Can removing old content help your SEO?

Jim Stewart /

I want to talk about content, specifically old content. I received a question recently about removing older content and whether it was beneficial or not for SEO. The one thing you have to keep in mind is they were talking about news content. I’ve heard it said you shouldn’t delete old content, and until recently I believed that. But now my viewpoint is it totally depends on the type of site you’re talking about.

If you have a news site, people will always look through past pages for research information, so taking down those older pages will reduce the number of clicks you have on your site. And that means a lower ranking. For retail sites, though, I’m convinced getting rid of some of the older stuff is the right thing to do depending on a number of conditions.

If you’re a retailer with a lot of informational content above the fold, that’s going to be a quality issue for the user. You want your products to be the first thing they see, not blocks of descriptive paragraphs.

If you display descriptive content above the fold, what I recommend is to try and experiment with these pages. I did it with one client by taking away just some of the content, which brought the products up a little bit. The site went up three or four places on the page, which was significant because of the competition. We then removed more content, which moved the products up further, and they moved up even higher in the rankings.

So it definitely means you have to look at your type of site. Is there a reason for keeping these old pages around? Focus on making sure the main content on each page gives your users the best experience you can.

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Jim Stewart

Jim Stewart is a leading expert in search engine optimisation. His business StewArt Media has worked with clients including Mars, M2 and the City of Melbourne.