What to Do with Outdated Content: Update, Redirect or Rewrite?

By Andrew Garberson

For better or worse, we are witnessing a race to fill the Internet with information. Millions of pages are added each day at a rate far greater than they are removed, leaving lots of outdated content for people and bots to crawl through. Old info provides an unfavorable user experience, but is simply removing it from the website or search engines the best alternative?

The answer is no. And if the old page in question has inbound links, social shares or other SEO value, the answer is NO! For starters, deleting a page with oh-so-valuable links turns them into orphans because they point to a nonexistent address. Any SEO benefit derived from them is gone, leaving them to wander the world alone (and unlike Annie, they’ll never find their Daddy Warbucks).

Another option is to de-index the pages so search engines do not display them in the search results. That doesn’t exactly get me giddy, either. De-indexing old pages keeps them away from visitors, but it also keeps them away from potential visitors! See the problem? Cutting away at organic search traffic is never good for business.

If deleting the page is not an option, and neither is removing it from the index, what’s a webmaster to do? Well, you have come to the right place. Here are three healthy alternatives to consider.

Update the information. Perhaps a page has been live for several years and it is starting to show its age. The dates have long since come and gone and procedures and price points reflect different times. After all, a lot has changed in the business world since 2008.

Simply revise the content to reflect current happenings. Small corrections do not impact on-page metrics so no need to fear a fall in ranking. Search engines will barely notice. Unless, of course, those little corrections are, say, in the title and headers. If that’s the case, it is probably best to consider a 301.

Apply a 301 redirect instead of making big changes to title tags or large portions of content. 301 redirects automatically shuffle visitors to a more applicable page and send with them most of its predecessor’s page authority.

A redirect is perfect for a retired executive’s profile. It likely accrued lots of links over the years and it would be a shame to let them go to waste. A 301 permanent redirect to the directory of managers or the executive’s replacement would serve the website (and all of its visitors) very well. For more general pages, however, a redirect might not seem appropriate. It would make more sense to simply create all new content under the existing URL.

Write new content. Widgets were not selling well so the company decides to go in a different direction. These big changes can’t be made by updating tidbits, but the URLs and brand can be left as-is. It’s time to rewrite. Wipe everything clean but the URL, leaving the inbound links intact, and start from scratch: newly optimized title tag, appropriate Meta description and fresh content. It might not be the best option because search engine results and ranks will change, but all of those authority-building inbound links are spared from the orphanage, which is better than what would happen if you delete entire pages.

Moral of the story: don’t abandon accrued SEO credit. Never ever. Condemning links to a life of solitude on the street is neither good for you nor society. So, do your part and keep this world a better place.


Andrew Garberson is a Search Manager at LunaMetrics. When not reading, writing or embodying SEO, Andrew enjoys to travel, which means he speaks Spanish like a kid, writes Chinese like a child, and comprehends French like a toddler.

This article courtesy of SiteProNews.com

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Q and A: How can I improve my local rankings with minimal effort?

Question

Hello!

I have a client that offers a delivery service for their nursery products to approximately 90 towns within a 100 mile radius. We currently have a page on the website listing each town and the corresponding delivery charge in a tabular format.

We would like to begin targeting each town on an individual basis in order to attain better visibility in the SERPs for search queries including my clients’ products & specific town and/or county.

My initial thought, was to build a separate page for each town announcing delivery service to the particular area. However, this would entail a lengthy and time-consuming process, while raising duplicate content issues as well – unless a separate product & blurb was created for every page/town scenario… Can you suggest a more efficient approach to accomplish our goals?

Thank you for you time and input – it is appreciated!

Dino

Hi Dino,

Whenever you plan to make changes to a website you should ask yourself the question :

Am I doing this for my users – or am I doing it for the search engines?

If any planned change is exclusively for the benefits of the search engines, I would think long and hard before going ahead and doing it, as it could be considered ( by both your users and the search engines) to be spammy, and may have a negative impact on both rankings (search engine) and conversions (users).

