needs to go. Sometimes it’s just isolated pages. We’ll systematically work through your website, testing pages for each potential reason for removal. Here’s how The Reputation Management Company treats old and unwanted content.
How Do You Remove Outdated Content?
Often the best strategy for removal isn’t deletion. We’ll explain why simply deleting pages can harm your Google ranking below, but let’s get started with the best strategies for removal and why they’re so effective.
1. Delete It (Safely)
A page needs to go when it contains content that you don’t want anyone to find under any circumstances. This includes:
- Links to businesses or individuals that you have no wish to be associated with
- Statements that might harm your brand if a client reads them
- Material that arguably shouldn’t have been published in the first place (e.g., pieces containing amateurish analyses or bogus claims)
The Reputation Management Company recommends attaching a “410 Deleted” status to any page you wish to remove from your site fully. This is effectively a signpost for search engines saying they don’t need to look. If you don’t attach a 410 Deleted status code, the search engine will look for the content because it expects it to be there. When it finds nothing, it won’t be happy, affecting your search ranking.
Redirecting is a valuable tool when you replace old content with fresh material. For example, a blog page you wrote two years ago on “the best way to avoid back pain when lifting weights” might need updating with fresh keywords, information, and strategies. You can simply redirect the URL to a new page by creating a 301 Redirect status.
This can be a great SEO strategy because it will maintain backlinks to the old content and preserve search traffic. Building backlinks is a labor of love, and you don’t want to lose that search credit! Redirecting is often the best way to go in these cases.
A disadvantage of redirecting is that too many redirects can impede your server’s speed. Slow loading times are another red flag to search engines. The Reputation Management Company redirects only the most useful pages.
Adding a Noindex tag will de-index the page so search engines won’t list it among search results. This preserves backlinks and won’t slow down your site by redirecting traffic. This can be a little more time-consuming, as you’ll need to ensure that the de-indexed page is removed from internal links – people will still be able to find it, just not via Google.
Why You Shouldn’t Just Delete Outdated Content
Deleting outdated content will remove backlinks. These are some of the most effective tools for building a strong search rank, and you can inadvertently destroy valuable connections by deleting a post. Only delete if you’re 100% sure the page needs to go.
Furthermore, if you delete without adding a 410 Deleted code, you’ll effectively be penalized for wasting the search engine’s time. Google doesn’t like being told to check something out and then finding blank space – signposting is important.
How The Reputation Management Company Helps With Outdated Content Removal
The Reputation Management Company will audit your website thoroughly and use the best methods for outdated content removal. We’ll flag up material that could harm your brand or is simply a deadweight and help you understand what to do with it. We’ll preserve your valuable backlinks and show you where to create fresh new content to replace the old. This means you’ll be building on your success and only trimming useless material.
If you need help with outdated content removal, The Reputation Management Company should be your first call. Find out where you can optimize your website by arranging an audit. Streamline your brand’s messaging. Make your website work for you.