Most people associate writing a blog with content generation—coming up with ideas, composing posts, sourcing references, and the like. However, the inverse is just as important. It is equally vital to your blog's growth to know how to handle outdated content.
It's easy to get rid of outdated information—you could either delete the post or redirect readers to a new version. However, if the outdated blog still brings in traffic, what should you do? Any alterations could affect your leads, sales, and bottom line.
Many marketers believe that freshness matters the most for Google and that it will reward updated websites. However, before you delete or redirect your content, it's good to gauge your situation and consider how you can protect your website traffic. Here are things to keep in mind.
Monitor Your Website Metrics
You won't know how your content is faring unless you see your website's analytics. Determine which posts you need to retire by monitoring bounce rates, time spent on your page, and website conversions. Your website content should contribute to your goals—are conversions increasing or decreasing from posts?
You could also review your posts if your newsletter sign-ups are strong, but you aren't getting completed forms from products and services. Figure out your page's performance by referring to your conversion goals, the ones you set up in Google Analytics.
You could also analyze your rankings. If you delete a post, will you lose search engine visibility for some terms? You need to be comfortable with falling a few places in your rankings if it means revamping your website content.
Follow Keyword Trends
Besides your website's metrics, you should follow larger keyword trends. On Google Search Console, you can see information on individual URLs and search queries, while Google Trends and Keyword Planner will show you data on specific phrases over time. You could also track click data for your content and examine drop-off points. Looking at the URLs, keywords, and clicks in Google Search Console will help you quantify your decisions for SEO.
Look at The Website Traffic
Besides clicks and rankings, look at the traffic as well. Do you still get the same number of visitors now as you did in the past? What factors might have affected website performance as a whole? For example, algorithm updates or global events like the pandemic would have an impact on website traffic.
Examine your critical locales—are you still getting visitors from your target locations? If you're receiving fewer visitors from specific areas, you could look at deeper indicators. For example, if your newer blog posts don't get as much traffic as your older ones, the rule of thumb that "fresh = better traffic" doesn't follow. You have to see the deeper context to learn why this is happening. Otherwise, it will be challenging to assess the usefulness of a redirect on your long-term goals.
Traffic isn't everything, and you need context if you're not meeting your numbers. Considering contextual factors can help you better evaluate why you are not hitting the traffic you need.
What to Do After Deciding Whether to Keep or Redirect
When you opt to redirect people to newer versions of a post or keep and update your old content, you have several options for making it friendlier to search engines and readers.
Link Your Old Content to Fresh Posts
When you have aging content that outranks new posts, direct visitors to the latest piece. Doing this helps both pages rank and directs readers to fresher content, which they would appreciate.
Ask For New Backlinks
Reach out to referring websites and ask for backlinks that direct people to the new content. If a page has amassed several links over time, it will perform better even if it doesn't have the most updated content. When you inform linking domains of your new post and they switch their links over, the old post will naturally drop in rankings. However, the fresh content should make up for the drop—added to the fact that it has fresher content, it'll undoubtedly cause better rankings.
Rewrite Your Old Content
Besides changing the referring links, you could also give the post a fresh coat of paint. Update the references you've linked, embed a new video, rewrite sections to include more relevant examples, and do other things to indicate how information has changed from when you write the article the first time.
Also, don't include the year and month in the URL structure. Although this practice used to be the norm, it is no longer the case today. Including the year and month in the URL makes it challenging to update your posts, especially if you're doing batch updates. If you've already had a date structure in your posts, dropping it will cause significant shifts in your position on SERPs. When Google finishes accounting for your 301 redirects, though, your website should get better rankings.
An old post or website page will provide link juice for a significant amount of time. However, being evergreen can only go so far, and you will have to consider retiring a page at some point. If your page still performs well and helps your rankings, you should still keep it a while longer. Redirecting people to fresher content might make you lose out on leads and sales you could get. In turn, this would cause gaps in your website traffic and revenue.
Whether or not to keep old content or redirect to new posts depends on you, the website owner. You need to consider all aspects, from SEO to your business practices and brand reputation. Your old content has been serving you for a long time, so you need to pause and decide whether you really need to say goodbye or if you can keep them around a while longer.
At Ranked, we help you through all aspects of your content strategy. Our SEO platform and service will take you through everything, from keyword research to reporting and analytics. We provide optimized weekly content and high-quality backlinks—book a call with our team or start your free trial today!