Jul 28, 2015 • Jessica Jones
Some sites keep the same sitemap in place for years. You have a Home page, an About Us page, a page detailing the services you offer, a page with contact information, a page with testimonials; these are some of the more common business site elements. Hopefully you’re making sure that the information on those pages stays updated - adding new staff members if you’ve got information about your team, adding in new testimonials to keep things fresh, and generally keeping the information about your business and what it has to offer from falling behind.
<figcaption id="caption-attachment-3485" class="wp-caption-text">Your shed may look like this, but your WordPress installation shouldn’t!</figcaption></figure>
Depending on the structure of your site, these kinds of updates might not typically involve the adding or removing of pages from your menu. For some businesses and organizations, however, adding and removing pages is a regular occurrence. Let’s say your organization holds events regularly, and with each event you create a page with detailed information about that event. Or perhaps your business runs regular specials and with each new special you add a page to promote it.
When you create these temporary pages you might add them to your site’s navigation menu, or you might just link them to your Home page using a button or other call to action to draw attention. You leave the link or button up until the event is over, and then you promptly remove it. (You do promptly remove it, right? Right?) Once the link to the page is gone, however, what happens to the page itself? Are you being vigilant about putting unused pages into the Trash?
Once the links to the page have been removed from your Home page and menu, users wouldn’t be able to navigate to it without being given a direct link. Don’t, however, make the mistake of thinking that this means the page is effectively gone from the internet, because it isn’t. Even if there aren’t links to it on your site, that page still exists, which means it can be indexed by search engines. If the content on those pages is outdated, that’s not a good thing. You don’t want users stumbling across a page with information that is no longer relevant or, worse, no longer true.
Deleting old pages isn’t just a good idea for keeping old content away from search engines, it’ll also make your life easier when you work on your site. Keeping your Pages menu tidy means less to sort through when looking for the page that you want to edit or managing your menu structure. Clutter makes it difficult to find what you’re looking for in WordPress just like it does on your desk.
WordPress’s Trash is also a great way to store content that you don’t need now but might choose to re-use in the future. Let’s say you have a holiday sale; once that sale is over you’ll move that page into the Trash. WordPress stores pages in the Trash indefinitely unless you empty the Trash as a whole or permanently delete the individual items from the Trash menu. If you plan on having a similar sale when the holiday rolls around next year, you can leave that page in the Trash until the time for the sale comes back around, then restore that page and make any necessary edits to bring it up to date without having to start from scratch.
Another option for this is to change the status of a page from Published to Draft, which also keeps it from being accessible to search engines and users. Draft pages remain in your Pages menu, so this option makes more sense if you’re only looking to take the page out of commission for a short time, or if you want to leave it there as a reminder to yourself to complete it.
Keeping your pages list trim will help keep clutter from getting indexed in search engines, which will in turn keep searching users from stumbling across potentially confusing or aggravating outdated information. It will also make managing the page easier on you, giving you less to sort through. There is no downside - so do what efficient cooks do, and clean as you go! It takes very little time and will pay off in avoided frustration.