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.
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?