How to handle old content

Userlevel 4

This topic was last updated on 19.06.2020


When a community becomes more mature some of the provided information or answers given might become outdated. Since a community should help people to find the right information, this outdate information should be taken care of.

Removing older topics or moving topics to an ‘archive’ category is not always the best option. By doing so, you might delete popular community pages from Google search result pages which can lead to a huge decrease in visitors via organic search. Instead of deleting old content, it can be better to update the content of the outdated topics. Of course, it will be impossible to check every single topic in the community, but with the following approach the information on the community can be updated without putting in too much unneeded effort. It is advised to check for topics that need to be updated twice a year.

4 steps to update topics


Step 1: Create a list of the most visited topics of the last year

Visit the Google Analytics page that covers the analytics of the community or any other analytics tool you might have in place like Omniture. If you use Google Search Console, you can easily find out which topics where the most important ones for your community since your last review.

Step 2: Export the top 1000 mos read pages

To check if 1000 topics make sense, you can take a look at the number of views. You can also decide on the number of pages to check based on the views and for instance only check pages that are viewed over 100 times. You may not need to check the content of 1000 pages. You may not need to check the content of 1000 pages. You should look for the most viewed topics to make sure you are only changing topics that are still being visited. You can export the most read pages via the ‘export’ button on the top left corner in Google Analytics.

Step 3: Divide the topics among your moderators

Now that you have all your most viewed topics in the last year, it is time to divide the work among your team. For instance, every moderator can check 100 topics. This might look like a lot of topics, but in the top 1000 pages there will be a lot of topics that are still containing the right information, category pages, profile pages, etc. In most cases only 1 out of 10 to 20 topics have to be adjusted.

Step 4: Update the topic content

When you look at updating content, there are multiple ways to do it:

1) You can update the topic by adding the right information in the opening post. This is recommended if you work with official guides, FAQs etc. - so content from you and your colleagues.

With our callout feature, you can highlight then when the topic was updated last - just like in this article. This gives the best experience, as users immediately see that the content indeed is up-to-date, regardless when the article has been published initially.

2) Instead of adding the new information you can also link to a newer topic that contains the right information. This is recommended for Q&A topics which get a ton of traffic, but are not as helpful as other content.

Also here you can work with the callout feature - this way you do not need to change the actual content generated by users (which can be weird as users might not appreciate you changing their post). An update could look something like this:


Please note that this content is outdated and/or will not help you as much as this guide: link

This approach might also contribute to a higher ranking of the updated topic in Google since it will lead to clicks and visitors to the newer topic.

3) Another approach is to edit someting into the answer that is marked so the right information will also appear in the first comment. This again can be done with a note that you have edited information and when this has been done.


In the end, it should be the customer experience leading your decision how to update outdated content. In each case however, it should be clear to the user that there has been an update, otherwise users might not trust the information.

7 replies

Userlevel 4
Badge +3

Great guide - we do this with the topics that get the most views, keeping them UTD, or linking to newer versions.


What about old engagement content? Out of date topics, failed convo starters. Thin content that might even hurt our SEO rather than help it. Instead of losing it, I’ve heard there’s a way to create an archive category, which is fully visible to any registered user. 


For our organic search traffic and for crawlers, they can’t see it. This seems like a good middle ground for dealing with old content. Any advice on setting this up? 

Userlevel 4
Badge +3

Any advice on this archive workaround? @Julian 

Userlevel 7
Badge +1

Hi Tim,

thanks for mentioning me and bringing this to my attention! :)

I get that you’d like to see this type of content being hidden from Google, as it does not really have an added value for anybody.

For now, you could create an archive category with the permissions to view this category denied for not-logged-in users. This way Google cannot crawl it and the topic will not be displayed (after a while, when Google has caught up). I know SONOS is doing it this way on their community.

We are investigating a more elegant solution for you to archive content in general. Nothing is set in stone, however we recognize the downside of content archived this way: Users would not find older topics via the community search when they are not logged in, which is not ideal.

I can recommend this recently submitted idea & discussion, which should be relevant for what you want to do. Unfortunately archiving & SEO impact is a bit more complex topic, hence we want to properly investigate all pros & cons of the different ways of archiving, to make sure that the negative impact (on SEO in general, but also on the user experience) is as little as possible.

Userlevel 1

Hi Guys

Is there an overall rule of thumb, which could be used for communities, where old content is present in a bit bigger scale throughout the categories? I mean, is there any obvious “rule” to follow, saying, “Move content, where last reply is older than a specific time or year etc. to the archive category” - just to give an example? :relaxed:  

Having a lot of old content in the community and if a lot has changed during the times product-wise, maybe no harm is done just moving some content directly in the archive category? 

Well in the end I suppose it comes down to our own decision, whether or not that will make sense and what content we think we have. 

Have a great day!:sunglasses:

Userlevel 4
Badge +3

Hi @Kasper86 


I doubt there’s a one size fits all approach to content pruning. I base content relevancy on GA views first and foremost. If a topic isn’t getting any views in 6 months, it should be inline for an archive. As it’s probably not a relevant question for your members anymore.


But I would also factor in the content quality itself - is it a well written piece of support content with key words and good advice? If so, it might be worth bringing it back to life with some tagging, plugging or merging. Rather then demoting it to a hidden archive folder. 


It’s difficult to judge at times, but if in doubt, let your members’ viewing habits decide for you.

Userlevel 1

Hej @timcavey 

Thank you so much for your input here. Much appreciated! :relaxed:

Userlevel 7
Badge +1

Yes, I second what Tim says - it really also depends on the products and services you offer, and how quickly information becomes outdated.

Mostly, communities who archive regard content older than one year outdated and ready for archiving (or an update).

Some do analysis on e.g. popularity of content and then decide which topics they will update and which ones will be moved to an archive. This is more important for communities that get a lot of traffic via Google, as they need to preserve these topics.