Is removing old content a good idea – or will it hurt conversions?

The introduction of Google Panda may well have taken place nearly five years ago, but its power and potency still requires your utmost attention. This “old hat” service, which takes no prisoners when searching the Internet and penalising pages that don’t meet its exacting quality standards, is something that every business should always bear in mind, especially when it comes to old content.

Some are of the opinion that when content reaches a certain age, it doesn’t matter anymore. This is because Google already knows that the content is old and has previously classified it as irrelevant. But this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Providing it still exists on your site and remains accessible to Google’s algorithm, which incorporates Panda and its semi-regular updates, old content can have a damming effect on your search ranking. At the same time, it is bound to hurt conversions too, as less traffic will lead to fewer people signing up to newsletters or buying your products.

But is removing old content actually a good idea? With just a few tweaks and changes, you can improve the quality of your website copy but also capitalise on the benefits that stronger, higher quality content can bring, which includes better search engine rankings and more conversions.

What to do with old content

Even before Panda came to be, the typical approach towards content was creating a 500 word or less blog post about a keyword-focused topic that related to your brand or its products and services.

Now, 500-word pieces of content don’t always suffice in today’s extensive online world, with some saying that you need to double or even triple this previously prosperous length.

According to Medium, the ideal post should take around seven minutes to read and be about 1,600 words long. A similar study by SerpIQ recommended a figure of 2,400 words after counting the content of the top ten search results for a variety of queries.

So, how do you go about identifying and fixing old content?

Identifying and fixing old content

For sites with hundreds and thousands of old posts under 1,000 words, the prospect of auditing content will be quite daunting. However, the Panguin tool from Barracuda Digital can link up with your Google Analytics, scan your traffic history, compare traffic recorded with dates of known algorithm updates and flag any pages that noticed a sharp decline.

But once this content has been discovered, you will then need to polish up the copy and add more words according to what has changed since then. However, some blog posts might be beyond saving, requiring a complete and permanent removal.

With valuable and evergreen content, think about a rewrite that incorporates new data and more insights. If you can boost it up to 1,500-2,000 words and promote on social media, this content will become much more valuable.

If you have several short posts on the same or similar subjects, it might be worth merging this content into one article. This technique is perfect for FAQ posts, which bring together separate and segregated pages into one valuable resource.

However, don’t be scared to delete old posts that no longer serve a purpose or add value to the user’s experience. Even if they performed well a few years ago, some blogs could now be harmful to both SEO and conversion performance.

Written by

Director at Ruler Analytics with a background in online marketing and analytics.