How often should you delete old pages/posts that aren't evergreen?

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My blog has curated posts published weekly and covering industry news--i.e. NOT evergreen content, but content with a very short half life (~1-2 weeks).

 

Someone had suggest in this similar thread that old pages which don't get engagement can actually "do more harm than good" and that there's no point in keeping them if they're not being updated with fresh content.

 

Should I be deleting these regularly, since they rarely get visits or new backlinks more than a few weeks after publishing? If so, how regularly?

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_hubspot-button-accept-as-solution-gif-v00.gif

 

Q: How often should you delete old pages/posts that aren't evergreen??

 

Short A: Frequency depends on our content schedule, but we don't just want to delete the posts/pages.

 

Longer A:

If we're using a Topic Cluster content strategy we can 301 redirect outdated or poor performing posts/pages TO our Pillar Page, then delete them.
(see image)

_hubspot-topic-cluster-keyword-research-redirect-gif.gif


Example: 'Dog Grooming' Topic Cluster

-1- We discover that our article 'Washing at home vs using a professional groomer' is getting low traffic and no backlinks.

-2- We decide against updating the content (the preferred solution).

-3- We remove links FROM our Pillar Page to our article.

-4- We issue a 301 Redirect for the article URL TO our Pillar Page.

-5- We delete the article.

-6- We update our sitemap and resubmit to Google.


This tactic is especially effective if/when publishing lots of dated content with a short half-life. And, since removal of the links from our Pillar Page and the 301 Redirects take effect immediately we can schedule deleting the articles in bulk periodically.

 

In fact, we can schedule all of this work as frequently (or infrequently) as our content production schedule deems appropriate.

(see image -- Content Production Schedule EXAMPLE)

content-production-schedule.png

 

Here's what a couple industry leaders have to say about the topic.

- Update Or Delete Old Content On Your Site by Michiel Heijmans (Yoast)

- Why Your Best Blog Posts are Also the Oldest (And How to Get More Out of Them) by Neil Patel (Crazy Egg | KISSmetrics)

Hope that helps.

 

Best,
Frank

 

MFrankJohnson-dot-com-HubSpot-Community-banner-gif-v20190817

4 Replies 4
Community Superstar

_hubspot-button-accept-as-solution-gif-v00.gif

 

Q: How often should you delete old pages/posts that aren't evergreen??

 

Short A: Frequency depends on our content schedule, but we don't just want to delete the posts/pages.

 

Longer A:

If we're using a Topic Cluster content strategy we can 301 redirect outdated or poor performing posts/pages TO our Pillar Page, then delete them.
(see image)

_hubspot-topic-cluster-keyword-research-redirect-gif.gif


Example: 'Dog Grooming' Topic Cluster

-1- We discover that our article 'Washing at home vs using a professional groomer' is getting low traffic and no backlinks.

-2- We decide against updating the content (the preferred solution).

-3- We remove links FROM our Pillar Page to our article.

-4- We issue a 301 Redirect for the article URL TO our Pillar Page.

-5- We delete the article.

-6- We update our sitemap and resubmit to Google.


This tactic is especially effective if/when publishing lots of dated content with a short half-life. And, since removal of the links from our Pillar Page and the 301 Redirects take effect immediately we can schedule deleting the articles in bulk periodically.

 

In fact, we can schedule all of this work as frequently (or infrequently) as our content production schedule deems appropriate.

(see image -- Content Production Schedule EXAMPLE)

content-production-schedule.png

 

Here's what a couple industry leaders have to say about the topic.

- Update Or Delete Old Content On Your Site by Michiel Heijmans (Yoast)

- Why Your Best Blog Posts are Also the Oldest (And How to Get More Out of Them) by Neil Patel (Crazy Egg | KISSmetrics)

Hope that helps.

 

Best,
Frank

 

MFrankJohnson-dot-com-HubSpot-Community-banner-gif-v20190817

Regular Contributor

@MFrankJohnson

 

Thanks for your detailed response and the two outside resources you linked to--very helpful.

 

To be clear, the blogs I'm referring to in my original message are made from curated content and aren't part of a larger topic cluster. In most cases, it doesn't make sense to redirect them to a pillar page or other content in one of our clusters.

 

So to clarify a couple remaining questions based on your feedback:

 

1. It doesn't matter too much when we choose to delete/301 redirect old blogs that aren't performing and can't be improved by updating. What's important is that we routinely audit these blogs to decide which to update and which to delete/301 redirect. Is that right?

 

2. If there's no relevant pillar page, cluster content, or more recent/thorough blog to redirect an old blog to, it's best to just redirect to the main blog listing page ("/blog/"), or to the relevant blog tag/category if there is one. Is that right?

