SEO 101: Old content on a website – delete it or not? A full guide on how to maintain a big website SEO-healthy and easy to manage.


Do you have a big website with lots of pages and old content, or an online blog? You need to make some ‘house-cleaning’ from time to time to keep up the good rankings in Google! Do you know how?


In fact, having a big website, like, for example, a blog, where you are constantly publishing content, may seem like a great idea to get on that first page of Google’s results, as you always dreamt, right?


Well, yes, and no. Yes, you need to have fresh, good quality content coming in on a regular basis – ultimately, the more pages, the more opportunities to rank. And no, having lots of pages without any order, with old content, and in total chaos, can actually have the opposite effect and hurt you SEO-wise.

At the same time, your customers will, most likely, also get lost on your website, if it is just a large number of pages without any particular logic.


One way or the other, there will come a day when you realise that you have lots of content that is now ‘old content’, especially if you have a blog on your website. Some of that content is still pretty relevant, other not so much. What should you do? Marie-Condo-away and delete all the old content, clearing the way for new one? What about Google and SEO? And also, it just feels wrong to delete something that you’ve dedicated hours to.

So, the question remains – what should you do? Delete the old pages? Update the old content and just publish it again? Leave as it is?


We’ve prepared for you a list of steps to streamline the process and make the decision easier, so let’s get to it:

1. Analyse each page in terms of its usefulness, relevancy and SEO performance.
First, check if the page is worth keeping from your customer’s point of view – see whether the information on said page is still relevant and helpful; or maybe you have some fresher statistics or some better tips to give? Secondly, analyse the page from Google’s point of view – check its organic position in Google Search Console; see in Google Analytics whether the page brings in traffic or if, maybe, it has been over a year since anyone viewed it.

2. Based on your previous analysis, decide what to do with the page – delete, update, or keep as it is.
If the content has become useless with time (for instance, you no longer offer that service), you can delete the page. If the page is still useful but the information conveyed in its content is out of date, you may decide to refresh and rewrite said content. Or maybe, the page is still relevant and brings a good and steady volume of traffic to your website. In that case, leave it as it is – do not fix what is not broken.

3. What to do should you decide to DELETE the page.
Yes, we feel your pain. You have dedicated hours to writing good content and preparing that page, and you feel it deserves to stay. But if its copy is old content and not relevant anymore, or if the page hasn’t been receiving any traffic for some time now, it is actually better to delete it. Just don’t forget to redirect (with a 301 redirect) that page’s URL to a new page that has similar content and can work as a good substitute.

4. What to do should you decide to UPDATE the existing page.
If you decide the page is worth keeping, make sure its content is really the best answer you can give right now to your potential customers. Update the statistics, add the new options that you recently started to offer, etc. But don’t just stop at the content, also:

4.1. Update the title and description for the page – adding something like ‘manual for 2022’, or even just ‘2022 updated’ to your page’s title can significantly help you with its CTR. Because when we search for something in Google, we all want to get the most recent information possible. And even if you are not in the news business, and your industry’s reality doesn’t change frequently, we can guarantee that a user will, most likely, click on the link that he or she feels is the most recent.

4.2. Update your images – sometimes your copy might still be very relevant, but the images are showing something ‘outdated’. You don’t need to change the images all the time, just make sure that nothing on them is giving away that feeling that they have been taken 10-20 years ago (keep an eye out for technology pieces, designs, city street views, etc). For some industries, like interior design for example, refreshing the images regularly is a must-do.

4.3. Check all the links on the page – if you added links to other websites, resources, or other pages within your own website, make sure they are all still working. If some are broken, because their ‘old content’ has been removed, find a good substitute, and fix the link.

4.4. Check the page’s URL – this is a general recommendation: always use timeless URLs, avoid having something like… in your URLs, because it will make your content get old quicker than necessary. If you do happen to have an URL with a date or year in it, change it, but do not forget to redirect the URL’s old version to the new one (with a 301 redirect).

5. What to do should you decide to KEEP the existing page.
So, your content is relevant, and the page is bringing in lots of traffic due to its nice organic position. Good job! Most likely, you needn’t do anything, and you can safely keep the page as it is. However, don’t forget to analyse it in terms of keyword cannibalism within your website.

The problem with a bigger website is that, the more pages you have, the more likely it is that your pages will be about similar topics, thus ranking for similar keywords. But, unless your website has some crazy domain authority (like Wikipedia, for instance), it is very unlikely that Google will let you have more than one place on its first page of results, and therefore only one of your pages will get to be shown. Nevertheless, for this to happen that page will need to compete not only with other websites, but also with the other pages of your own website that have similar content. You are thus taking the task of ‘ranking well’ from very hard to almost impossible.

To avoid this kind of issue, you need to evaluate several options – use the site structure technique or the merge the content technique:

5.1. The site structure technique – identify the pages that are ranking for the same keywords. See the analytics on each one and choose the best performing one. That page will be your ‘main’ page for that target keyword topic. Now add links from all the other pages, that rank for the same keywords, to your ‘main’ page. This will tell Google exactly what you need – all those pages are about the same topic, but one of them is more important than the others, as all the links point to it, so it’s supposed to rank better.
You can actually use internal linking in a number of useful ways. So, if you’re interested in this subject, check out our article ‘SEO 101: Internal links – the dos and the don’ts‘ for more ideas.

5.2. Merge the content technique – take two, three or more older pages as inspiration and write one great piece of content that includes the information on all of them. Then put this new content on the best performing page (refer to Google Analytics to make this choice), redirect (with a 301 redirect) all the other pages to that chosen one with the new content, and voilà! Now you have a fresh page that still uses the ‘SEO power’ of all the old content pages (being published on an old URL and the 301 redirects will ensure this) and you didn’t lose any piece of content by deleting a page.

And that’s it on updating, deleting and recycling your website’s old content! Seems like a lot of work? Well, it is a lot of work, if you leave all these tasks to be done together, once a year or even less often. But, if you regularly ‘book’ some time on your diary to analyse the performance of your older pages and to do some maintenance (thus dividing the task into smaller fractions) you will actually go through it quite quickly.


When was the last time you analysed your website‘s old pages? Do you even know how many pages your website has? Maybe, it is time you start this ‘house-cleaning’ project, one step at a time.

So, good luck and happy optimising!

Three girls who love working together in digital marketing and still find the time to write interesting articles! If what you read makes sense to you, and if your company needs real digital marketing strategies to achieve and maintain a successful online position, talk to us!