Building a brand new website is great and something we do every day for clients, but beware of getting rid of all your old content as it will have an adverse effect on your search engine rankings.
Here’s an example:
I recently had a long-term client re-brand their nonprofit which included a new logo and a spanking new website. When we started it was a one-man show, which grew into a big organization with a Board of Directors and several employees.
The marketing company in charge of the project did a wonderful job from a look and feel standpoint. They built a nice WordPress theme, and I don’t have too many negative comments to say about the development work in general. I like to give credit where credit is due. And as I will be managing the site going forward, it’s always nice to start with quality work rather than having to go in and rebuild everything.
(you knew there was a but coming) the one mistake they made was to lose all the old content. Now we had worked hard to create quality content and had close to 1000 pages in Google’s index. They ditched all the old content and now the site is being penalized by Google as it went from 1000 page website down to a 15 page site. It is only common sense that a 15 page website no matter how nice is not as good from a search engine standpoint as having 1000 pages of quality content.
Listen, we work too hard to create quality content. So consider this when you’re building a new website. My recommendation is to bring over the old content, especially blog posts and news. Perhaps you have a link to these pages from within your site so that they’re still picked up by the Googlebot. On your new blog/news page, on the sidebar for example you can have a link to the older content. What I would do is put the old posts in a category all by themselves, call them archive, older news, whatever you feel like. So this way you will have your fresh new good-looking site but we’ll still have a link off to your older content which Google will be able to find as it is hyperlinked from an existing page. So, this may be the best of both worlds.
Exporting & Importing Your Website Content In WordPress
If your site is built in WordPress, exporting and importing those posts is a simple process. So, you can have the best of both worlds as we discussed above, a brand-new flashy website, and plenty of good quality content with the longevity that search engines like.
- In your WordPress site, select Tools > Import on the left nav of the admin screen.
- Under “WordPress,” if you haven’t already installed the importer, click “Install Now.”
- Click the “Run Importer” link.
- Click “Choose File” and navigate to the WXR file exported from your
- Click “Upload file and import.”
Search Engines Like Sites With Longevity.
Google rightfully gives credence to sites with longevity. Think of it in terms of a brick-and-mortar store. Say you had a business that had been established 50 years ago. Along comes a brand-new flashy store. Who would you think would have more credibility? I would say the company with 50 years of experience deserves just to have more cred than a new store. The new store still needs to prove themselves to their customers. Well, it is the same thing with websites; a brand-new site does not have the same credibility the site has been around for decades. (Hard to believe websites can have been around for decades, but now that the World Wide Web is over 30 years old you do have sites with a long history)
Is there a time to delete old content?
Yes. If you have content that over time has become incorrect, or irrelevant then it is fine to get rid of those particular posts. You don’t want to be giving out information that you know to be wrong. However, in some cases you may be better off updating that content to correct anything that was wrong in the original article. When I do that, I typically advise to add a paragraph at the top explaining the change. The other thing about that is that Google actually likes when you update content and will re-index those pages. In your Google Webmaster account you can actually request that the page gets really indexed when you have a change. This will actually speed up the process as opposed to waiting for the Googlebot to find and update the content from within their index.
Rebuilding your site is not a bad idea, after a few years they all start getting tired looking and new technology keeps on coming down the pike. When you are rebuilding that new site, don’t ditch all the hard work you put in to build a site that does well in searches due to your efforts to produce quality content which your visitors have enjoyed and which search engine have indexed.
Unfortunately, most people decide to build a website and then after the site launches they look to improve their search engine optimization (SEO). A better way to handle a new website project is to always be considering your search engine rankings. So as you’re building each page, consider what you’re looking to be found for. But, remember, don’t build your site just to do well in searches as the result will be a site that people may find you, but when they got there they will quickly leave, as the writing is so poor. Also, be sure not to align yourself with black hat SEO firms. You may have a temporary improvement in rankings but will ultimately be penalized by Google and may be removed from the index altogether.
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