Everything we know is subject to constant change. This is especially true for the internet. Groundbreaking content from a year ago is now outdated.
That’s why sooner or later every website owner spends time removing or revising outdated content.
But how do you do it correctly? The context of users and search engines like Google, poses some challenges here. So let’s clarify!
What Are the Options for Removing Outdated Content?
Deleting a post or page in the backend of the site is usually not the best way. During the time your post was online, it attracted visitors and earned a place in search results. If you delete it now, what happens?
Redirects are a more elegant way to replace older content with newer content. The same applies for the commands you can insert into the HTML code of your page.
Finally, there is the option of contacting Google directly. The search engine offers tools that allow you to easily remove outdated content from search results.
But let’s take it one step at a time…
Redirect a Page or Delete It Completely?
We’ve already specified that you shouldn’t completely delete content that regularly brings visitors to your site. By removing a page or post, the associated URL also disappears.
If someone then goes to that URL, they will land on a 404 Error page. Instead of the content the user was expecting, they get a white page with an error message.
Page no longer active?
User experiences of this kind are not nice and should be avoided. If this keeps happening, the search engine ranking of other content on your website will suffer as well.
Create a Redirect
An easy way to get around this is to create a redirect.
The most famous form of redirection is the 301 redirect. This way you can link an old URL to a new one. When a user calls the old URL, he will be automatically redirected to the linked page. No white screen and no error message.
You should make sure that the content of the new page is related to the old one. At least provide the user with a hint that this is new content or that a revision of old content has been completed.
Robots Meta Tag in HTML Code
If you don’t want Google to index your page in the search results, you can tell the algorithm that.
By adding a meta tag like this one in the header of the page you want to remove:
<meta name=”googlebot” content=”noindex” />
The Google crawler recognizes that this page should not be indexed. With the so-called x-Robots tag, you can set certain conditions that will be recognized by the algorithm. You can find detailed information about this in the Google Help Center under SEO for advanced users.
Removing Content From Search Results: Google Tools
When it comes to removing content from search results, you can also contact Google directly. This applies to your own content as well as to content of other people.
With the Search Engine Removal Tool and the Remove Outdated Content tool, Google has set up two tools that can be easily operated via Search Console.
To decide which tool is appropriate in your case, you must first ask yourself the question: Am I the content owner or not?
1st Tool: To Remove – Search Console Removal Tool
If the answer is yes, I am the owner of the website from which the content is to be removed, then the Search Console Removal Tool will help you.
With this tool, you are able to quickly and easily remove your own content from Google search results. Your page will still be crawled by the Google algorithm, but it will no longer be visible in the search results.
It is important to know that the blocking of the page lasts only for six months. If you are interested in the permanent removal of outdated content, you can find more information on Google’s Search Console Support.
2nd Tool: Remove Outdated Content
Just recently Google released an update for this tool. It’s suitable for you if you want to update content in search results of which you are not the owner. This usually concerns content that appears in the Google cache or in snippets. If the content of the underlying pages is no longer up-to-date, you can report this to Google.
This is less about removal and more about updating content. If you want to have content of strangers removed for other reasons, you can find your answers on the official webmaster page.
Deleting content should always be done with caution. Once a URL is accepted by users and Google as a source of knowledge, you should use this opportunity.
In most cases, we recommend updating outdated content rather than deleting it. Existing content can be adapted to new requirements through regular SEO analysis. At BlogTec, we have already helped our clients with this.
Finally, here are our 12 tips for content maintenance. They will give you an idea of how we work, and maybe you find some inspiration in it for yourself!