Simple steps to archive outdated content

Keep older articles that are the most popular and archive the rest.

Keep older articles that are the most popular and archive the rest.

Have you ever looked up contact information from a 20-year-old Yellow Pages directory?

I didn’t think so.

And why not? Because the information is probably outdated. A lot has happened since then: businesses have added new locations, moved, gone out of business, and new ones have sprung up.

A lot has happened with your organization since then too. In the digital age, 20- or even 10-year-old content is ancient history. When you first established your website, you were likely looking for anything and everything to post, and this could have included information, resources, and stories from the 90’s. Think about it: that’s 20+ years ago now – an entire new generation has come of age since then!

Your website shouldn’t be the database for every article, story, press release, video, etc. that was produced by your organization. It should be a showcase of your best work. Sometimes this may include information that’s a few years old, but you do need to have a system for archiving dated material.


To do:

1. Identify evergreen content. These are the best pieces you want to showcase: information about your organization, a collection of stories and resources that never get old, studies your organization did that are often cited, etc. This content will need to be refreshed from time to time (if your most recent success story is 8 years old, people will be wondering if you’ve lost your charm!), but for the most part you shouldn’t have to update these pieces of content too often. This should be a fairly short list – remember, you want to showcase you best work, not everything you’ve ever done.

2. Identify content that will get dated quickly. This includes time-sensitive announcements (such as a new staff member joining the team), information about events, blog posts and resources related to current events, and e-newsletter archives.

3. Decide how old is “too old” for your content. The time frame depends on how much content you produce and how time-sensitive your materials are. You may have different time frames for each category of content. For example, you may archive your past e-newsletters after six months but keep your success stories for as long as four years.

4. Look at the statistics for your content in the past year. This can help you decide how long to keep your content. If people have mostly visited your stories from the past two years, then that might be a good marker. If only two people have visited your e-newsletter archives, perhaps you don’t even need to include them on your website at all. Looking into your analytics can also help you find older content that is still popular. If an older article or resource is still bringing a lot of traffic to your site, make an exception to your “dated content” rule.

5. Create a plan to archive your content. Who is responsible for archiving? What are the steps to archive content? Which content needs to be archived, and when?