Recently it came to my attention that folks were deleting old posts that were no longer necessary. For example: giveaways, cover reveals, read-a-thons etc. I know 404’s are ok and that a hard 404 is better..but what is the correct way to delete them? Should you unpublish them first or just delete away?
Who out there is deleting old posts??
I don’t delete any old posts
I never delete any of my old posts. I don’t think you need to. Why would you want to remove the content you worked so hard to write? Sure, a giveaway may no longer be relevant, but as long as it’s clear that the giveaway had ended, there’s no reason to delete the post. I think part of the fun of blogging is having a record of all your old content. I like being able to look back and see what giveaways I put on and what covers I revealed. I think it’s good for readers to see that too. If a reader really wants to follow a blog with a lot of giveaways, they can click on your “Giveaways” category and see how regularly you host them.
In terms of SEO, there’s only one real benefit to deleting old content and that’s if the content is blatantly incorrect or irrelevant. For example, if I published a guide on how to navigate WordPress that was written 5 years ago and no longer relevant to modern WordPress, then that information is blatantly incorrect and possibly misleading. The better option would be to update the post to correct it. But if I didn’t want to do that for some reason, then deleting it would be a possibility.
The best way to delete posts… if you must!
If you’re really set on deleting those old posts, then the best way to do it would be to delete the post, then redirect the URL for that post to somewhere else (like another relevant post or just the homepage). This avoids the user getting a 404 error, and instead they’re taken to a new page.
There is no difference between deleting vs “unpublishing” (making it a draft or private). Either way, the post becomes inaccessible and will lead to a 404 page.
How to set up a 301 redirect
The “manual” way is to edit your .htaccess file and add this line at the very top:
Redirect 301 OLDURL NEWURL
So an example might be:
Redirect 301 https://www.nosegraze.com/old-deleted-post https://www.nosegraze.com
So I would be redirecting “old-deleted-post” to the homepage.
Alternatively, you can install a plugin to help you out. I haven’t used it myself, but Simple 301 Redirects might be a good option.