Your old content may be your most valuable content

Old content

Products and content often has a date where the products are discontinued and content has been old and/or replaced. Your visitors that navigates on the site will not find those pages, but visitors that comes from external sites will still land on those pages. What could you do to not just have them bouncing from your site?

If you are working with your content in a good way where people like your content, you will have links pointing to your content. If some of those links come from relevant sites with a good reputation, those links will be important to you since they may help you climb the slippery SEO ladder on important keywords.

Old content may be a really good source for new visitors that did not visit you before.

E-commerce and products

For products in an e-commerce site, this is often solved by making the products still available to find by url, but visible in any content navigation trees or internal site search. This is good, since then the value of the product when it comes to value for your site may still not be affected in a negative way. When this product is discontinued, you have a couple of choices:

  • Deleting the product from the site, hiding it for the outside world with a simple 404 page not found.
  • Making the product inactive allowing it to be found by the URL leaving it just as it was before it was discontinued.
  • Still having the inactive product available by the URL, updating the content about the product being replaced by another product or if none is available, some pieces of inspiration for how to find similar products related to the interests of those that previously bought that product.

In an e-commerce system, there is not always a way of pointing out a new product that has replaced the old one, but here you can be creative. Use the cross-sell, up-sale or even accessories references to point the potential customer to a page where he or she can purchase something similar so that this is not just a dead end for them.

Content with references to products

Good content may have a lot of external links pointing to it. Content tend to be shared and linked to easier from other sites since it’s not just about one single product, it may be a text that explains how to solve a problem or a text about product reviews. What is common for this kind of content is that is often related to products that is no longer available for purchase by the visitors. Having information about products that the customer potentially could buy that are no longer buyable is an approach that is not optimal. Of course – the visitor could try to navigate or search your site to find related products or content, but there is a big risk of loosing them where they exit you site here and now.

My approach to this problem is to make sure there is always relevant references to similar products based on the characteristics of those references in the original post.

This is not always something that is easy to maintain, since it may be hard to know which products that the purchasing department are dicscontinued and where the procurement team has decided that they will no longer purchase this product.

What I have started doing is to check to have the visitor stay for a little longer and hopefully becoming a customer is:

  • Avoid relating to products by their product ID.
  • Make references by searches and query conditions allowing other products to be displayed there as the old products disappear from the site.

Every content page is supposed to be a page where you can start or continue your shopping and by presenting relevant products that could replace or fit by sharing common characteristics of the original product, you will notice that the bounce rate for those pages will go down – a lot!

My piece of advice

Know the value of you content. Old content that has been around for a couple of years may be a really good source for traffic that are looking for something that is no longer available, but when they are aware of this, they may end up purchasing your suggestion for replacement products.

If you reference products from content, make sure to match by category, attribute etc to always have an updated list of related products that are buyable.

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Fredrik Gustavsson

CEO, IT-consultant at Jolix AB
Software and integration magician with an interest in how to improve commerce in a multi channel environment. Owns his own IT-consultancy business and runs an e-commerce store that has a physical store. Will write blog posts on how to take his own store into the future.