Continuously adding new content to your website is a good thing, yes? It improves your SEO ranking (as Google loves new content) and draws in new customers. However, once you add new content, you should also be adjusting and changing the old content. It’s a common problem – websites that have tons of old content that still draw in the odd click, but visitors never go anywhere else on the site after. (This is called a bounce back.)
Every six months or so you should be completing an audit of your website content – or in other words, spring cleaning. Clear all the cobwebs and dust off all the shelves in your website. Your site is essentially an on-line store, whether you sell products or services. Think of it this way; if you found the dairy section of your local grocery store all covered in dirt with the cooler lights off, you would probably never visit that grocery store again, would you?
Why revisit content on old pages or posts?
The excuse – “no one goes there anyway” doesn’t work in a grocery store, so it sure doesn’t work for a website. By going through your content, you can streamline your site, which will make the search engine robots happy indeed. Each website is given a “crawl allowance,” and if your site is big and bulky with no real new content at all, the robot will just throw its hands up in the air and go onto a different site – leaving your website unfinished and uncrawled.
Fixing old content will also make it easier for users to browse and improve the user experience. As mentioned above, bounce backs are when a visitor to your website hits a page, and then automatically leaves that page afterward. Google Analytics is an excellent way to see bounce back rate for different pages on your site. A clunky website with tons of broken links and content that goes nowhere is a site that is dangerously close to dying.
Last but not least, changing up the content in your site will keep your site fresh. Visitors will come to your site, see that you’ve updated the content, and browse around some more to find out what you’ve changed. If you keep old content, it is likely they will just leave after seeing what you’ve added. Having fresh content throughout the site will draw them in, and have them clicking on new pages until they’ve gradually visited your entire site.
Which content should I clean up?
The easiest way to determine which pages on your site is twofold; look through your site yourself, note which ones have calls to action that impel the reader to either contact your company or click through to another site; the other is to look at something like Google Analytics to see the bounce back rate. A page with a high bounce back rate definitely needs to be looked at.
Some of the more common pages that would be considered old are anything time-related, such as events, sales and seasonal offerings. There are also products and services that you no longer sell, or you have changed the name of; anything that is obsolete. Perhaps you offer a new year’s sale, or have decided to no longer provide one service in your cleaning business (window cleaning, perhaps?). These are the types of pages that need to be taken care of.
How to clean up old content
There are four different ways to handle old content. Leave it alone, delete it, redirect it or change it. How do you determine which one of these actions need to be taken? Here is a simple list of the steps in order of preference: a) Redirect it, change it, leave it or delete it. Deleting the page is one of the last things that you should do, as it causes the visitor to get a 404 message – one that usually pops up when a page is completely dead.
If you can redirect the page to one that is similar, that is your best option. For example, if you are no longer offering a new year’s sale, but are having a summer sale, redirect the page to the one with the most current promotion. However, keep in mind that it may be confusing to readers; so ideally, you explain that your new year’s sale is over, but offer a link to the summer sale.
Writing or revising content on the page may be the most time-consuming, but it is also one of most ideal fixes. If you held a Valentine’s Day event last year, explain on the page that this year’s event is over, but keep on the lookout for one next year. You could also include pictures and details of this year’s event, which can draw in more attendees.
Last but not least is to keep the content as it is. This is the simplest, but in reality, it just leaves the problem for another year. But if there are still searchers landing on the page, and there isn’t a very high bounce back rate, there’s a reason for keeping it.