Have you ever had this feeling?
You check out an old blog post and think, “I hate how I wrote this post, and it’s soooo old. My blog is so much better now. Maybe I should delete the old posts I don’t like anymore. Wouldn’t Google prefer fresher content anyway?”
Reviewing old blog posts can feel like looking at old pictures. It’s easy to have cringe-worthy moments and think, “Why did I think that weird hairstyle was ever okay?”
Oh, how I understand that feeling. But does deleting content make sense for your site (and your SEO campaign?)
Let’s break it down:
Should SEO content be deleted because it’s old?
Somewhere in the sands of SEO time, a content ageism myth arose that implies site owners should purge all old content. In a Logan’s Run-like SEO strategy (my Gen Xers will know the references), all content over a certain age would be eliminated.
Sure, some articles may never see any traffic, may be dreadfully written, or — like the old blog posts of yore — may only include a couple of sentences like, “Hey, I’m speaking at this conference. Come find me.”
It’s okay to let those go. I’ve discussed how to decide to keep or delete content in this post. You’ll even see an old photo of me!
- You can update the content and change the featured graphic. For instance, are there new articles you can link to from your old content? I wrote a guide about updating old content a couple of years agoto .
- You can create new content that links to your older content assets. For instance, if you’ve written posts tracking industry trends for ten years, you could create an “Industry Trends Over the Years” page that links to older articles.
- You can…do nothing and let the post fly as-is.
Does Google recommend deleting old content?
Deleting old content isn’t a magic bullet to help you get better rankings (unless we’re talking about sites with thousands of pages and significant architecture issues.) Google isn’t going to look at your site and say, “FINALLY! They deleted the old content! It’s time to position the site #1 for all the keywords.”
In fact, your site may lose long-tail positions if you start deleting content without a sure strategy. You may not like some of your “unhelpful and old” pages — but your readers may feel differently.
But what if the page is really bad, and you haven’t figured out if you should fix or delete it.
Like a good friend, Google will overlook your content shortcomings and ignore the page. The page won’t hurt you — but it certainly won’t help.
Here’s the Search Engine Roundtable post if you want to learn more.
What does this mean to you?
- If you manage a blog, review your posts every six months and look for opportunities. You may not find posts to delete, but you may pinpoint new internal linking, content repurposing, or social promotion ideas.
- If you work with clients with older blogs, consider if you can help them evaluate and breathe life into older blog posts. If nothing else, you can update a post with new information, graphics, and links.
Bottom line: Just because the content is old doesn’t mean it’s terrible or outdated — even if you may cringe at your old writing style.
It typically makes more sense to keep old SEO content — especially since deleting it doesn’t help your SEO.
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