There isn’t a right or wrong answer to the issue of removing old blog posts for SEO purposes. It depends on what kind of business you have and how much traffic you expect your blog to get once it’s indexed by the search engines. When in doubt, don’t delete.
Organic Search Traffic
If your site is receiving traffic to a blog post, you don’t want to remove it. Instead, it would be better to update the post and keep receiving the traffic.
However, if your site is not receiving any traffic for the blog post, it would be better to remove it. It will increase the amount of space you have to post new content and this will potentially increase organic search traffic down the road.
Articles with Backlinks
Another reason to keep a blog post would be that it is earned backlinks. If that post has backlinks pointing to it from other authority websites, then keeping the post live will help maintain the current page rank.
And if that page is internally linking to another page on your website, you are passing link equity from that page to the receiving page.
Therefore, deleting that post could, in turn, hurt the ranking on the page it links to.
If you have a post on your blog with content that is very outdated, it may be time to remove the post. If the page is not generating any traffic, and doesn’t contain desirable content, it’s probably OK to remove it.
Furthermore, if the page looks unattractive because it’s not mobile-friendly and does not use Google AMP standards, it may be time for this URL to see its last day as well.
Two Pages, One Target Keyword
Sometimes, bloggers will mistakenly create multiple pieces of content that focus on the same primary keyword. In this case, it’s best to remove one of the pages. First, check Google Analytics to see which page is generating the most traffic. Then, you can redirect the lower traffic earner to the larger traffic earner. If you like, you can remove the redirected page as long as the redirect remains in place.
If you have pages that don’t serve a true purpose and aren’t well built out, they could be hurting your search engine optimization efforts. A tool like SEMrush can tell you which pages are considered thin content.
These pages provided they aren’t performing well on Google, can be refreshed or removed.
It’s a best practice to refresh prior to removing.
It might be worth removing articles that were created to promote a specific event. If that event is no longer occurring, it may be no longer be relevant. Once the event has passed, visit Google Analytics to determine if any traffic was generated for that post. If not, you can safely remove it from your blog.
Trash it, Not Delete it
If you are using WordPress, you can put the post in the trash, which is a file folder. When you put a post in the trash, it stays there until you permanently delete it. This is a nice safety measure, and a best practice when removing a blog post.
Even if you are removing your post, you can use this method to keep it around for a period of time.
If you decide to take the trash option, just be sure that once you remove the post altogether, you implement an appropriate redirect to help increase your organic search engine rankings.
When it’s OK to Delete a Post
Generally, you want to remove a post if it is not generating any traffic and is not a high-ranking page on your website.
If it’s been shared less than 10 times, the content may be weak or you might have under-optimized the page title or headlines. In this instance, you should improve upon those aspects of the post before attempting removal.
Make sure that all your links work properly by checking them out at the Google Webmaster Tools. Next, check to see if there are internal links pointing to that now-dead URL.
Lastly, you can try checking with an online tool like Broken Link Checker to help ensure that everything is working as expected and no redirects need to be created for live links pointing to bad URLs.
Whether you’re looking to remove an old post or simply refresh content, be sure to redirect it properly. Once the page is redirected, check Google Analytics and internal links regularly to make sure everything looks and functions as expected.
Once you’ve refreshed the content and implemented proper redirects for your new version of the page, monitor that URL regularly using Google Analytics. This way, if that relocated page starts generating traffic you can quickly return it back to its original position on your website.
But remember: If you’ve removed a post that was generating traffic for you, be sure to develop a strategy for replacing it.
Submit the New URL
If you create a new page and redirect an old page, it might be worth submitting it to Google through Google Search Console. Doing this ensures that Google knows about the new page, which might help it rank for similar keywords.
Visit the URL inspection tool and enter the new URL. Google will attempt to detect the URL in its database. Once it verifies that it has not already indexed that content, you can submit the new URL to request that Google add it to its index.
It can be risky to remove pages yourself if you don’t know what you are doing.
There are often hidden consequences when attempting similar tasks, so it’s best to leave this kind of action up to professional SEOs with experience in the industry.
My brothers Jeff and Paul Helvin work on WordPress Websites and can be hired on a project basis.
It’s always better to update a blog than to remove it. If you have absolutely no use for a blog post, and it’s not ranking, receiving backlinks, or generating traffic, then it might be OK to remove it. Always redirect a removed page to a more relevant page.
Lori Ballen is a real estate agent in Las Vegas. She’s a digital marketing specialist, speaker, and marketing coach and loves to share her “Ballen Method” to generate website traffic and leads online. Lori’s specialties are SEO content writing (ranking on the search engines), social media strategies, and affiliate marketing. Need a website? Contact Lori’s brothers Jeff and Paul Helvin at Ballen Brands.