Updating your website involves cleaning house, and you may have the urge to simply delete pages you think have become too old or outdated.
But before you click any web pages off into oblivion, it’s imperative to know their traffic value, link value, popularity, and history. Just because a page is old doesn’t mean its content isn’t still valuable with your visitors and Google alike.
Organic Traffic Value
You may want to hang on to a page that brings you tons of organic traffic, or revamp one that used to bring in traffic but has petered out. You can determine the organic value of a page using the following steps:
- Log in to Google Analytics, applying an organic traffic filter
- Search for the specific page in the top landing page report
- Review the number of organic visits the page received in the past month, year, two years and five years
External Link Value
Even if a web page isn’t reeling in traffic at the moment, it may have been popular and useful enough in the past to earn a notable amount of user links. Tools like MOZ Open Site Explorer can give you the number of links the page has received, allowing you to determine who linked to the page and why.
If you decide to move a link-peppered page, you’ll want to maintain the external links by creating a 301 redirect to a new or relevant page. Knowing the external link value of a page can also help you craft similar bait-worthy content down the line.
Popularity from Human Traffic
A web page that’s not receiving tons of organic traffic may still get a lot of page views via direct traffic, social media, and related articles. Popularity goes beyond the SEO value of a page, and you may want to refrain from removing pages that are inundated with page views. Check out the page views in Google Analytics, reviewing total views for the past month, year, two years and five years.
The traffic history of a page illustrates its importance, even if the organic traffic or page views are no longer streaming in like they used to. If a page was previously a huge crowd pleaser as a top organic landing page or driving loads of page views, you may be able to resurrect the previous buzz.
If a page never enjoyed tons of page views or organic visits, you can probably rest easy about deleting it.
Resurrect, Redirect or Delete?
- Resurrecting pages that were once popular can be done by refreshing old content with a new point of view, up-to-date data or insight. Fresh social media promotion and a content marketing campaign can also give the page a new boost.
- Redirecting pages is a solid option for popular pages for which you can find a page or category with relevant content. Here you want to create a 301 redirect, which helps Google understand the page has been permanently moved to another location/URL. The 301 redirect helps Google update its index while maintaining the page’s existing organic traffic, rankings and links.
- Deleting pages may be safe for pages that have little to no SEO value or traffic value, and you’ll want to use a 404 or 410 code. The 404 code is “not found,” while the 410 is “permanently removed.” Google recognizes both status codes and will eventually remove the content from its index.
Frequently Deleted Content
Sites featuring job listings, classified ads, events and other content that expires and is frequently deleted require a robust solution to keep the site streamlined. Solutions typically involve either 301 redirects or the 404 or 410 option.
Improperly handling the deletion or redirection of expired pages can create significant SEO issues, severely bloating the number of pages Google indexes. Expired pages clutter the Google index, hogging your crawl bandwidth and frustrating users.
A thriving website is one stocked with content that is fresh and relevant. But it’s also one that builds on its past successes by redirecting or revamping old yet valuable pages instead of simply sending them off into oblivion.
Strategizing content, when and where it lives, is one small part of an optimized site. Make sure you’re frequently revisiting content so it provides valuable information and concerts.