The calendar may say that it is now spring in many parts of the world, which means the weather is changing and the flowers are blooming! Spring time is a wonderful period, and it is the time when homeowners will often decide to do a thorough cleaning of their house. Walls get washed, floors are scrubbed and the closets are cleared. But as we get busier, the ritual of doing such spring cleaning is something that becomes a little more about the idea than the execution, because we simply do not have time to get these things done! But what if we applied the same concept of spring cleaning to our websites? There is really no better time than the present to make a plan and to clean your site.

Why Bother Cleaning a Site?

The main reason why you are going to want to clean your website is to ensure that people are still interested in the content you are producing. While great content is definitely something that drives users to your site, you cannot ignore the fact that people like to see shiny new things. They like to see websites that regularly update their look and feel.

And sometimes we have pages that were part of our site a year or two ago, but we have forgotten about them. Since you no longer link to them on your site, you may pretend they no longer exist. But to a search engine, these pages are very much active. If those pages have content that people might search about, they are still going to appear in search results. And going on old, irrelevant pages is only going to confuse your readers and potential customers. The last thing you want is for someone to read about an outdated version of what you are offering today.

Where to Start?

The most obvious place to begin is to use the Webmaster Tools from Google. These will help you see how many of your pages are part of Google’s site index. It is the best way to see what is going on, because you can do a quick count of how many active pages you think you have, and you can see if there is a disparity with Google’s results. Run your own spider tool to see how many pages are currently active on your site. This is something that companies should most definitely do if they sell products or services through their site, because we have a tendency to leave up product pages even if those items are no longer being sold.

If you have no process for getting rid of web pages for discontinued items, those pages are probably still lurking on the internet and appearing on search engine results. Think of it as clearing out your closet!

What to Do With These Pages?

If you find pages that need clearing out, you need to use the permanent 301 redirects to ensure that those older pages are redirecting to your more relevant, recently updated content. Perhaps you can redirect to newer versions of the old products, or you can create a generic, “this product is no longer available,” page that is used for all those older, irrelevant pages.

When to Clean?

The best thing you should do is to figure out a period that makes the most sense for your business. No two businesses are the same, and an annual cleaning may work for some, but it may be too infrequent for others. Figure out how often you have a new product information cycle, and go from there. For instance, a company that changes up their product lineup every few months should clean their site each time they change up their lineup. In contrast, a company that has the same core products for many years may not need to do a spring cleaning more than once a year.

Focus your search on more than your product pages. Look at supplemental pages and FAQ pages as well. Those are often outdated, because the answers to questions may have changed, or your company’s policies may have changed. Unless you index your older pages that are no longer relevant, someone is going to see them and they will form an opinion on your company based on those older pages.

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