Should I Be Careful When Deleting Posts and Pages?


This post is part of the Friday Q&A section. Just use the contact form if you want to submit a question.

Dan asks:

I deleted about 20 posts on my Romanian blog and started from scratch. Do you think this is bad for search ranking?

It is not good, that is for sure.

I am guessing that these 20 posts were all you had on the blog (else you would think twice before starting from scratch). If you also had some backlinks pointing to those posts, well, now the google bot will start seeing a lot of 404 errors while trying to crawl your site. It will actually see more 404s than existing pages, and this usually is a bad sign.

The result of the whole thing combined is that you will have a hard time ranking that blog right now. But don’t worry, deleting these 20 posts should not have caused any permanent damage. As soon as you start publishing new unique content and getting new quality and relevant backlinks again Google will understand what happened and will put you back on the index.

If I was in this situation, though, I would not have deleted the posts and would rather have used a new domain name to start from scratch. Why? Because sometimes Google does not see changes in the topic on a domain name with good eyes (especially if this change is drastic). For instance, if you have been talking about “pet food” on a domain for over a year, it would be a bad idea to wipe everything and start a new blog on that same domain talking about “mobile phones.” This is point to take into consideration when you are buying an existing domain as well.

Now there is no need to get worried about deleting one single post or page inside your website if you need to. As long as the overall structure of your site remains the same Google will not have a problem with it. If you can avoid generating 404 errors, though, that is a good idea.

First of all you want to make sure that you don’t have internal links pointing to non-existing pages. Too many of these can become a problem, because they signal to Google that the webmaster is not taking good care of the site. If possible you should also try to update the external links that were pointing to the pages you deleted, but those as not as important because you don’t have direct control over them.

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