Are you a content hoarder?

Darian O'Reilly / Friday, August 21, 2015

You built your site six years ago and in an effort to keep it current, you have been diligent about regularly adding new and relevant content. Great job, you are not only keeping your users engaged, you are also giving your SEO a natural boost. Life is good!

So what’s the problem?

When adding new pages, articles, videos and pictures to your site, have you given any thought to where this leaves the older stuff? Many are under the assumption that more is more in web content. Thinking that it will give users the impression that you have been around for a long time and add credibility to your business, they pile on the new with abandon.

“Why not have downloadable brochures for every service we have ever offered?”

“What about special events, it shows we are active in the community.”

“We should feature an announcement about each new team member, people matter!”


If you still have photos of that 2009 charity golf outing and bios of people who no longer work at your company, just like those turtleneck sweaters my husband has kept in his closet since he last wore them in 1997 ‘just in case’, it’s time for them to go. Not only are they clogging up your site, but no one wants to see them anymore and if someone happens on them accidentally, the only impression that they will be left with is that you haven’t updated your site in a really. long. time.

The Internet is forever

“But wait,” you say, “I HAVE gotten rid of them – they are not linked from anything anymore, there is no way that anyone can see them.”

Well, yes, there is. Search engines can still see those pages and will return them in results. Simply removing internal links to the pages will not actually remove access, you must delete the pages completely. Even after you have deleted them they can appear for several months in search results until your site is re-indexed so there is no time like the present to get started purging your outdated content.

What about archiving?

Certain types of older content like news releases and blog posts can be archived instead of deleted. NASA has news releases on their archive page going all the way back to 1990. Because people might actually be interested in reading them. Because, well, they’re about outer space! This timeframe is a little long for most sites however and no more than 5 years would be recommended for us non-astronauts. If you think you have something really special that you don’t want to get rid of beyond that point, don’t include everything from that timeframe, just filter out the really good stuff and keep that.



Where do I start?

It can be overwhelming to attempt a complete content cleanout all at once – especially if you have a larger site – but if you tackle one top navigation item at a time, starting with a simpler one - you’ll get rolling in no time.

It’s hard to say goodbye

Don’t be afraid to get rid of something. Yes it’s true, my family might get snowed in and decide to have a retro 90’s theme party and my husband would kind of wish he still had those sweaters, but is it really worth keeping them in his closet? If you really, really, really are having trouble parting with something just remind yourself that you are not wiping the content out completely, you are just taking it off of your website.


Loose ends

Remember to keep in mind all of the other places on the site that might be affected by your updates. Internal links, navigation and the often overlooked sitemap need some love as well.

Fringe benefits

But wait, there’s more! Going through all of your content to remove the old stuff will give you the very valuable opportunity to create a content inventory. You will undoubtedly identify areas that need some attention and probably even come up with ideas to restructure and streamline the content that you have remaining. Putting it all down on paper enables you to make a realistic game plan for the next steps to making your site awesome.