Writing a blog post can be a challenge. It is hard work, but afterward, you’re probably proud of what you have created. No way you are ever going to throw those beautiful articles away, right? But what should you do with blog posts that are really, really old? Should you keep all of those?
In this blog post, I’ll explain why you cannot keep all of your old content. Also, I’ll explain what types of content you should keep on your site and which kinds of articles should be deleted.
- Why you cannot keep all your content
- Update, delete or merge?
- Repost your updated content
- Conclusion: continue to clean up
Why you cannot keep all your content
Even if your content is really awesome, you need to do some cleaning. Otherwise, you’ll be hurting your own chances of ranking in Google. You see, there are only a limited number of places in Google’s search results pages. Google will only show 1 or 2 results from the same domain in the search results for any specific query. If you’re a high authority domain, you might get away with three results.
If you have written 3 articles focussing on the same – or very similar – keywords, you are competing with yourself for those limited spaces in the search results. You’ll be confusing Google. That’s why you cannot blog endlessly about the same content and leave it be. You need to do some content management.
Read more: What is keyword cannibalization? »
Update, delete or merge?
There are three things you can do with old content. You can keep it, you can delete it or you can merge it. Not sure what to do? It all depends upon your content.
1. Update valuable content
Is an article still very valuable? Does it get a lot of traffic from Google? Is the post still in line with your site and your company? Old content that is still very valuable should, of course, be kept on your website. Do make sure that this content is updated on a regular basis. Your most important articles should never contain any outdated information. Setting reminders for yourself to update those evergreens every now and then is a great way to make sure your content is always up to date.
Sometimes it takes more than just changing a sentence here and there to update a post. If you need to revisit an existing post, Yoast Duplicate Post might come in handy; It allows you to clone your post and work on the update in the cloned post, so you won’t have to publish your changes right away. You can just copy and paste your new content in the existing post when you’re done! Read more on how and why to duplicate a post in WordPress.
Keep reading: Keep your content fresh and up to date »
Solve it with site structure
Keeping content on your website does come with a price, especially if you write a lot about similar topics. Make sure you add some structure and hierarchy to your website. If one of your pages or posts is much more important than the other one, you should treat it as such. Place that important page higher in your hierarchy. Link from less important pages to your most important page. that way you’ll be telling Google which article you want to rank highest with and you can keep both articles.
2. Delete (and redirect) outdated content
Is an article outdated? Does it contain invalid information? Does it contain information that’s no longer helpful? Every now and then you write about an upcoming event or you announce something new. After some time, these articles are pretty much useless. These types of articles should be deleted. Do make sure to redirect the article to something similar (or to the homepage if you cannot find an alternative).
Not sure how to create a redirect? And don’t want to add this task to your developer’s endless to-do list? Get Yoast SEO Premium! Redirecting has never been easier. When you delete a post or change a URL, it’ll even ask you where to redirect it to!
3. Merge content
Have you written multiple articles about the same topic? Are they pretty much the same? Are they ranking for the same topics? These types of articles should be merged. Make one really awesome article out of the two (or three) you have written. Then delete (but do not forget to redirect) the old articles. I would write the new merged article on the URL that attracted the most traffic from Google.
In this process, Yoast Duplicate Post is a lifesaver. Merging two existing posts usually requires some effort and working in a clone allows you to work on it when you have time for it. Clone the post you’d like to keep most of the content of and then add the essential pieces of the one you’ll do away with. Take your time to make one coherent story out of it. When you’re done: copy the clone’s content in the post you’d like to keep, update it, and trash and redirect the other post.
Keep on reading: Find and fix keyword cannibalization in 4 steps »
Repost your updated content
Updating and merging your old blog posts is never a waste of time. But if you really want to reap the benefit of your refurbished content you can republish it on your blog, repost it on your social channels and mention it in your newsletter. This way you’ll make sure your content won’t be forgotten and you probably even attract new visitors to your site.
If you make minor changes to a recent article you can choose to just hit the Update button. In WordPress, the Last-Modified date will then change, but the Publish date will stay the same. When you’ve completely merged or rewritten content you can choose to also change the Publish date. By doing so, your post will pop up on top of your blog again. Share it on your other marketing channels too and it’ll surely get the attention it deserves!
If you do the latter, don’t forget to delete the old comments on the article! It might come across odd to publish an article with 5-years-old comments further down the page.
Conclusion: continue to clean up
Checking, updating, structuring and deleting old content should be part of a process. Just like you need to clean up your kitchen closet every now and then, you also need to clean up your old content. As your site grows, you need to clean out the content and maintain the structure. This really needs to be a core element in every SEO strategy.