Will Deleting Old Blog Post Affect SEO?
It’s a question that often comes up when someone has been blogging for a while, or when a company is changing directions. The best thing to do when you have this question is to do a content audit. When you delete old, expired, poorly written, or irrelevant posts it can help your blog’s performance however you want to make sure that you’ve made sure that is the case before deleting it. Many times it can be re-written, refreshed/updated, or combined and allow you to benefit from it that way as well. This Huffpost article is a great example of how deleting old blog post can increase traffic.
What is a content audit?
This will take inventory of all of your site’s content. Then, you will want to divide it up. Content audits are important, otherwise, after time your blog can essentially become an episode of hoarders.
Have 3 “piles”
- Helpful Content
- Content that does nothing
- Content that is low quality or bad
To help you determine the type of content it is here are some things to look at:
- Title: Is it optimized?
- URL: Is it SEO friendly?
- Publication date: Is the information fresh or out of date?
- The number of reads: The more reads, the better. High views are a sign of good content that connected with your audience
- Word count: This is not necessarily a sign of low-quality content, however, it could potentially indicate quality issues.
- The number of links: How many inbound and internal links do you have?
What is Quality Content?
Quality Content is:
- Answers Questions
- Solves Problems
Here is a great MOZ Video on how to provide unique value in your content.
What is Low-Quality Content?
- Has no target audience
- Has no goal or purpose
- Is not optimized
- Is unsuccessful- has little to no traffic coming into the page
Once you’ve combed through this information the next step is to decide how to handle the post in your “low-quality content” bin. There are a few options. You can re-write, consolidate, or delete.
- Currently gets little or no traffic.
- No longer attracts new links/shares.
- Doesn’t rank on Page 1.
- Is it indexed?
- No conversions.
- You have multiple articles on one topic.
- Gets some traffic; others get little or none.
- They do not attract any new links or shares.
- The article is not ranking on Page 1 or 2
- Two pages are competing on the same SERP.
Consolidating/combining content when needed gets the approval of Google’s John Mueller. He said of the topic:
“Probably. I think that’s something that generally… we see if you take two or three or four kind of weaker pages and merge them into one, even within the same site or externally, then that’s something where we can say that this is a stronger page.
We can see that… more parts of the site are referring to this one single piece of content so it’s probably more relevant than those individual small pieces that you had before.”
- Create one awesome piece of content.
- Start from scratch, but you can reuse any useful existing content.
- Make it better than your competitors. (See How to Monitor Your Competitors)
- When you do this, you’ll want to be sure you add a 301 redirect to the new (optimized) URL.
Once you’ve gone through this, if there is something left over you can consider deleting it. This content left over will have these characteristics:
- It’s low-quality content
- It’s poorly written or off-topic.
- It has no historic significance or is out of date
- It has a very low number of pageviews.
- It has few or no traffic, links, shares, conversions, or engagement.
What is Expired Content?
According to SEO Authority Moz, there are various things that can be considered “expired” content. Basically, it’s content that is only relevant for a limited period of time. Some examples of this would be job listings, expired products that are no longer sold, seasonal content that is no longer valid, and not helpful as a resource.
If the content cannot be improved or consolidated it can be best to delete it so that it doesn’t negatively affect your site.
There is some content that you will redirect to more relevant content or content that is performing better. Dr. Peter J Meyers has a great article on common HTTP status codes that includes a great infographic (pictured below).
Check out the Moz Guide on Http Codes for SEO.
Do I Need to Do a 410 error for a page that doesn’t exist or will a 404 do?
This was a question that came up during one of Search Engine Journal’s Webmaster Hangouts discussing if a 410 code is needed or a 404 should be entered with Google’s John Mueller he stated-
“From our point of view, in the mid term/long term, a 404 is the same as a 410 for us. So in both of these cases, we drop those URLs from our index.
We generally reduce crawling a little bit of those URLs so that we don’t spend too much time crawling things that we know don’t exist.
The subtle difference here is that a 410 will sometimes fall out a little bit faster than a 404. But usually, we’re talking on the order of a couple days or so.
So if you’re just removing content naturally, then that’s perfectly fine to use either one. If you’ve already removed this content long ago, then it’s already not indexed so it doesn’t matter for us if you use a 404 or 410.”
Performing a Content Audit is Key
If done correctly, deleting an old blog post can have a positive impact on your site’s SEO. The most important step to take first in deciding this is to do a content audit. The content audit will also help you determine if there is any post that needs to be refreshed/updated or rewritten to help improve its performance. Performing a content audit is the key to knowing if deleting an old blog post will be beneficial to your site.