Update or delete? Clean up old content on your site


Sometimes the content on your site becomes irrelevant or outdated, so you need to decide whether to update or delete it. This is part of your regular content maintenance activities. There are several ways to do this and this article will help you decide which is the best solution for your old content.

Before we begin, you may be interested to know that it is ours SEO training for orphaned content can help a lot in cleaning up old content. Starting with a list of pages that do not have any internal links to point to them (these areorphaned content‘), we will guide you through 4 simple steps for a good spring cleaning of your content!

Update old content that is still valid

Let’s start with an example: We have on our blog article on meta descriptions which needs to be constantly updated to remain relevant. We just need to keep up to date with any changes Google makes to the way we handle meta descriptions. Sometimes they seem to be able to a little longer and sometimes they seem to go back to the old length again.

Our post helps writers and editors write meta descriptions, though the tips change over time. Although the article itself may be what we call it core contentits content needs to be updated to keep up with the latest standards.

You can easily create new, valuable content from your old posts by updating it and making it relevant again: old wine in new bottles, as the saying goes. You could e.g. combine three old blog posts on the same topic in one new post or simply replace old parts of your post with updated content.

Read more: How to update your content in 10 steps (and improve it) »

Professional advice: Create a clone of your post with Yoast double post greatly facilitates this process. The Rewrite and republish function allows you to draft a copy of your post, work on it, and publish an updated version without too much hassle. Your updated post will replace the original and the draft will be deleted for you.

Continue reading: Keep your content fresh and updated »

Delete irrelevant posts or pages

You probably have old posts or pages on your site which you no longer need. Think of a blog post about a product that you stopped selling some time ago and never plan to sell again. Or a prediction of an event that happened a long time ago. You may also have old pages with little or no content – you thin content pages.

These are just a few examples, but I’m sure you know which posts and / or pages I’m talking about. This old content no longer gives value, now or in the near future. In this case, you need to tell Google to forget about these old posts or pages, or give the URL a different purpose.

When I talk about deleting old content, I don’t mean just pressing “delete” and then forgetting about it. If you do, the content may continue to appear on Google for weeks after deletion. The URL could also have some link values, which would be a shame to waste.

So what do you need to do? Here are two options:

“301 Redirect” old post to related post

When a URL still has value because, say, you have many quality links pointing to this page, you want to use that value by diversion URL to linked. Redirecting 301 will tell search engines and visitors that there is a better or newer version of this content elsewhere on your site. Redirect 301 automatically sends people and Google to this page.

Let’s say you have an old post about a particular breed of dog. You need to delete it, so the logical next step would be to redirect this post to a newer post about this breed of dog. If you do not have this post, select the post about the closest possible breed. Conversion to the appropriate category may be an option in something marginal cases, but this should not be standard practice. What’s more, redirecting to the home page shouldn’t be an option – that’s it SEO anti-pattern.

Creating a redirect 301 (for example in WordPress) is not difficult, but do it with Yoast SEO Premium it’s as simple as pie. If you don’t already have one, ask about all accessories which are here in Yoast SEO Premium.

Tell search engines that content has intentionally disappeared

If your site doesn’t have a relevant page to redirect to, it’s a good idea to tell Google to completely forget about your old post by sending Google a “410 deleted” status. This status code will tell Google and visitors that the content has not just disappeared; you deleted it for a reason.

When Google can’t find the post, the server usually returns the “404 Not Found” status to the search engine bot. You will also find a 404 crawl error in your Google Search Console for this site. Eventually, Google will fix this and the URL will gradually disappear from the search results page. But it takes time.

The 410 is more powerful in the sense that it informs Google that the site has disappeared forever, never to return. You intentionally deleted it, period. Google will take action faster than the 404. Read more server status codes if that’s all your gossip.

Read on: How to properly delete a page from your site »

Do you have old content that you need to deal with?

Cleaning up old content should be a part of yours routine content maintenance to keep your website in shape. If you don’t review your old posts regularly, you’ll run into problems sooner or later. You may show incorrect information to visitors or damage your ranking if you have too many pages on the same topic, which increases your chances of cannibalization of keywordswhich requires a lot of work find and fix later. So rejuvenate your old posts and decide what to do: update, merge or delete.

Clean up your orphaned content with Yoast SEO Premium

A great place to start is your orphaned content, which is content on your pages or posts that have no internal links to them. You may be surprised, but most of us have orphaned content on our site. Which is a shame, as both your audience and Google won’t be able to find this content. This means you may miss a great place in search results and a lot of traffic.

To help you clean up old content, we’ve created it SEO training which identifies your pages and posts that have no links, and guides you through four simple steps to fix them. These steps allow you to decide whether to update or delete a particular page: like it or leave it. And when you decide to update it, it also suggests pages or posts from which you can link to this updated content. We help you fix orphaned content and update it at the same time!

The first step c orphan content training v Yoast SEO Premium

To use this exercise, you will need Yoast SEO Premium. You may want to try our other internal SEO linking exercise to help you rank higher with your best contentalso available in the Premium plug-in:

Unlock our SEO workouts with Yoast SEO Premium

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If you are not sure whether you are currently managing the content of your site well enough, we also have a SEO fitness test content this tells you if your content needs some more work to adapt to SEO. Try and find out where you are. Good luck with the cleaning!


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