How to Expertly Handle Expired Content
SEOExplode states that online content naturally reaches expiration or becomes stale sooner or later. Businesses eventually discontinue some products or services, things change with the business, etc. Expired content is simply a fact of life when you are doing business on the Internet.
However, dealing with expired content – now that’s a knockout question. Do you simply delete the content? Create fresh content and repost them on the same page?
Beef them up with new information and just keep the URL because it’s been surfacing on Google for a long time? Today’s blog post will focus on the questions that revolve around expired content, and what to do so your SEO doesn’t get hit just because of expired content.
If you own a website with hundreds or thousands of posts, going through all that content one by one is going to be a disaster.
It will take up too much time, for one, and it’s easy to make mistakes when you’re dealing with a huge volume of pages and write-ups. But then again, there is no catch-all answer for determining what should happen to expired content in the first place. However, it is important to ask the following essential questions:
– Does the content still provide relevant information to the customers?
– Does analytics show that the page itself is ranked highly, and is preferred by Google when it comes to surfacing results for high value search terms?
– Does the page have high organic referrals? Organic referrals are backlinks and other types of mentions on websites and even social media.
– Do you have content that you can use to replace the old content that could potentially perform better?
– Does it potentially contribute to index bloat?
These guide questions will likely provide the insights you need to determine what to actually do with so-called expired content. Let’s talk about each one and how these facets of content affect recycling, updating, or removal of older content.
Does the content still provide relevant information to the customers?
If a page or post still has relevant content on it, there’s no real need to remove it unless it’s an old product or service that simply does not exist anymore on your website. Archiving old content ensures that there’s space for more relevant content so that Google can surface newer posts or pages with updated information.
But let’s say that you inadvertently created evergreen content because you outdid yourself in creating a well-structured page with lots of information, photos, and even links to other relevant references.
The stats stack up that people love the page, but the page is already a few years old. What do you do? Judging from how Google actually show results, your content should stay up, because in the absence of better content, Google doesn’t mind showing results from 2, 3, or even 5 years ago.
Does analytics show that the page is still showing good ranking signals?
All discussions about expired content will eventually circle around data (or, this should be the case, as data is the only reliable basis for SEO decisions). Again, if the page is showing good ranking signals, there is no reason for you to remove the page.
What if you choose to update the old page instead?
Updating old pages with new information and perhaps images and videos is always a good idea. However, Google remembers the content on the pages and the newly added content may not be ranked the same way as the old content.
So if you are going to update an old page, don’t change the old text too much – just add sections. This will ensure that Google’s old index or ‘memory’ of the page remains the same, and your page will not suffer a reduction in relevance for your target search terms.
Do you have content that you can use to replace the old content that could potentially perform better?
This is a huge issue especially for business owners that have plenty of websites but not enough fresh content to go around the websites that are serving a single niche. If you don’t have new content for replacement don’t remove old pages.
Add new pages if you want, but the older ones that have been indexed should stay up unless the criteria for removal that we discussed earlier apply to them (e.g. the pages talk about products or services that are no longer being offered). If the information is just old, the best option would be to just update the pages.
Does it potentially contribute to index bloat?
Index bloat happens when a website is packed with too many pages, and this makes it difficult for Google to index the entire website.
The slower the indexing, the less effective the overall approach, because as much as possible, we want to create a clear entryway for spiders to crawl our websites’ indices with ease. The less challenging it is to make sense of the context of a website, the better off you will be.
How do you achieve clean indexation?
Bloating occurs when Google picks up things on your website that don’t really correspond to your short term and long term goals. But we get it: content production isn’t perfect all the time, and there’s a huge chance that once in a while, you put up a bad page.
This rings true for websites that are developed by external teams, and if there’s no proper management of these teams. Business owners can end up with a bloated website and they wouldn’t even know what him them in the first place.
There are other potential problems that can prevent Google from indexing a website efficiently. For example, if the URLs are not human readable (i.e. made of random strings of numbers and letters), then that’s going to be a problem.
Page titles must also make sense, because all HTML data are read, indexed, and eventually graded by Google to see how relevant the page in question is to the current search. Messy URLs and page titles that don’t make sense will eventually affect the degree at which your content can be surfaced by the search engine.
Let’s say that you don’t want to remove your old pages because nearly all of them continue to have informational value. The permanent redirect is the solution for people who recycle almost all of their content. If this is the case for you, then it’s important for you to know that permanent redirects can actually delay the indexing of websites.
What’s more is when you redirect to another page, that page has to be a clear replacement of the page that you just redirected.
What this means is that if you are keeping the page up for whatever reason and choosing to redirect it, then you must give the user another page that has relevant content – because if you’re just leading them back to the homepage to do another search, that’s going to be a problem.
Well, it might not look like a problem to you, but Google sees that as an obstacle to page relevance, and Google just might penalize your website because of those redirects.