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Mar 30

Deleting or Refreshing Older Blog Posts

After talking with @BlazingMinds and @Ileane on Twitter yesterday about how to handle very old blog posts that get no traffic, I realized it had been ages since I pruned my own blogs from what I call "void posts" these are blackhole posts that may as well not exist, they get 0 traffic, don’t even show up on Google Analytics and have no purpose existing anymore, especially if they don’t have relevant information.

Do old posts hurt your blog?

I don’t really know the answer, as many online magazines have posts years and years old that are still indexed and visible on Google.  Some say that having old posts with 0 traffic may hurt your blog rankings, because Google detects posts in the sitemap and there are no visits/hits to those posts so may devalue rank overall but I am not so certain.  I just think posts without traffic may not be regarded well for rank.

Either way there should be a spring cleaning of old blog posts if you will, clean out the useless posts that have no business existing 2-3 years later.  So this little guide will help you figure out which posts to prune from your blog.  Note, this is completely optional, if you want to keep them there forever, it is up to you I don’t have any evidence that it harms your site.

What blog posts to trim?

  • Old Holiday Posts

Having Merry Christmas 2009 post in 2013 isn’t going to really do much good, unless you are a diary blog where you are sharing an event that happened in your life that people can read about your history, chances are these posts may not get any traffic and be useless.  This is one reason I do very few holiday specific posts on my non-personal blog over the past few years was the fact that my 2008, 2009 holiday posts pretty much became void posts in a few months.

  • Outdate News Stories

Posts about current events, trends that happened and were short lived are likely to die off the map fast.  How many people are still going to search for the Susan Boyle who came out of nowhere, or the Season 1 Finale of Lost.  These posts tend to age poorly and in some rare cases they may be relevant for archival info, but in most cases the age and become void posts.

  • Outdated Technical Info

Posting about WordPress 2.2 doesn’t really do much when 3 years later we are on version 3.5 and nearly no features of 2.2 are the same way when it comes to accessing them.  These posts can either be deleted or updated and refreshed with new content and versioning to rejuvenate them and keep the same URI.  Except if you have comments for the old data, may need to purge them.

  • Giveaways and Contests

These can sometimes draw traffic, but once they run their course past a year or so they may not provide any value anymore except as an archive.  In fact I had people try to join a closed giveaway months after it closed one time, but since it still brought in traffic I kept it up.  I also keep old giveaway posts to show that giveaways were actually held so this is one where it is subjective whether you want to clean them up after a year or two or just leave them.   If you choose to rejuvenate a giveaway post you have to flush all comments anyway.

In Summary

Some posts may be worth clearing out to make space or update to revitalize and perhaps bring in new life, but in general you can leave them too.  Always check the post against Google Analytics to make sure it hadn’t gotten any traffic in the past 60 or 90 days before clearing it, because if it had some traffic a month or  two ago it may make a comeback and just refresh it a bit.

  • http://www.facebook.com/funjobsforseniors Jennifer Cunningham

    I read that old posts hurt the blog. I ‘m looking forward to having that problem. Right now all of mine are new. Thanks for the update. I will bookmark this post.

    • http://www.dragonblogger.com Justin Germino

      Thanks, after having written more than 7,000+ posts over the past 4 years, I have TON that need clean up.

    • http://blazingminds.co.uk/ BlazingMinds

      One of the reasons I put a call out to my Twitter friends and thanks to @dragonblogger:disqus and @ileane:disqus for clearing a lot up.

  • http://tomjamieson.com/ Tom Jamieson

    I guess it really does depend on the post. I have a couple of posts that still bring traffic…I call them “timeless” posts because the topics still seem to be relevant.

    • http://www.dragonblogger.com Justin Germino

      Of course, timeless posts where the info is just as valid years later can stay around, if they get no traffic they still could use some freshening up and rejuvenation.

  • http://msileanespeaks.com/ Ileane

    Hi Justin,
    What are you doing to make sure you redirect or remove any internal links to those posts? I guess it doesn’t matter in the long run, but it would be nice if we could make sure the bots don’t visit.
    Thanks for the mention and enjoy the holiday!

    • http://www.dragonblogger.com Justin Germino

      Well, as I almost never link to holiday posts, and I am really bad about internal linking except to pages or from posts to homepage it isn’t as much as an issue. Once you remove a post, flush your sitemap and within hours Google will stop indexing and listing it. If it isn’t getting any traffic within last 60-90 days as I recommend you check, then it is pointless in wasting the time putting in a 404 redirect as it wasn’t getting any traffic to redirect to.

      I don’t think Broken Link Checker does internal to internal, just outbound links but I could be wrong. Web Master tools may be needed to weed out if any posts link to it.

      http://www.backlinkwatch.com/index.php does a good job of showing all inbound links to a page or post, so as an added precaution perhaps you could scan, but bottom line, if you are getting 0 pageviews for 90 days, the post is probably worthless even with links. If the post has a PR2 or higher, you may get value in just using it as redirection post to your homepage or another similar page.

      • http://blazingminds.co.uk/ BlazingMinds

        Hi Justin, glad to inspire your post ;) I think Broken Link Checker does check for broken links from your own blog, I’ve had a few pop up from my internal links ;)