How to safely purge your content

If it ranks well and you delete it, you’ll hurt its traffic. If it’s been linked to and you delete it, you’ll break those links. Here are three options to clean house responsibly.

  1. Redirect

Create a 301 redirect to the closest corresponding page and you’ll avoid ever sending a visitor or Googlebot to your ‘404 page not found’ page.

  1. No index the page

Leave the page alone, but tell the search engines to ignore it. Add a the noindex meta tag, usually possible through your content management system or a plugin. It adds this code to the page:

<meta name=”robots” content=”noindex” />

And if you have an entire directory of pages you want to keep out of Google, you can “disallow” them from your robots.txt file.

Keep in mind that this option won’t keep them out of your internal site search. They may still be mucking up your site search results.

  1. Repurpose, rewrite, combine

Don’t trash it. Recycle. Keep the URL but rewrite the page.

It’s the most work but has the greatest rewards. Updating old content is one of our most effective tactics. Our friend Dana DiTomaso suggests combining several weak posts into one strong one, rather than rewriting.

“Sometimes you’ll find several blog posts on the same topic but they’re all mediocre, so none of them rank. If the content is still something you want to keep, then combine them into a much better post and redirect the old posts to the new one.” – Dana DiTomaso, KickPoint