Is Old Website Content Harming Your Traffic?
Times have changed since Google Panda was released, but it’s still as relevant today as it was nearly five years ago. We look at how outdated website content may be harming your traffic and what you can do to fix things.
If you were an online marketer before the release of Google Panda, you’ll remember the problems it caused predominantly “offer-focussed” websites – by which we mean any website brimming with affiliate offers and very thin on the ground with quality, reader-friendly content.
We won’t judge you, everybody was doing it.
For better or worse, depending on your view of the whole thing, Google put a stop to that style of marketing when Panda came out, penalising websites in the rankings for providing such a one-sided user experience.
Nowadays it’s Google’s prerogative that every website provide its users with what they want, what they’re looking for, and what they’ll find useful/informative/enjoyable. That’s right, Google have our backs when it comes to pleasurable browsing experiences. And as such, marketing practices have changed dramatically.
The new way of doing things
What constitutes quality content nowadays is not the same as it was five or six years ago. Best practices once dictated that blog posts be no more than 500 words in length, usually composed around a keyword-focussed topic relevant to your niche.
Where a 500-word blog post was adequate, today 1000 words barely cuts it, and focussing the content of your post around a relevant keyword is questionable in terms of benefit. If anything, it can hinder the creativity, originality and overall quality of your content.
So where does that leave us in terms of pre-Panda content still sitting on our websites?
Despite what you may hear – about content of a certain age being inconsequential to Google, that Panda recognises older content is often ignored and is therefore irrelevant – outdated content accessible to the search engines can still harm your rankings.
This will mean conducting an audit of your back catalogue is required, making sure old content is up to scratch.
Penguin is a tool from Barracuda Digital that hooks into your Google Analytics (for as far back as you’ve had GA) and scans your traffic history; comparing traffic records with that of known Panda,
Penguin and any other algorithmic updates, flagging pages with a noticeable drop in traffic. This then enables you to easily and quickly locate pages where outdated content needs fixing.
How to fix old content
When it comes to fixing old content, there are a wide number of actions you could take in order to bring them to date, some more holistic than others.
Bulk up the wordage – We’ve already mentioned that posts nowadays ought to be around 1000 words or more. You can quite easily take an old 500-word blog post and expand upon points you’ve already made, adding new and updated information to give the post greater contemporary relevance.
If you have one or more short posts on a single subject (perhaps a series or running feature) then merge them to create one longer, more comprehensive piece.
Give it a fresh voice – If your old content is heavily keyword-focused then it’s going to be limited in terms of originality and creativity. Giving it a fresh new voice and a side-helping of personality will not only produce a better read, it can also improve ‘performance’.
Readers sticking around on the page longer and actually engaging with your content, which in-turn will improve the usefulness of your website in the eyes of Google.
Get rid and done with – There’s nothing wrong with deleting old content. In fact, it can be of great benefit in the long run, especially when that old content is outdated, irrelevant and underperforming.
Redirects exist for a reason – Naturally there’ll be concerns about deleting content, specifically as to how it may negatively effect things overall, which is why it helps to reassess old content carefully, going through the points we’ve mentioned above to see what can be salvaged.
Perhaps the biggest concern is the loss of any traffic already being directed to that content via inbound links from reputable sources. Again, if this is the case then it will require some thought as to what can be saved. Otherwise, there’s nothing wrong with redirecting traffic to newer, relevant content on your website.
Forget about the negative association with redirects. People will tell you redirects disrupt the user-experience and dilute traffic-quality. But traffic-quality will only be massively effected if redirects are used irrelevantly. As for disrupting the user-experience, we’d argue that disruptions like this happen frequently in valid site moves and changes to URL structures; so don’t worry too much about diminishing volumes should you choose to redirect.