Google Advises Caution on Content Removal as CNET Deletes Numerous Pages

Google suggests that erasing aged content solely due to its age doesn’t aid SEO. But, strategic content pruning can be advantageous. Gizmodo’s recent report on CNET alleged them of “gaming Google Search” by deleting multitudes of pages, a move common in advanced SEO strategies.

CNET’s Actions: Recent weeks saw the removal of “thousands of articles,” the exact count remains undisclosed by CNET. They made choices on page redirection, repurposing, or removal based on metrics like pageviews, backlink profiles, and the time since the last update.

CNET’s Perspective: An internal memo highlighted that their content removal strategy was meant to signal Google about CNET’s relevancy, freshness, and deservingness of a higher rank. This view is arguably misinformed, as quality, relevance, and a technically efficient website lead to greater organic visibility.

Taylor Canada from CNET shared with Gizmodo: “Old content removal is not taken lightly at CNET. Comprehensive analysis determines unneeded pages. Ideally, all content would remain, but the contemporary internet often penalizes for retaining all past publications.”

Contrary to CNET’s stance, Google’s focus isn’t on sites driven primarily by SEO. Their aim is to reward those producing content for users.

Google’s Danny Sullivan clarified: “Deleting content because it’s ‘old’ is not encouraged. Even aged content can be beneficial.”

Regarding outdated or broken links, Sullivan added: “Simply removing a page won’t drastically enhance the entire site’s reputation.”

Historically, Google once recommended the removal of content for better SEO, especially post the Panda update. This idea that “deleting old content improves SEO” probably stems from there. Yet, present-day standards differ. For a site like CNET, active for over two decades, old doesn’t necessarily equate to quality.

In discussions, Sullivan emphasized that Google never recommended deleting solely due to age. Others, like John Mueller and Gary Illyes, often advocate for content enhancement rather than deletion.

Conclusion: Strategically pruning content can benefit SEO. Thoughtlessly deleting old content may not be helpful, but refining and consolidating should be considered for SEO planning.

Lastly, Mueller commented on Mastodon: “Factors like age, traffic, and bounce rate can point to potentially unneeded content. But it’s crucial not to make decisions based solely on one factor. Old news articles have relevance, and wiping them off might not be the best move.”