Marketing Resources

What to do With Outdated Content

4 minutes

Carrie Tennick, senior digital content specialist, August 02, 2021

The legal industry and the wider world are always changing. That means that something you created for your site last year or the year before may no longer have the same degree of relevance.

When a piece of content – whether it’s a blog, video or infographic – reaches the end of its useful lifespan, it becomes outdated.

At this point, you need to make a decision about what to do with it. You have a few options.

When to redirect

There are going to be certain pieces that will remain evergreen – provided they are updated to reflect global developments. This could be something focused on the differences between marriage and civil partnership, for example.

For every piece like that, you’ll have something that will reach a natural end to its usefulness thanks to external forces. This could be a piece explaining the Stamp Duty holiday. Although the holiday will be phased out gradually – meaning there are updates to be made – the piece will eventually lose relevance when the holiday comes to a complete end.

Although your first thought might be to just remove or unpublish the piece, there are certain things to consider before you do. For example, does the page have any external backlinks pointing to it? Are these links valuable?

If removing the page is the right thing for your site, redirecting it will pass valuable link equity to the redirected page. This means you won’t lose out on the benefits of your strong backlinks. We’ll delve into the significance of backlinks in an upcoming guide, so watch this space.

When to remove

There will be pages that aren’t offering much value to your site. They don’t attract the visitor numbers you’d like, they don’t have any backlinks and they don’t have strong conversion rates. They may have been useful at one stage, but their analytics now show that they’re not contributing to the bottom line.

You may also have pages for services that you no longer offer or pages that are now redundant. In many cases, removing them from your site altogether can be the best option.

There are several advantages to reducing the number of pages present on your site. This includes keeping your site structure manageable, making it easy for visitors to find the information they need and maintaining site quality by ensuring only the valuable content remains. This could then have the resulting benefit of helping your rankings on search engines.

But before you remove a page, make sure you check if you need to redirect it.

When to update

If you have a piece of content that isn’t performing as well as it once did, the answer could be to update it. This works best if the piece is still topically relevant, has useful backlinks pointing to it and used to bring in a decent amount of traffic.

You could carry out a site audit, using a tool like Screaming Frog, to find under-performing content. You could alternatively look at your analytics data tot find pages that used to perform well but have dipped recently.

Carry out a fresh bout of keyword research for these pages. Look into the reasons for the drop in performance. Has there been a change in external circumstances – like the Civil Liability Act 2018 – or new statistics that you need to reflect? Or does the meta data (the title and description you see on search engine results) need updating to improve click-through rate?

If you want to improve conversions on a page, you might want to take a look at refreshing the content. Look at analytics data to see how visitors interact with your pages and try to implement actions that have led to good conversion rates on other pages.

When to consolidate

Do you have two or more pages that are essentially saying the same thing? Consolidating them into one page could be the best action to take. This trims your site down and can let you focus your energy on promoting one solid, valuable page rather than splitting your attention between multiples.

Look at which pages rank for which keywords. If there are more than one that appear for the same keywords and aren’t offering individual value, merging them into one can result in a more comprehensive and helpful page for visitors. And the more useful a page, the better your chances of ranking highly for it.

Merging multiple pages – and redirecting the removed URLs – will also mean any link equity is directed towards the new page. This will help its ranking position. You’ll also prevent keyword cannibalisation – which happens when you have multiple pages ranking for one keyword.

This will let search engines rank that page higher than they might have when there were other pages competing with it.

What to do

Regular site updates and page removals are good practice for website maintenance. There’s no need to continue to keep old, outdated pages published if they do nothing for your firm’s bottom line.

But it’s important to identify the right actions to take. You don’t want to lose the benefit of backlinks or content that still has life in it by unpublishing.

Your site’s data will give you the information you need to base a decision on. Consulting your numbers will show you what you need to do.

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