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HTTP 404 error message

What to do with outdated content?

A question I was recently asked: should you delete old blogs which are hardly being read anymore?

The answer to this depends on whether or not those old blogs or other content is still relevant. If the content is still relevant, but no longer up to date, you could choose to update it. That way you will hold on to your score in Google.

Delete, but not only the content

But when you really do not need this content anymore and it has no added value for your website, you could delete it. This content, from now on called a page, should not only be removed on your website, but you must also notify Google that this page no longer exists. This can be done via the so-called 410 http status code with which you inform Google that a page has been permanently and deliberately removed.

HTTP 404 error message
You want to prevent this screen from appearing

If you do not do this, there is a danger that this page will still appear in search results for a number of weeks. Without the 410 reference, visitors who click on the link in the search results will receive a 404 error (page no longer exists).

The so-called 410 content deleted redirect can be easily set up with Yoast Premium (the paid version), but there are also free plugins for it. Another, albeit less neat, solution is to change the text of your 404 error message and include a link to a page that does exist.


You should also pay attention to any links within your website that refer to the deleted content. You can set a so-called 301 redirect for those pages so that visitors end up on a related page. A useful tool to signal non-functioning links on your website is the free plugin Broken Link Checker.

Combining content

If you have a number of pages with similar and / or additional content then it may be an idea to combine these pages in one new pages and republish it. This will make the Google ranking higher. Do take into account the removal of those old pages and creating a redirect to the new page!

3 ways to deal with old content

You can do the following with outdated content

  • Delete completely – think about the 410 reference
  • Redirect outdated content to new content
  • Update and republish

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