 

 

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Ok. Before we go too far down this rabbit hole, it's only fair to say that much of what we are able to control about SEO as humans is becoming less knowable as Google increases its use of RankBrain-like machine learning. (Moz, 2017)

 

At Search Marketing Expo (SMX) in San Diego (March 2016), Google's Paul Haahr, a top engineer involved in core ranking jokingly made the following statement with regard to RankBrain and which almost immediately went viral. Haahr said, "...I think we understand how it works. We still don't understand what it's doing exactly." (Haahr, 2016)

 

This is HUGELY relevant because it basically means that if the smart guys at Google don't even quite 'know' what RankBrain is doing exactly and Google began using RankBrain for every search beginning in 2016 (Search Engine Land, 2016)

 

... the rest of us don't really have a prayer trying to artificially influence ranking behavior. haha Smiley Wink

 

google-no-click-research-chart.pngBY RAND FISHKIN • AUGUST 1, 2018

 

 

That being said, if, when, and to where we 301-redirect poor performing posts still matters. A lot. Here's why.

 

Google's overarching goal in delivering search results is to answer questions from humans and machines more than 3 billion times a day better than any other source on the planet. In so doing, Google uses hundreds of ranking factors to determine when to increase and when to reduce page rank.

- see Google’s 200 Ranking Factors: The Complete List (2018) by Brian Dean (Backlinko)

 

Some of the user interactions level ranking factors that are likely to trigger a reduction in page rank when implementing 301-redirects include ...

-1- Organic click-through-rate -- (high = good for ranking)

-2- Pogosticking -- (high = bad for ranking)

-3- Dwell Time -- (high = good for ranking)

 

[Note: There are MANY other factors.]

 

Since ALL of these revolve around what a visitor does AFTER arriving on your newly 301-redirected page, "if, when, and to where you 301-redirect" can have a big negative impact on the rest of your site if you get it wrong.

 

>>1. It doesn't matter too much WHEN we choose to delete/301 redirect old blogs that aren't performing and can't be improved by updating. Is that right?

NO.

 

>>What's important is that we routinely audit these blogs to decide which to update and which to delete/301 redirect. Is that right??

YES exactly.

Again, "we can schedule all of this work as frequently (or infrequently) AS OUR CONTENT PRODUCTION SCHEDULE DEEMS APPROPRIATE."

 

Recommendation: Redirect only after page performance drops to what's considered 'low' relative to the rest of your pages.

 

Example:

If your bottom-10 performing pages get 10 clicks monthly with a bounce rate above 80%, that would be a good point at which we could say, "it's time to drop/redirect these pages".

 

>>2. If there's no relevant pillar page, cluster content, or more recent/thorough blog to redirect an old blog to, it's best to just redirect to the main blog listing page ("/blog/"), or to the relevant blog tag/category if there is one. Is that right?

 

Depends on the specific content of each blog targeted for deletion/301-redirection and its current performance level. But we'd be very careful with this 'blanket' solution. Here's why ...

 

Scenario

Say you blanket-redirect poor performing pages to a relevant blog tag/category page that currently gets 'x' clicks each month with a 'y%' bounce rate. Depending on what content is currently showing on that tag/category page at 'landing time', you now risk REDUCING the number of clicks THAT page receives thereby INCREASING its bounce rate ... both of which are bad. See how that works?

 

Based on this scenario, Google will begin to view that tag/category page as an increasingly poor performer and lower its page rank.

 

Not the end of the world, right? Hey, it's just a tag/category page that we don't care much about ranking anyway. OR, maybe we've set that tag/category page to 'noindex, nofollow'! Cool.

 

Now apply this same rationale to our /blog/ index page where content changes according to our CONTENT PRODUCTION SCHEDULE ... say weekly. And where we MUST have that page indexed by Google. See the problem?

 

Getting this wrong could, like eating wild-potato seeds, slowly cripple and eventually kill your blog by starving your blog index page of clicks and stuffing it with bounces! Smiley Sad

 

As long as you’re aware of the risks involved you are positioned to make an informed decision.

 

Recommendation: Find an SEO you can trust to not feed you wild potato seeds! Smiley Happy

 

Hope that helps.

Hope that helps.

 

Best,
Frank

 

MFrankJohnson-dot-com-HubSpot-Community-banner-gif-v20190817

Regular Contributor

Thanks @MFrankJohnson for the detailed follow up response--very helpful!

 

I'll add one more relevant resource I've since discovered, which is Ahref's article on SEO audits (see step 16).

 

They claim they deleted over 200 low-performing posts from the Ahrefs blog and saw 89% growth in organic search traffic. So this is cleary an important strategy, especially for those sites with a lot of content.