4 Reasons Not to Delete Blog Posts (and 3 Reasons You Should)
From the very first, let me say, of course you can delete any blog post you want from your website. It’s your website!
But before you do, I just want you to think about why you’re doing it. Based on your business and content goals, it’s not always a good idea. In the interest of fairness, I’m going to give you reasons why you probably shouldn’t delete your blog posts and then a few reasons why you may need to.
Let’s start with the reasons to keep that old content.
Bad Links and 404 Errors
When you delete blog content or a page from your website, you’ve just created an error wherever someone else linked to your content. Maybe someone shared your post on their social media or they included a link in one of their blog posts. Any blogging meme you joined and shared that story to will now have a bad link. (Note: I’ve been updating Masturbation Monday and half the links from the early days are gone because of closed down websites and deleted blog posts on active websites. And those MM posts still get views and clicks, even three years later.)
While this might not mean much to the person who linked to you, it definitely hurts you. A reader finds your link, clicks on it, and gets the 404 error message that the post can’t be found. Yes, they could read something else, but they aren’t going to. They didn’t land on your blog because of you — only because someone they trusted sent them there with the promise of interesting content.
The potential you had for gaining a new reader or follower with that link is now gone.
Search Engine Traffic
The more content you have on your website, the higher you can (potentially) rank in search engines. Google, especially, doesn’t just want to see that you’re adding fresh content. It wants to have old content to crawl through and index. When you diminish your own archive by mass deleting blog posts, you reduce the power of that archive.
Now you’ve got to spend the time going forward creating new content to build it back up. To be clear, creating new content is probably the best way to help your search engine traffic. But that old content doesn’t hurt, either. You might not realize it, but your archive works for you every single day.
Fewer Opportunities for Connection
Sometimes we delete content because we think it sucks or we’re embarrassed about the stories we published. Every single piece of content is another chance to connect with someone. No one is as critical of your writing as you are. (And if they are, they’re probably a total ass, and you don’t need that kind of negativity in your life.) Tell a compelling enough story, and most people don’t care if your grammar or spelling are a bit off.
But when you wipe out content, never to be seen again, you lose that chance to make a connection. And there’s no way to predict what blog post will get touch people the most or get the most attention. I have blog posts from 2014 and 2015 that still get more views than anything else I’ve written since. If I’d deleted them in 2016, those readers (who are sharing my content, by the way) might never have found me.
It’s Your History
Ultimately, my sensibility about old content is that it represents your history as a sex blogger or a company. That’s who you were then, even if it’s not who you are now. Unless you’re dealing with legal issues or some danger, that history should live on. It’s a valid part of who you are.
- No, you wouldn’t approach a topic like that now. Which means it’s time to write something new using that post as the inspiration.
- You’re a better writer now. This can be your proof to other would-be writers that you don’t have to be perfect to start a blog.
- These are your memories. Even the painful ones can serve as reminders, lessons, and act almost like a scrapbook of your life.
Reasons to Delete Content
While I think deleting content isn’t something you should do a lot of, I have deleted posts from my websites in the past and will likely do so again. So yes, there are perfectly valid reasons to do it. Here are a few.
Avoiding Duplicate Content
Did you submit a blog post to a publication? They might have a rule about not publishing duplicate content. Maybe you built a brand new website for an idea, called it Loving BDSM, and moved all your podcast episodes over. Okay, that was me. But to avoid confusing links and duplicate content, once it was moved, I deleted all the episode posts (but not the blog posts which were different) from their original location. Why does this matter? Because duplicate content can impact your search rankings which can kill your stats.
Legal and Privacy Issues
Maybe someone found your blog, realized it was you, and is now threatening you. You may have to delete the whole blog or just the offending posts to protect yourself. It’s possible you wrote about someone who objected and you decided, as a result, it was better to delete the post. You need to do whatever you believe is necessary to protect yourself and others, even if that means deleting old content.
New Topic or Direction
When you first started your blog, maybe it was about your sex life, but now you want to write about quilting. If you don’t want those two worlds to collide, I can see why you would delete the old posts. Of course, in my opinion, it would be better to start a new website completely, but that’s a discussion for another day.
There is no single right way to run your blog. Sometimes deleting content is the best option, but most times it may not be. If you really don’t want content to be on your site, set it to draft instead. You may decide to go back and edit it or you might change your mind later. Making it a draft still creates the same problems as deleting it, but it’s not a permanent problem, and the content isn’t lost forever.
So now I’m curious. If you’ve deleted lots of content in the past, feel free to share your reasons in the comments below or talk to me on Twitter.