Owning a website that has been around for years and is still updated with content means that you most likely invest time and effort into making it useful to your audience and relevant to the search engines. Many websites and blogs competing with each other for Google’s ranking are constantly learning how to resonate better with the search engine’s ever changing algorithm, adapting their content along the way.
If you relate to the description above, then you’ve probably asked yourself by now: what should happen to the old SEO content on your page? After all, it was created following an outdated set of ranking rules. So, should you keep it or get rid of it?
Why You Should Revisit Your Old SEO Content
Once upon a time, you were an excited new member of the blogging community. You were eager to set up a brand new website that would get a lot of traffic, help you boost your sales, get your brand known, and create a community around your business. Depending on how old your site actually is, you could make a trip down memory lane in Google Analytics and see how far you’ve gotten and how much you’ve evolved since implementing the first SEO tactics.
Sure, any nostalgia trip will most likely make you smile with embarrassment, but remember one thing: any pieces of content that are still published on your website are being crawled by Google and used for ranking your website as a whole.
Would you say that your old content is still helping you or, on the contrary, holding you back? Let’s go through the main factors you need to weigh in during the cleanup process.
The Google Panda Update
As said before, being relevant for the search engines depends on how well you fit with its ranking algorithm. Google’s main product is just that: a search algorithm that helps its users find the most relevant content to them. And, Google is constantly improving and changing its rules to better help its users.
As a website owner, being aware of these changes in ranking rules and adapting your SEO strategy to them is crucial. That said, you might already be familiar with one of the biggest shifts in Google’s ranking mechanisms: the notorious Panda Update in 2011.
What Is the Panda Update?
The Panda Update was a major change in how Google’s algorithm would rank websites. It was aimed to put more valuable content up top and push out “content farms” and poor quality websites. It came as a solution to the SEO abuse that was happening online, when a Google search would often be hijacked by websites with no relevance, but which relied on heavy use of keywords to rank higher.
Audit Your Pre-Panda Content
If your website or blog goes back before February 2011, it’s a good idea to evaluate your pre-Panda content and comb outdated articles that might be holding you back. You might have to check a lot of blog posts, but a good clean up can freshen up your website in current rankings and eliminate some knots in its performance.
What Should Be Deleted?
First, you need to figure out what blog posts are completely outdated and not bringing any value, since they can actually damage your current ranking.
Here is the type of content that you should delete without regrets:
- Posts that are stuffed with keywords, particularly those that aren’t relevant to your brand, but you used in the past for generating traffic.
- Any duplicate content from a third party or from your websites. Google doesn’t like duplicates and it definitely dislikes copied content.
- Content that doesn’t meet minimum standards and doesn’t do your website a favor when it comes to user experience: it has grammar mistakes, it is poorly written, had nothing to do with the topics you would usually write about, and so on.
Mainly, any old content that is nothing to be proud of should be deleted from your website, as it can be detrimental to your ranking and credibility as a brand.
Pro tip: when deleting old content, you need to be aware of possible pages that had backlinks to it. You should do a 301 redirect that will take potential visitors to a valid page of your site. 301 redirects take users to your home page or a landing page that is similar to the deleted one.
What Should Be Kept?
While it is highly unlikely that content older than 2011 would still be valuable by today’s standards and generating traffic on your site, if your blog posts are not detrimental to your score (as seen above), you should keep them and update them where possible.
Existing content can bring value to your website in many ways:
One of the indicators Google uses to decide if your content is worth pushing up is if it’s getting good backlinks. That means that external websites are validating the value of your content by linking back to it.
You can use certain tools to check the backlinks to your old blog posts to decide if they are still good or not. A good backlink comes from a website with authentic content that is somehow related to the topics you cover.
You should also check the backlinks that are coming from your side, making sure that they still work. When possible, fix broken links and redirect your readers to pages that work properly.
2. Relevant Content
If the content you were writing before 2011 is still relevant to your audience today, of course, you should keep it. It may not be seen as “fresh content” by Google, but you can do a “throwback” mention on your social media and bring it back to light. Also, you should make a habit of linking to relevant posts on your website whenever you are writing something new.
3. Making Your Website Look Richer Than It Actually Is
Even if it doesn’t have backlinks directing to it, old content that is meeting the minimum standards can help you by making your website look bigger. You can call it “fluff” or “ballast” since it’s its job to make you weigh more and be ranked as a big website.
Evaluate Your Post-Panda Content too
Putting your post-2011 content through an audit should be easier, as chances are you adapted to the new rules that Panda brought, and didn’t go through any major shifts since then.
To make it easier, just ask yourself if those old posts can be considered ok by today’s standards. If they are harmless, yet not really impressive, they can still remain on your website and act as fluff.
Updating Your Old Content
In some cases, your old blog posts can and need to be updated to give them a boost in Google’s ranking. Here is how you can update your old content:
- Fix broken links;
- Edit the post with actual information, like referring to newer statistics, linking to relevant sources, and so on;
- Correct grammar and spelling mistakes;
- Include your content in a collection of related articles.
Doing keyword research should give you a good start in revamping your old content because it shows what your current audience is looking for and how relevant your website is. If the keywords you optimized it for in the past are no longer successful, you can consider updating the keywords.
Including multimedia in your old content is another way to make the best out of it, as it increases its value in Google’s search. Of course, include relevant materials and keep away from spamming.
Share your newly updated content on your social media accounts, letting your audience know that they can find new, exciting information on your blog.
Leaving your old content exactly as it is can be damaging to your website’s performance. If your website is old enough to have gathered many blog posts, it’s time to do an audit, check those statistics and update the content you decide to keep.
If that sounds like a task you don’t have the time to tackle, then maybe you should let us take care of it for you. Contact Australian Internet Advertising today and we will review your content, tell you what you can keep, and update your SEO strategy as needed.