One of the age-old questions of Web marketing, especially when launching a new site or moving to a new domain, is what to do with a large number of “pages” you have ready to publish. Some people feel you should put everything up at once and get it into the search indexes as quickly as possible. Other people like the idea of “dripping” content onto a site, in the hope of gradually building an audience.
Either method can be effective but each method has its strengths or advantages over the other.
Consider the Type of Website You’re Publishing
Many Websites now publish XML or RSS feeds. The purpose of these feeds is to send out notifications for new content. If you have subscribers or if you are piping the feeds to redistribution channels (such as apps that publish messages to social media), you should think about what it will look like if you update your XML/RSS feed with 50, 500, or 50,000 new URLs in a short period of time.
Whether the feed will be turned into a raging river of update notifications should not decide how much content you publish. Rather, you should decide when you want to turn on autonotifications. It’s okay to push 1,000 notifications into your feeds if you’re not channeling them anywhere (yet). So if you want your content to be crawled and indexed as quickly as possible, the real choice is between disabling those feeds for a while or allowing them to send out their notifications.
At the very least a blog will send ping notifications for each new Post type. Page type content does not send ping notifications. Hence, if you’re uploading a lot of non-Post content to Pages on a blog, you don’t need to worry about the feeds.
*=> Some WordPress users add a plugin that integrates new Page publication into the RSS feeds. I’d lead that plugin disabled until the site is fully populated. You can enable it later for new, not-yet-created Page content.
Think about How You Want to Promote the Site
An ecommerce Website needs to be crawled an indexed as quickly as possible, You usually want to upload all the product data that you can. But you may also have product feeds that can be integrated into shopping networks. These shopping feeds are handled differently from typical blog RSS/XML feeds.
Hence, if you’re publishing more than one kind of feed, clearly you want to get as much content as possible to some types of feeds while ignoring other types.
And when you’re integrating a social media strategy into your promotion, you can schedule social media shares as well as pipe your RSS/XML feeds into your social accounts. If you know it will be some time before you start to publish new content on a regular schedule you can use that time to share (or reshare) your best content without regard for how it is published on the site.
If Moving Old Content, Do You Care about Redirects?
Some people just prune old content from their sites. They may save old copies of deleted pages “just in case”. I often do that.
What do you do about those now dead URLs? You can redirect them to a page that says, “Sorry, what you’re looking for has been deleted”, or you can redirect them to comparable, newer pages. Or you could redirect them to your HTML sitemap. Many people just let old URLs die, sacrificing any potential link value they may have accrued for old, outdated content.
In some cases we’ve had success moving old articles onto new domains. The articles can be scheduled as “new” content that populates blog posts, assuming they are suitable for blog posts. If you’re not redirecting old URLs to the new site then there is no urgent need to get the content up quickly. You can create a publishing schedule that encourages people to come back to the site and subscribe to email notifications or RSS feeds.
By the same token, scheduling old content as new posts on a new site allows you to set up autosharing to social media accounts.
Are You Revising or Enhancing the Old Content?
Another reason to delay publication is to give yourself time to enhance or refurbish the old content before it goes live (again). If you’re rewriting headlines, adding images or other media, or rewriting some parts of the articles, you can give yourself time to do it right.
But what if you want to redirect old URLs to new URLs? You can allow the old URLs to error out for a while, especially if there are few links pointing to them. Yes, you might lose some crawl and potentially some old link value, but you can always recover those links with appropriate redirects later on.
Your advantage is in knowing what value the old URLs bring to the game. If you’re worried about someone else reclaiming old links because you took useful content offline, you still have some other options. For example, you can redirect those old URLs to newer, more relevant content on the original site. The new site will have to earn its own links as it goes forward (it probably won’t match the original link profile).
How to Temporarily Store Old Content Online
Many Web marketers hate the idea of using subdomains for SEO. Unfortunately they mistakenly believe the search engines treat root domains better than subdomains. That has never been true (as en.wikipedia.org has proven for years by dominating millions of queries).
If you want to prune old content from a flagship Website without fully sacrificing the visibility and backlink profile of the old content, you do have the option of first moving that content to a subdomain. What this does is reduce the content clutter on your main site. Instead of deleting the old URLs you can canonicalize them to the subdomain URLs. The search engines will gradually replace the old URLs with subdomain URLs. You don’t have to promote the subdomain, as it’s just a temporary home for this older content that you intend to recondition.
After you’ve moved the old content to the temporary subdomain start working on your new site. There you can enhance and rewrite each page or post as required, updating canonical declarations and implementing redirects where need on the original site and the temporary subdomain.
If it’s not clear why you would use such a complicated strategy, it allows you to:
- Redesign an existing site without old content
- Preserve the value and visibility of old content
- Create a new site (different domain) at a leisurely pace
In most situations where people choose to move old content they won’t need to use an intermediate site but it’s always an option, and we’ve successfully used intermediate subdomains for some past projects.
These temporary subdomains increase the amount of work you put into a project. They also create complexities in managing crawl (you manage crawl, not “crawl budget”). So be absolutely sure you want to take every precaution against losing old link value before you decide to do this.
Not everyone is fortunate enough to launch a new site with a lot of content. When you find yourself benefiting from such a windfall, take the time to consider your needs and weigh your options. Don’t make a rash decision because you may regret the thoughtless choice later on.
It’s been my experience that most Website projects have more time than they need to complete their moves, even when transitioning tens of thousands of pages of content. That said, you almost always work under a deadline. The idea behind our tips is to help you see ways to leverage your present resources against future needs and potential growth.
We’ve completed several successful projects where content that we thought had lost all intrinsic value took on a new life after we moved it to a new domain. You won’t know what to expect but before you throw all that old content away, if there is any archival value in preserving it at all, take the time to think about what you can do with it and what is required to keep it living and thriving on the Web.
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