The web is all about the latest, whether it's games, apps, movies, or devices. However, older content definitely has a place in your web content strategy.
If a site has been around for a long time and has been consistently updated, search engines will rank it higher than sites with ancient, un-updated content or even brand new sites. Old content benefits your website similarly to the way that credit account you've maintained for 15 years benefits your credit rating: By showing you're in it for the long haul. However, that doesn't mean you should leave old content gathering dust in the recesses of the web. You can make it work for you today. Here's how.
Your Site's "Greatest Hits"
If you have maintained a blog for years, chances are there is a post that continues to draw hits even though you wrote it long ago. In fact, there may be a handful of pages on your site that continue to bring in traffic consistently. You can make this content more accessible by including a "Popular Pages" or "Greatest Hits" sidebar on your homepage or blog, so that more people can find it readily.
Updating Old Content and Using Comparisons
Sometimes seeing where you've been provides a great contrast to where you're going. Did you write a "Best Trade Sites of 2010" blog post? Why not write a "Best Trade Sites of 2013" post and link to the old one? It's both informative and entertaining to compare where things are now to where they were a few years ago. You can even have a little fun with it. For example, you could write a light-hearted post titled something like, "Look at This Keyword-Stuffed Software Review We Did in 2009!"
Enhancing Old Content with Updated Content
Have new articles link to old content for supplementary information. This doesn't take much time and can introduce older content to new visitors. Likewise, you can add links in old pages to newer pages. If old content has obsolete information, clean it up. You don't want a potential new client finding a phone number that's out of commission.
Dealing with Old Seasonal Content Appropriately
If you are in a seasonal trade and plan to update content every year, don't use URLs that include the date. You don't want a savvy visitor thinking he's seeing content for 2013 and then leaving in a huff when he reads the URL and discovers it was written in 2007. One thing you can do is provide visitors with a bit of nostalgia with links. For example, if you're in a sector with a strong Christmas focus, you could include in your latest Christmas blog a link to past articles.
Wholesale Deletion of Old Content Can Cause Problems
If your content management system allows custom variables, you could create a "dated" variable for old content. Dated pages could have text added notifying the reader that the content is historical and there may be newer versions available. Adding relevant links to the newer content is helpful too. The risk with deleting old content is that some of your website rankings could be dependent on that content. There may be other websites that link to it, further boosting your site's authority. Getting rid of old content is like cutting off your site's "long tail.
Frequently Updated Features Can Bring New Life to Old Content
Suppose a visitor happens upon a page about the latest marketing trends in your sector for 2006. He may not be interested enough to read it, but if the page has links to current information, or unrelated but interesting features, he may stick around. Recruitment advertising solutions like job boards are also great for resuscitating old content. It doesn't matter whether a visitor is on your latest blog post or an old page; if she sees a link to a relevant job board, she may choose to have a look at current available positions.
No matter what kind of site you run, always look for ways to breathe new life into older content. Often, it's all in how you package it.
Photo Credits: Cohdra