If you’ve had your blog for a while, it’s very likely that you have some posts in your archives that make you cringe. It may be tempting to hit “delete” on each of them and send them into the dustbin of history, but wait! Some of them might have the potential to add value to your site. Below, we’ll outline a process for auditing your old posts and deciding which ones to update, which ones to delete, and which ones to direct to another page.
First, you need to take inventory of all of your blog posts. Use Google Analytics or a tool like Ahrefs.com to take inventory of your priority blog posts. To determine the value of an article, it’s especially important to know the number of pageviews it’s gotten and the number of inbound links it has.
Now, it’s time to sort through your list:
- Any blog post that has a high number of page views and/or links pointing to it is an automatic keeper. That doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement (more on that below), but it does mean you don’t want to delete it.
- Note any blog post topics that are repeated. This is often inevitable if you’ve had your blog for several years.
- Also, note blog posts that are about topics that aren’t relevant to your business. Your grandmother’s Swedish meatball recipe might be fabulous, but it doesn’t belong on the blog for your jewelry store.
- Rate the quality of each blog post by looking at the writing, organization, and word count.
- Determine the usefulness of each blog post. Content could be relevant to your business, but it may not offer any useful takeaways for the reader.
- Find blog posts with plagiarized content, images that were taken without permission, or inaccurate information.
Articles that are accurate, up-to-date, getting traffic or engagement, rank well, generate conversions, and/or have quality inbound links should be kept as-is. Don’t make any changes.
When to Delete
More isn’t always better when it comes to website content. Quantity only matters when paired with quality. If Google has to crawl hundreds of blog posts to find a dozen that are worthwhile, it reflects poorly on your site. Deleting content from your website is like pruning dying leaves off of a plant—the result is a healthier website.
Deciding how much to prune away depends largely on the time you have to do updates. Some posts clearly need to be deleted:
- Thin content that is outdated and cannot be updated. This could be the announcement of a Labor Day sale or the introduction of a new team member who has since left the business.
- Content that is completely irrelevant. Bye, Swedish meatballs.
If you don’t have the time or budget to make updates, you may also want to delete posts with plagiarized content, poorly written text, low word counts, and little useful information. The best-case scenario is that you’d keep these posts on your site and improve them (or hire someone else to improve them), but if this isn’t an option for you, you’re better off deleting them than leaving them up.
What to Do With Deleted Content
You should never just delete a blog post. It should always be redirected. That Swedish meatball post can be redirected to your homepage; other posts may be 301 redirected to another relevant blog post, your homepage, or another page on your website.
If you have two or more blog posts about the same or similar topics, choose the post that ranks highest and set the others to redirect to that one. If there’s useful content in some of the posts that you’d like to add to the post you’re keeping, you can do that, too.
How to Improve Old Blog Posts
After you’ve dealt with the posts you want to delete, it’s time to get to work improving the rest. Naturally, the improvements you’ll make will depend on the issues these blog posts have. Here are some steps to take:
- Do on-page SEO. If you started blogging before you had an SEO plugin (such as Yoast), you’ll likely have some SEO work to do. Even if you did use an SEO plugin, you’re probably more knowledgeable now, or perhaps best practices have changed (such as the recommended lengths of meta descriptions). Find the best keywords for the article, add some internal links, and optimize.
- Edit. If the meat of the post is good, but the grammar, spelling, and organization are lacking, edit the post to improve its readability. Add headers to break up the text and make the post easily scannable.
- Expand the content. No more 200-word blog posts! You should be hitting at least 500 words, so expand any posts that are too short. One easy way to do this is to search your keywords in Google and pull some questions related to the topic from the “People also ask” section and draft some FAQ content.
- Bolster your E-A-T. Make sure the information shared in your posts is accurate. If your blog falls into the category of Your Money or Your Life, make sure there’s a byline from an expert on the topic.
- Update images. If you used 300-pixel wide images 10 years ago, but today you use full-screen images, those old blog posts can look out of place. Add better photos and, while you’re at it, make sure they have a good alt description.
- Add internal links. Finally, look for opportunities to add internal links from your blog post to other blog posts as well as product/service pages on your website. Adding internal links can help improve the user experience while also helping sub-pages rank higher in Google.
What to Do After You’ve Updated a Blog Post
You can republish an updated post to the front page of your blog to give it new life, send it out in a newsletter, or promote it on social media. (Or, better yet, do all three!) If you have limited time and budget, we recommend simply putting a pause on writing new posts while you go through and update your old ones. Chances are, most readers of your blog won’t notice that you’re republishing older content.
After you’ve gone through to delete and update low-traffic content, you’ll start to see results as Google recrawls your site and your audience rediscovers these newly updated posts.