Most people don’t venture past the first page of Google and even when they land on a page they’re spending 15 seconds or less.
The content must convey value within that short timeframe to keep them engaged. An immediate negative to this engagement is outdated information.
People prefer recent information which is why Google responded by introducing the Hummingbird Update. Part of the update gave favor to timely pieces.
This begs the question of what to do with the outdated content on your website.
Remove Outdated Content: The Easy Way
Ask yourself these questions:
- Is the topic one that changes often?
- Have I updated the piece recently?
- Are there better, popular alternatives?
An “of all-time” post that’s littered with outdated screenshots, stats, strategies, and resources have little benefit. They do not hold up to this “best of” moniker.
Nor does it matter if it’s SEO-friendly content. Someone will come along, make something better (timely), and traffic will drop because Google plays favorites with fresh content.
The easiest way to remove outdated content is by:
- Deleting or archiving the content
- Redirecting to a new page
Content abandonment happens when site owners grow tired, bored, or lazy with updated their pillar articles. Often, republishing the post with new updates and timestamp will do the trick.
Yet, this isn’t always the case if the topic dynamically changes since its inception.
There’s value in these older pieces even when they’re removed. External backlinks will continue to drive traffic to the site.
Redirect the incoming traffic to a new page on the site or a fantastic 404 page with plenty of choices to explore. Further, place a blurb telling visitors the info is outdated but left up for archival purposes.
An Example of the “When” in Removing
Let’s take the use of 20XX in topic & title as an example.
Placing “2017” is a great way to tell Google and search engine users the information is current and entices click-through. The result is higher relevancy within search results and website traffic. It will also improve chances of gaining backlinks.
Yet, time goes on…
There are instances where topics covered are no longer viable due to the new year, a shift in the industry, or waining interest from the community.
Say you were covering “dog probiotics” (click here for an example) but a couple of the suppliers go bust. If this information isn’t updated then it lacks value to the visitor seeking current recommendations.
This would be the main indicator to remove the offending article and start fresh.
The Benefits of Removing Outdated Content
What benefit does removing the content have versus letting it stick?
First, remove the aggravation when visitors receive outdated information. This negative first impression will end the chance of them exploring the website.
Second, outdated information can cause legal issues or harm. Recommending a product that has since been recalled is dangerous. Another instance includes a negative public perception of the business. Negative perception may tarnish your brand due to the conflicting recommendation.
Third, removing low quality pieces improves the quality of the site. There’s less filler so visitors are only finding the best works.
Going Deeper with the Removals
Google has a form to submit removal requests.
Completion of this form will deindex the page from search results.
Using link building tools to find backlinks and emailing site owners to update or remove these links is also beneficial. Doing so will prevent users from landing on dead/outdated pages and feeling bamboozled.
There’s no guarantee or fixed time if or when these links are removed. All you can do is remain patient, continue to edit/remove outdated content, and focus on publishing fresh, engaging pieces to the site.
What is your process to remove outdated content?