Deleting Blog Posts: Revisiting the Issue

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on December 4, 2012 in Blog Posts
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In the past, we've talked about the issue of deleting blog posts and why you shouldn't do it. Yet I've been doing a lot of that over the past couple of weeks. In light of that, I'd like to revisit the issue.

My Stance on Deleting Blog Posts

My general feelings on deleting blog posts haven't changed. There are good reasons to leave old posts up. For example, I don't believe it's ever appropriate to delete a blog post because you want to hide something you've said in the past or you want to hide an old opinion you've shared because it's changed.

At most I find it's best to add a notice to the top of those posts stating that your opinion has changed and why, or linking it to a fresher post on the topic. That's certainly better than being dishonest with readers.

On the other hand, there are some times when it makes sense to delete blog posts -- usually for reasons tied to basic blog maintenance. For example, your database might be getting out of control so you might delete past revision copies of posts. Or you might remove old link-based posts if the majority of the links are now dead. That last example is why we're deleting hundreds of posts here at All Freelance Writing.

Why I'm Deleting Blog Posts at All Freelance Writing

I'm in the midst of a blog content audit for this site. That involves a lot of updates and maintenance work such as:

  • changing our permalinks to be more search engine friendly (and much shorter);
  • adding meta data to older posts for SEO;
  • fixing formatting issues on old posts that resulted from changing themes over the years;
  • editing old posts to clean them up a bit;
  • updating some old posts to keep them relevant or make them "new again;"
  • deleting old posts that no longer have any relevance.

This blog is different than most in that we had a lot of link-based posts over the years. Namely, we used to share lists of freelance writing jobs and writer's markets.


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Those posts are largely being removed. That's because all of those old job links are now dead. They add no value to readers anymore. They just take up space in the archives and database. And the old market listings only had two or three links each, and those have since been added to our writer's market directory. They weren't adding value either -- they were just shallow and duplicate content.

Back when this site was still SixFigureWriters.com, we had a very different posting style. For instance, we had many one-paragraph posts -- very quick updates about site and design changes that aren't relevant anymore or quick tips that have since been turned into larger articles (or some I plan to turn into larger articles later).

Those kinds of posts are also being removed because the low-content pages can actually hurt your site in rankings. Plus, they don't offer much in the way of value to readers. I'd rather see them expanded into something more appropriate for the site in its current state.

Because of all of these old posts (largely in the 2006 - 2009 range), we have far more post deletions than I expected. It's amazing how those things can accumulate. On the plus side, when you find posts like these in a content audit, they can help you make better decisions about your blog moving forward. For example, in my case:

  • it lets me know I made the right decision to stop the job listings here;
  • it reminds me to keep site updates that will quickly become irrelevant to a minimum;
  • it serves as a reminder to check the archives more frequently because it's a huge undertaking to clean these things up for years of archives all at once;
  • it emphasizes the importance of keeping a consistent style from one post to the next and making sure old posts reflect any later design changes.

When was the last time you really dug into your blog archives? Is shallow content in old posts holding your blog back? Are dead links leaving readers stranded? Remember, not everyone comes through your homepage or feed of your latest posts. Many visitors come through search engines and land directly on posts in your archives -- posts you may not have looked at in years. Are your archives in need of a refresh?

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Jennifer Mattern is a professional blogger, freelance business writer, and indie author. She began writing for clients in 1999 and started her first blog in 2004.

She owns 3 Beat Media - a publishing and client services company which operates All Indie Writers as well as several other websites and blogs including The Busy Author's Guide and BizAmmo. Jenn comes from a background in online PR and social media consulting, having owned a small PR firm for several years before choosing to pursue a full-time writing and publishing career.

Jenn also writes fiction under multiple pen names in the areas of children's fiction, mysteries, and horror fiction. Jenn is an active member of the Horror Writers Association (HWA) and currently serves as the organization's Assistant Coordinator of Promotions and Social Media.


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4 Comments

  1. Kimberly December 4, 2012 Reply

    Another timely topic and I feel you, Jenn. I’m in the process of re-categorizing one of my blogs (drastically reducing number of categories and re-assigning old posts from 2010 to new categories) and it’s a huge job!

    I look at it like this: it’s not unusual for a blog’s focus and a blogger’s objective to change. I can see an argument for keeping the old posts as a way of showing the evolution process. I also see things from your point of view – you want to maximize SEO for the site and you plan to ‘”repurpose” many of the older posts. I like that you openly discuss the motive and strategy behind these anticipated changes because the information could definitely benefit someone else.
    Kimberly recently posted…3 Answers to Curious Questions About How to Become a Freelance WriterMy Profile

    • Jennifer Mattern December 4, 2012 Reply

      Right before the post-by-post audit I changed the categories here too. It was for the exact reason you mentioned — objectives change. I felt like things got a bit disorganized after several changes in content strategies here, and it was time for a clean-up.

      In the case of the types of posts we’re deleting, they really don’t show anything about the evolution of the blog as a whole. And there’s still plenty of content from that time period that has value. So I don’t think readers are going to miss out on anything in that sense. SEO is really secondary to reader experience. I didn’t like the sheer quantity of content in the archives that did absolutely nothing for readers anymore. That and they were slowing the site down. I’m running speed tests every time I scale back, and the site’s gotten measurably faster (and I hope even moreso in coming weeks). It you have a few hundred posts, it doesn’t hurt anything to leave them there. When you get into thousands of posts, you can start to see a difference (and that’s with more than adequate server resources dedicated to the site). These are just the kinds of things we don’t always think about when we first launch a blog. But thankfully we learn more as we go. :)

  2. Amandah December 5, 2012 Reply

    I recently deleted tags and categories from Savvy-Writer. I’ve deleted blog posts from time-to-time.

    When I first started Savvy-Writer.com in 2008, I was writing blog posts for writers. But that all changed when my blog started to attract freelance writing clients. I shifted my blog’s focus from writers to clients. However, writers still read and comment on my blog posts, but I also direct them to Savvy Writing Careers, my website for writers.

    I probably need to go back and delete some posts from another blog of mine, which began as a place for me to write about my move to Arizona and everything that went with it. The focus is personal development, although some of my older posts tie into the theme.

    I think I have another project… cleaning and tightening up my blogs. Hopefully, I can get started before 2012 ends. :)
    Amandah recently posted…What’s More Important SEO and Web Traffic or Fans and ReadersMy Profile

    • Jennifer Mattern December 5, 2012 Reply

      I had a similar issue on another blog. It was a PR blog directed toward small business owners. But it attracted mostly PR professionals and social media professionals. So the entire nature of the blog changed. I’ve since rebranded the blog and let it go dormant. I keep toying with the idea of reviving the original brand and going back to blogging for small business owners, but I know the same thing would happen again b/c the brand is already well known enough in the niche that colleagues would be the more likely visitors. It’s frustrating, but sometimes our blogs take on lives of their own. :)

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