Promotions expire, products go out of season or out of production, and landing pages to various special events are no longer relevant. So, what happens to them and to their content? Letting them be is not an option. When people note obsolete content on a website, their natural reaction is to think that the site is abandoned. This is not something you want to happen.
But deleting the obsolete content (hence the web pages) altogether is not an answer, either, especially if they performed well. Some of them have cyclical relevance – such as seasonal items, articles, etc. Others may be related to current content, as a natural evolution of product ranges, topics in your blog, and so on.
Basically there are four ways in which you can deal with these obsolete portions of your website.
- Create a 404 – Page Not Found
Many companies choose to “break” an obsolete page from the sitemap structure, so that when people land on it they realise the content is no longer in existence. 404 pages usually contain links inviting people to explore other sections of the website.
Some website even use 404 pages to attract more subscribers with a short signup form, especially when they landed on the page of an expired promotion (they can opt to receive the newsletter and find out in time about the new promotion).
However, you should not overdo this, because too many 404 messages will be interpreted by Google spiders as an actual widespread problem in the structure of your website. Thus, your website will be penalised and rank lower.
- 302 – Permanent Redirect
This code will tell the browser to redirect the viewer from the page with obsolete content to another page in your website. This makes sense in the case of discontinued products, replaced by newer ranges.
When you perform a permanent redirect, you must be careful where you direct people. The lazy option is to send them to your home page – but not everyone likes having to start searching a website for the type of content they were looking for. And Google doesn’t like it, either. When planning the 302 permanent redirect, always consider what the viewer wants to achieve by accessing that page, and send them to a page as similar in content and intent as possible.
- Paste New Content Over Obsolete Ones
This solution works best if you have a high ranking page and it becomes relevant every now and then (for instance, if your company hosts an annual event). In this way, you can maintain the high ranking page without making it look obsolete.
Many companies archive older content of such pages and post links offering their readers the chance to browse past events.
The only downside of this solution is that it works best only if your website is hosted on a powerful server, with lots of storage space and bandwidth. On shared hosting servers errors may occur if you keep replacing the content of a specific page.
- NoIndex or NoFollow Meta Tag for Seasonal Product Pages
Right now swimsuits are in demand. Four months from now, ski and warm clothes will be top-selling products. It does not make sense, however, to disable your customers’ access to out-of-season products. You never know who goes skiing on artificial snow and who goes to the tropics in the winter.
However, you do not want your out-of-season products to compete with current promotions in Google ranks. There is a simple workaround for this issue: add a noindex or nofollow tag to each specific web page. New visitors will not find the respective page among Google search results, but they can browse the products once they have landed on your website.
Last, but not least, if you really have no use for certain pieces of content (especially large audio/video files) delete them altogether from the website. They take up lots of valuable space and will slow down your website.