Should you keep old content?

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

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 Your most important articles should never contain any outdated information.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. 

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.

Read on: How to set up a cornerstone content strategy? »

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.

Keep on reading: Content maintenance for SEO: Research, merge & redirect »

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.

Read more: Update or delete: Cleaning up old content on your site »


24 Responses to Should you keep old content?

  1. david
    david  • 1 month ago

    I like to keep updating my old content with new revelvant stuff and delete the outdated information.

    You do not need to delete your old content if you know how to do it right.
    Try adding new fresh content to your old articles to give bring back to life

    The only reason to delete an article is because it does not go with your website or it doesn’t provide any good value.

    It the beginning we tend to write articles that might be horrible because we have no clue what we are doing.
    Those for sure delete them.

    • Hanneke
      Hanneke  • 1 month ago

      Good to hear that you found a way of handling your old content!

  2. Nathan Jones
    Nathan Jones  • 1 month ago

    I normally review my old blog posts and create new versions of them with updated and relevant information and publish them as new posts. Aside from updating valuable content, deleting outdated content and merging content, do you think turning old content into a video or making a presentation for slideshare will also work? Thank you

    • Hanneke
      Hanneke  • 1 month ago

      Sure, as long as the information is still correct and people like to receive information that way! It’s another way of updating :)

  3. micibama
    micibama  • 1 month ago

    This is awesome. I actually deleted my zombie pages but never knew about post merging and redirecting. Thanks for this helpful information.

    • Hanneke
      Hanneke  • 1 month ago

      Great to hear that it helped you!

  4. Diseño web Sevilla
    Diseño web Sevilla  • 2 months ago

    Very interesting post. In my case i.m going to analyze blog because sure i.ll need to merge some urls. But what happen if two pages are ranking in first page with same keyword but you can not delette or merge because one of it is the home and the other is an actual post?

  5. Fahad Safdar
    Fahad Safdar  • 2 months ago

    I think the old content is hero of the site, but search engines rules are very important for content. Because some contents not eligible for changes and search engines don’t rank them.

  6. Dmitriy
    Dmitriy  • 2 months ago

    Thanks for your tips. I recently created a blog and read a lot of information from different sources, but I didn’t see such detailed info about old content.

    This will be very useful for my blogging.

    • Hanneke
      Hanneke  • 1 month ago

      hi Dmitriy, you’re very welcome! Good luck with your blog!

  7. Dami3n
    Dami3n  • 2 months ago

    I normally edit and update my old content to make it fresh as some opinions / data may have changed. My main question would be how about product pages for say a store/shop? should you update them or would this cause an issue? Technically the items have not changed so would it make a difference?

    • Hanneke
      Hanneke  • 1 month ago

      If all the information about a product is still relevant, then it’s fine! Just make sure everything is up to date, as you don’t want to give customers the wrong information :)

      Good luck!

  8. Kaveri
    Kaveri  • 2 months ago

    Great Information. I’ve got several of my older posts with good traffic in past but having invalid information now. Will try to write an updated article and redirect my older one to the new.

    • Hanneke
      Hanneke  • 1 month ago

      Good luck, Kaveri!

  9. Nikola
    Nikola  • 2 months ago

    Yeah, but how often do you run the cleanup?

    • Hanneke
      Hanneke  • 1 month ago

      Hi Nikola,
      it really depends on how big your site is! Just stay on top of it.

      Good luck!

  10. Matt
    Matt  • 2 months ago

    “Do make sure to redirect the article to something similar (or to the homepage if you cannot find an alternative).”

    You should never redirect an old page or post to your home page! Not only will this result in a poor user experience (they’ll wonder why they can’t get to the page/post), but it’s not good for SEO.

    Source: https://www.seroundtable.com/301-404-pages-to-your-home-page-26923.html

    • Hanneke
      Hanneke  • 1 month ago

      Hi Matt,
      only if there’s really no other possible post or page to redirect to, you could redirect to the homepage. In most cases that makes more sense than landing on a 404!

  11. Fribba
    Fribba  • 2 months ago

    I think that you should only delete from your older posts the information which is not valuable anymore, or which is outdated. I don’t think that deleting your articles entirely will do any better than keeping them ( and update if necessary ).
    But this is just my humble opinion.
    Anyway, great plugin.
    Keep up the good work :)

    • Hanneke
      Hanneke  • 1 month ago

      Hi Fribba, good thing is that we agree on that: See nr. 2!
      Thanks for your kind words!

  12. Quincy Seale
    Quincy Seale  • 2 months ago

    Is there any disadvantage in republishing old content? I updated a post by adding images and tripling the word count, but it’s one of the oldest posts on my site (from 2012). Would re-publishing now (2019) harm my site’s authority in any way?

    What if I eventually republished ALL my old posts? Would that diminish authority, or would Google always “know” how old they really were?

    • Kim Goldston
      Kim Goldston  • 1 month ago

      Would love to know the answer to the above question. I wonder if you could update and then repost?