We’re updating an old website for an educational organization. One of the questions that’s coming up is whether to remove old content or not. On the one hand, a bigger website is usually better from the point of view of SEO than a smaller website. On the other hand, there are good reasons for removing content.
Good reasons for removing content
Outdated information should be removed. Lists of board members from years ago, posts that no longer reflect your position or your business, products you no longer carry and services you no longer offer — there is no reason to keep that content on your website.
There may be history on your website. If your doctors got awards in the past, you don’t need to remove that information. The site we’re working on has content on important events and people they’ve been involved with in the past. There’s no need to remove this information.
But do make sure that there is a sense of what’s history and what’s current. Awards received in the 20th century may still be important, but they shouldn’t be presented as your latest news.
Poor quality content should also be removed. If you have old blog posts that really never should have been on your website in the first place, go ahead and remove them.
The site we’re working on had some small, low resolution photographs from the 20th century. If it’s possible to replace them with newer, better quality photos, it’s worth doing so.
Bad reasons for removing content
Poor performance may seem like a good reason not to keep a page on your website. But Google’s John Mueller recently asked a question about that kind of page: “Can it be improved?”
We’re not talking here about poor quality content, but that’s not a bad question for that type of content, either. Sometimes a page or post may not have very many visitors because it answers a specialized question that fewer people ask. It may still be valuable for those people, and those people may need your goods and services.
If some content doesn’t perform well, see if you can improve it. And make sure you’re looking at the right metrics.
Confusing content may get reactions like this one we saw in a recent survey: “It takes too much reading to find the information.” Good navigation and clean design are more likely to be the solution than removing the offending content, though. Make it easy to find and don’t force visitors to sort through lots of text to find what they’re looking for.
Sometimes “wordy” content or a dense design is the problem.
SEO myths can cause people to remove text when they shouldn’t. When people asked John Mueller whether removing pages would increase the SEO value of the pages they had left, he said no. It isn’t that Google shows people the best pages on your website, or picks pages from the ones available on your website. Google shows people the best pages for their searches.
Ideally, all your pages are the best possible answers to questions your clients and customers need answered.
When you consider removing content, start by thinking about how it can be improved. It may need to be brought up to date. You may need a fresh layout for the page, or even a new design for your website. Proofreading and correcting errors can make a difference.
Think about your navigation. We often see website owners trying to put everything on the homepage. They may think that visitors to their website will always start on the homepage.
In fact, any page of your website can be a landing page for someone searching for the information found on that page.