In this instance, I would consider that a page dedicated to each specific town is probably a better user experience, than a single page with a list of 90 towns on it, so for me it passes the test.  However, as you have pointed out, simply having 90 pages of the same content – with just the location name changed, is not going to help your rankings (because of duplicate content issues) so if you go down this path, I’d recommend that you customise or rewrite the content for each page (“spinner” software may help with this).

You could also consider grouping the different towns into separate regions.  This could result in (say) 9 or 10 pages each covering a group of towns within a particular region.  This presents you with an easier task for providing unique, relevant  content.  It also has the potential benefit of being found on related searches for nearby towns (within the same region) which your client does not currently deliver to (and maybe could).

Writing content for lots of new pages is not a trivial task, so don’t kid yourself (or your client) that SEO is easy…. However, it can often be those little extra steps that you are prepared to take (that your competitors can’t be bothered doing) that makes all the difference between a #1 and a #11 ranking.

Andy Henderson
WebConsulting (SEO Brisbane)

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Q and A: What is Keyword Stuffing?

Question

Dear Kalena,

Is keyword stuffing a bunch of the same keywords or is it a bunch of unrelated keywords?

Willie

Hi Willie,

The term “Keyword Stuffing” describes the practice of  repeating a particular phrase (often many times) within the text on a single page.  Typically this would be done with the same or closely related keyword phrases – with the aim  of trying to raise the profile of that particular web page for search queries on that keyword.

Usually a few mentions of a particular keyword phrase (or related phrases) would be acceptable (and normal), but it quickly becomes very obvious to users if a particular phrase is repeated over and over again within the content of a single page.  This type of “unnatural” repetition of keywords can be very annoying from a users perspective and may actually incur search ranking penalties. If a search engine considers the page to be “over optimised” it is unlikely to achieve good rankings.

Whilst mentioning your target keyword a few times within the content of your page is sensible, overdoing it can be detrimental.  In most cases when you are writing content, you should be trying to write it for the benefit of  the user rather than the search engines.

If you are concerned that some of your pages might be “keyword stuffed” an easy test is to simply read them through.  If the pages read well, are informative and feel “natural” then you are probably OK.  If the content is awkward and there are obvious repetitions of particular keywords, I’d suggest that you consider re-writing the page.

A handy online tool that I often use to get a feel for what a page is about is Tag Crowd.  This tool allows you to specify a URL, or paste in text, and it will create a Tag Cloud of the content provided.  If one or two keywords jump out at you from the tag cloud it generates, it is possible that your page may be over-optimised.

Andy Henderson
WebConsulting SEO (Brisbane)

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Q and A: Is it really necessary to have 250 words of text on the home page?

QuestionDear Kalena

I am searching the web looking for an idea of how to redo my mortgage site.

I plan on optimizing many pages of content and am finding out that  local SEO companies that are placing high on search rankings barely have 150 or so words of body text– and that is on the home page. I thought the 250 words minimum was a “black and white” rule.  Is there some kind of exception to this? If there is, it sure will make my life easier.

Alistair

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Hi Alistair

Guess what? No rules in SEO are black and white.

200-250 words of text was actually just a rough guide that my friend (and SEO rockstar) Jill Whalen came up with over 10 years ago when she began optimizing web sites.

It’s just a lot easier to integrate keywords naturally into 2 or 3 paragraphs of text than it is to squeeze them into 1 paragraph of text. Why make it difficult for yourself? Give yourself more room to add keywords and feed search engines what they need to survive – text.

That said, if you believe you can naturally squeeze all the keywords you need into 150 words and still have your home page text sound logical and natural to read – then go for it!

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Like to learn more about SEO? Download my free SEO lesson. No catch.

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Keywords and how to choose ‘em

I ran out of time to write a blog post today, but did manage to answer a reader question over at SiteProNews so I thought I’d point you all to that as I know many of you are interested in keyword research.

William wrote to me asking two questions about keywords:

1) How do you know if a keyword merits time and energy?

2) How do you know which keywords your competitors are using?

I answered both of these in my post titled  How Do I Choose What Keywords to Target?.

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