What to do with WordPress Old Posts

May 5, 2022 / Rockstar Blogging, WordPress / By Kathy Alice

I have a guilty confession to make, when I first created this blog over a decade ago, I was just interested in creating a site that was monetized with affiliate links. I signed up for a auto-blogging service targeting keywords such as internet marketing. These services then auto publish to your blog, the content usually has links placed by the author to their service or are affiliate links.

It was an eye-opener on what passes for decent writing. Fortunately I had moderated it so I had final publishing approval. Which was a smart decision, because most of it was awful. At best they were that general sort of forgettable writing that imparts no real value or knowledge. Many had obvious misspellings and were just thinly veiled attempts to get people to click on the links. I rejected many and there are not many that actually got published.

After reviewing these posts for a while, I thought to myself, “I can do a better job writing than this”, and that is how my blogging career was born.

Content Quality is essential for SEO

Since then the quality of your content has gotten even more important for ranking well in the Google SERPs. Even though we now have tools like generative AI at our disposal, it is essential that your content is helpful and useful and not just written for SEO.

Google recently released a new type of Algorithm Update called “Helpful Content Updates” which likely is aimed to weed out some AI generated content and certainly made for SEO content. If you are wondering what Google considers “Helpful Content” reviewing their comments on writing for “People First” is recommended.

So we all know that we need to publish useful and valuable content for people first and SEO second. What do we do about those old posts we have written many years ago that may not be up to our now enhanced quality standards?

When Panda (the first Panda was in 2011) rolled out, I saw how many sites (especially article directories) were decimated by it. So it was a wake up call to me that I really should do something about those old posts. I. Although I was not impacted by Panda, clearly it was a signal that these lower quality posts should go.

Since then I’ve “pruned this site” several times, ditching old content that no longer was of value, either because it was out of date or not getting traffic.

Pruning your site with a Content Audit

Once you publish a post and it is indexed by Google and the other search engines, you don’t want to just delete it without some consideration.  While it’s perfectly Ok to delete a post (404) that gets no traffic and has no backlinks, in some cases a 301 redirect or a rewrite is a better strategy.

If a post is getting traffic and has backlinks to it, I would recommend against deleting them. When a page is returning a 404 (Not Found error), any link equity that was passing to it is lost. In this case you should 301 redirect to a similar post, or improve the post.

With certain posts, I’ve had good results by rewriting and adding to them. Especially if the post is getting some traction (ie. you see impressions for it in Google Search Console), you can capitalize on the fact that it is already getting some notice by making it better and then ranking more highly and for more keywords.

After you rewrite a post, you can give it a boost by changing the WordPress publish date to today, effectively re-ordering it in the post list so it now appears on the home page. When I first did this, I didn’t know it would work .. but it did quite nicely, I just chose a date and time that was a half hour earlier than the present.

What is a Content Audit?

This sometimes overlooked SEO strategy, that is performing a content audit, can be very powerful and I’ve seen it really move the needle for some sites. It may be counterintuitive, that you can rank better with less pages, but if done right, it works great.

After doing many content audits, I captured the steps in an online course. In this 2 hour course I cover:

  1. Why a content audit can improve your site’s organic traffic
  2. How to identify your best performing pages
  3. How to use filters in Excel to zero in pages you want to delete, redirect or improve
  4. Tips for improving your underperforming pages

Readers of my blog get a discount: How to Conduct a Content Audit for SEO

About the Author Kathy Alice

Kathy Alice Brown is a SEO expert specializing in Technical SEO and Content. In her spare time she loves to get outside.

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  1. Hi Kathy,
    I have a question for my website I write a post for all my upcoming events, what do you suggest I do once the event date is passed? Your right I don’t want to delete them because I will have a bunch of 404 errors. Is there a plugin that can archive all my old posts?

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