Making fresh content costs money. And it’s worth it, when it first goes up. The burst of social media support and traffic pays for itself. And on some level, you know it’s a long term investment that can keep contributing to traffic in the future. But eventually your content will become outdated.
Old content can have a host of problems. It can simply be inaccurate, like posts that refer to services you no longer offer. Other times, old content has stopped performing. It served its purpose once upon a time, but it stopped getting clicks.
Either way, you have options to make it good again. A recent article by Erin Everhart offers in-depth advice on how to salvage, repurpose or rewrite old content—or retire it gracefully. Here are two strategies from Erin’s article, plus some tips of my own.
#1 Revamp Your Old Content for New Traffic
Most of the time, no matter what’s happening with your old content you should not delete it. Deleting content means that articles that Google has already indexed now become dead-ends or, at best, redirects. You give up all the “SEO juice” those articles contained, either from keywords or links. Not a good idea.
Instead, try rewriting the content. Erin offers several suggestions:
- Keep it at the same URL. No matter how you rewrite old content, you should not change its URL. Any change will leave the old address acting as a dead end. That devalues your site and breaks old backlinks. Instead, rewrite it at the existing address.
- Update the copy and the call to action. Editing old content may allow you to increase its performance without harming SEO. Go through and update an old post to account for recent developments, new services, and current customer demands. At the same time, strengthen the call to action (or add one) so that conversions from the page increase.
- Put in new keywords based on new research. They keyword research you did six months, twelve months, or two years ago may no longer apply. If you have new keywords to include, add them in a way that feels natural to readers.
Once the rewrite is done, give the page a whole new round of social media support, as if it’s a fresh post.
#2 If You HAVE to Delete it…
Erin rightly emphasizes how rare it should be to delete old pages. However, there are cases where it’s a must. This includes discontinued products, job positions that have been filled, or other “no longer available” type content.
If you have to delete a page, you have two options:
- The 301 Redirect. A 301 will take search engines—and Google—to a new destination page, essentially eliminating the danger of a dead end URL. Even so, a redirected page is a lot less useful to a user than actual content is.
- Use static text. You do have one last-ditch alternative to deleting the page. That’s to rewrite it with a small snippet of static text that explains why the page has changed or been removed. For example, on the product page for a discontinued page, the text could say, “We no longer support this product, but find links to our customer service forum and similar products below.” This is a way to give the end user useful information despite taking down everything outdated. The trick is to provide context and a link to something else that may help them.
A Word of Warning
All of Erin’s advice is great. However, don’t go changing old content casually. Make sure you understand the old page’s “SEO DNA” first. That means the keywords on the page and the links it contains. Changing this essential structure could cause unexpected SEO or traffic problems—especially if it was still performing well.
Before you revise old content, pay attention to three factors:
- How much traffic the page has and where that traffic comes from. If there’s still a lot of organic search traffic, it probably shouldn’t be messed with.
- Outgoing links. The links on a page help determine its authority and relevance. If you remove existing links (other than spammy or dead-end links), you may collapse your SEO.
- Keywords. Find out what the page’s original keyword aims were and see if you can do your rewrite without undermining them. This goes triple for H1/H2 text.
Need help with your content, SEO, or search marketing? EverSpark is here for you. Contact us and get your free consultation today.