When should you retire your old content?

By: Jon Wade

Date: 14 December 2018

Getting rid of old contentIt seems like only yesterday that the entire country was going World Cup crazy. As England enjoyed its most successful campaign in decades, everyone was getting in on the action and creating football-themed content, from assessments of how far the team would progress to locally-focussed pieces suggesting bars and clubs that would be showing the action.

It's a perfect example of trending content that can attract serious traffic, but also has a very limited shelf life. When the England team was knocked out, interest in the tournament dwindled, and two weeks later, the World Cup was old news.

Evergreen vs trending content

When it comes to content like this, it does not take a genius to understand that it will only remain relevant for a limited time.

Compare that with an article on a similar theme that reviews some of the most successful England World Cup campaigns across the years. Sure, there will be peaks and troughs of interest depending on the seasonal popularity of football, but it will remain relevant and "current" indefinitely.

Deciding on the shelf life of individual pieces of content and what to do when they become a little stale is an essential, yet often overlooked, aspect of content management. Many sites blindly take a "more the merrier" approach, essentially assuming the job is done when the article is live, and all they need to do is keep adding more and more.

Don't allow stale content to ruin your image

Imagine walking into a shop at the beginning of December, and seeing it still full of Halloween promotions. You can see how harmful outdated content can be. It suggests that your finger is nowhere close to the pulse, and is enough to make visitors think twice about hanging around.

Even if the content itself is still relevant and attracting decent levels of traffic, it is still important to revisit it to ensure it is optimised for the latest SEO best practices. After all, something as simple as a slow-loading image can be enough to deter today's fastidious visitors in the smartphone age.

Retire or update?

The highly time-specific and trending content is actually the easiest to deal with. It is like cutting away last season's dead wood. Nobody wants to read about England's World Cup prospects or the best films to watch on Freeview this Halloween, so get rid.

The more difficult question is what to do about those pieces of evergreen content that have always served you well and proved popular with visitors, but are now sitting in the dark recesses of your blog. Here, you can consider giving the piece a spring clean to bring it right up to date.

Update the language, refresh the images with fast-loading SEO-optimised ones, and ensure that any statistics and supporting data are current. Also check for broken links, and where possible, update them to the most recent sources you can find.

Remember, there is far more to good content management than just churning out as many new articles as you can each month. Take time to assess your products, articles, news pieces and video content, and if some of it no longer adds value to your brand, remove it and create some fresh new content in 2019.

Sponsored post. Copyright © 2018 Jon Wade, content manager at FSE Online.

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