Are You Leading Visitors Astray? The Dangers of Letting Your Content Rot

Tadeusz Szewczyk
by Tadeusz Szewczyk | Last Updated Apr. 15th, 2015 1 COMMENTS

rotten-content

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Trillions of web pages out there are full of outdated advice, broken links or worse links to rogue sites.

Publishers usually focus on churning out fresh content because that’s what content marketers preach.

At the same time old content is hurting your overall credibility on the Web, when it comes to readers and Google.

DJ Content Con and The Fresh Prince

As a blogger who has been publishing for several years in a row I increasingly worry about the things I have written in the past. On my own blog I’m able to fix or delete the posts in question but even there I sometimes overlook outdated posts. The content marketing wave of recent years has been seemingly about quantity. The more the better.

Creating fresh content has been the epitome of doing the right thing.

After all even Google seemed to favor articles that were published recently and even showed their dates on search results. Yes, Google’s Panda updates were about stopping mass produced low level content but also about downgrading sites full of obsolete content in various stages of decay.

There’s something rotten in the state of content

When your existing assets already stink putting fresh content along them doesn’t make sense. Visitors who venture deeper into your publication by following some internal links may quickly wind up in the gutter. It’s not just small-time bloggers like myself.

Large corporate owned blog empires are among the worst offenders. Just think of Mashable, the perhaps still most popular social media blog, it’s full of rotten content that is truly misleading by now. It’s coverage of Google Buzz is exemplary:

mashable-google-buzz

In this screen shot you can still see the date so that you may ask yourself whether the article is still valid when you find it. I resized it though so that I can capture a better image. In reality the date is displayed in light grey and small type at the left below the author photo so that you are likely to overlook it unless you actually look hard for it.

Mashable is too big to fail, is your blog big enough?

Reading the Mashable article doesn’t give you a clue about the current state of affairs. Neither Google Buzz nor Seesmic still exist and Tweetdeck has been bought by Twitter long ago so that it won’t support competing Google services in the near future. Many of the links in the article are dead but the link to Google is still leading to an equally outdated announcement post.

Unless you are Web professional dealing with social media on a daily basis you will have difficulties to find out that the article is completely wrong by now. It’s simply not true anymore. I know what you think.

Mashable is too big to fail by now. They don’t have to care.

You are probably not as large as Mashable though. Also Mashable is just a publication while your blog is probably part of your business or reflects on your personal authority.

Let’s say someone assumes you’re a social media expert, then reads about Google Buzz on your site and then tries to sign up for it just to realize s/he has been tricked? Think about your parents, potential employer and generally people who aren’t spending the whole day online. What kind of impression of your level of expertise will they get from such an outdated article?

Do you need advice on Google Buzz SEO?

Outdated articles often rank well in search results. Here are some of the top results on DuckDuckGo. Please note how all the authority publications make you believe that Google Buzz still exists.

google-buzz-resuls

Google itself is a bit better at the telling the truth about the whereabouts of it’s deceased Buzz service but even here factual and outdated results mix in the top 10. As fickle as modern Web users are the likelihood of overlooking the “was” is still high. Only one article clearly marks Buzz as “dead” right in the title where you can spot it with ease.

google-buzz-results-2

What about Google Buzz and SEO? When we search for advice on it [google buzz seo] we find this page on #1:

google-buzz-seo-impact

Ironically at the bottom of the article the author states:

“As an SEO expert at Fluency Media, I look to stay on top of the latest search engine algorithm changes for our clients, and these recent developments by Google intrigue me.”

There is no date that clarifies that the article is several years old. The only date we can see is “February 9th”. It appears to be of this year. there is no way to comment on that page so nobody can clarify publicly.

The Google Buzz ghost is haunting me

Why did I choose to the Google Buzz example? Isn’t that a bit far off? No. When I search for [google buzz seo] as mentioned above I find myself twice in the top 10 explaining the virtues of Google Buzz SEO to unsuspecting visitors. Why?

An agency I have worked for 4 years ago is careless enough not to update or rather delete these articles. They are meaningless at best by now. Why keep them? To get more search traffic and mislead people? No, that’s probably sheer recklessness or lack of funds.

The Web evolves fast. When you let your old advice online for years you are actively misleading people after a while.

It is your responsibility as a publisher to keep track of changes and to fix your content. When you don’t that “strategy” will backfire by damaging your overall credibility. You will ultimately lose trust and authority. Google may penalize you with it’s low quality content algorithms (Panda) even faster.

Content maintenance is a must. In case you don’t have a budget for that you at least need to provide a disclaimer above all your old content saying something like “this page hasn’t been updated for 2+ years old and the content on it may be outdated.

 

  • I have an article on AdWords that I kept going back to about once a month, adding a few images, or correcting grammar, or deleting a redundant paragraph….

    It gets more visitors than any other article.

    Not only do I agree with the point you make, I also think frequent updates are a ranking factor.

    Stale content can be bad. I think Google recognizes that and rewards content that’s updated frequently.