Sunday, January 9, 2011

Stuck with an Old Webpage? Don't Hit "Delete" Just Yet!

As good B-to-B web marketers, we've all been there before: One of your business units, locations, brands comes to you with a request: "Hey, we stopped making right-handed widgets.... now we make left-handed widgets. Please make a new webpage for left-hand widgets and delete the old page for right-hand widgets - - the old page is no good anymore !"

Before you kill the old page and build a new replacement page, consider your options and consequences! 

Killing a webpage without proper thought and evaluation can cause self-inflicted damage with search engine optimization and lead generation. Salvaging an old webpage and putting it to new use can help bring in more business. The situation with worthy old webpages is not unlike keeping a valuable older building and renovating it for new uses... this can be far more profitable than simply knocking it down and being stuck with an empty lot full of weeds.

Over the years, I have enjoyed consistent, often exceptional, SEO and lead generation success from keeping, transforming and focusing select old webpages to new tasks, with many of the pages ranking in the top 5 organic search results for key search terms, against tens of millions of other indexed webpages.

That old 'obsolete' page can be transformed into a formidable niche or lower-level webpage - - targeting a very concise precise service, feature, topic. If linked to a bigger cluster of related business pages, you may be able to transform that old webpage into a new search engine 'category killer' for some valuable long-tail search terms - - a great quality lead generation win.

To Be or Not to Be: Points to consider when looking at an old webpage's future:

1. Can the old webpage still sit in your service/product offerings? Can it still fill a supporting role, or valuable niche of some sort, with proper modification? Is the URL for the old page a relatively neutral factor in terms of name and structure? If yes, then the page is a candidate for salvage and renewal.

2. How does the old webpage perform in Google and other search engines for organic search? If the page is achieving high search rankings, it is absolutely a serious candidate for salvage and renewal... or intelligent redirecting.

3. If, on the other hand, the old webpage cannot obviously fill a supporting or new role on your website, or search rankings are poor, then the page is a candidate for redirect to a new page, with a lower risk of lead generation damage.

4. But never just simply kill or delete a old webpage. This will cause broken links, not good for visitors and search engines. Instead, 301 redirect the old page to the new webpage you want to replace it. The old page may rank on Google for awhile, but the redirected link will take visitors to the new page so potential customers don't drop out due to a bad link. Redirects preserve visitor 'favorites' so they can find you again, and allows visitors to navigate to the new webpage from the old page listed on search engine results, a temporary but important period of time. Properly 301'ing helps impart any SEO success the old page had onto the new page, for a while. Eventually, over time, the new page must achieve organic search engine ranking on its own.

5. Housekeeping is important when redirecting to a new webpage. Internal links to the old webpage on your website should be changed to point to the new replacement webpage. Paid Search campaigns should be updated as well.

Every public webpage on your website has history, search engine rankings, 'favorites' followers, and internal navigation linkage. So before simply deleting and redirecting an old webpage, take some time to review the page, where and how it sits in your offerings, what function is it performing, and what potential uses that page has for the future. Perhaps with some modification and optimization, that old webpage can become renewed, working as a formidable niche asset for your SEO and lead generation efforts.