You ever wonder what happens to your old web content? Like, the kind that you published on a social network you don’t use anymore, or an ancient blog? Because it doesn’t get sent to a farm upstate where it can run and play with lots of other web content. It goes into a GRAVE. And if you’re not careful, you might be digging content graveyards all over the whole entire Internet. Let’s make sure that doesn’t happen, okay?
You heard me – we need to talk about content graveyards. Content graveyards are the places where you’ve left your old content to rot. And maybe you don’t go visit your content’s resting place because it bums you out, but that won’t stop your audience from going there. And they are NOT gonna like what they see!
Look, everyone’s got stuff they’re not super proud of. Stuff they’d rather sweep under the rug and forget ever happened, like a promo deal that flopped, or a status update that nobody commented on, or a “That’s So Raven” tattoo. And while some things can be pretty easily left in the past or covered by long sleeves, your abandoned web content might still be out there, languishing in the far reaches of the Internet, waiting to be stumbled upon by some unsuspecting web user.
How do content graveyards get created?
So let’s say you’re getting fired up about your web marketing, so you sign up for accounts on all the major social media networks – Facebook, LinkedIn, what-have-you. Then you sign up for a bunch of niche social networks, just because you can – Instagram, Vine, Snapchat. Then you’re like, “I’m gonna start a podcast! And a weekly video series on YouTube! And another Facebook account!”
Hey, good for you! You’ve got moxie, kid! The only thing, though, is that you’ve got those excitement blinders on. You’re too revved up to realize that when the shizz hits the fan, you might not be able to maintain production on all of this content. Some people might say that when you take on an overwhelming amount of work, you’ve got too many balls in the air – in this case, though, those are chainsaws you’re juggling with, because when they come crashing down, it HURTS.
When you abandon a project online, it doesn’t just disappear. All those social accounts you quit worrying about months ago? Unless you actually deleted them, they’re still there, and people in your audience are probably still finding them. Same with the blog you quit posting to a while back, or the YouTube page you quit adding videos to. They’re all content graveyards.
Are content graveyards always bad?
Well, yeah, they kinda are! It’s easy to forget that, because when it comes to our old content, we can quickly fall into that “out of sight, out of mind” way of thinking. It’s ancient history! Who cares! No biggie!
And that’s EXACTLY why these graveyards are so, so dangerous. Because while you can easily put them out of your head, that won’t stop people from stumbling upon them. Even if your business is doing great, if someone finds a blog you haven’t updated in two years or a Facebook page without any activity, THEY aren’t going to see how great you’re doing! And most of the time, they won’t think, “Hey, did they move to another page or something?” They’re going to think, “I guess they aren’t around anymore. I’ll just try someone else.”
How do you avoid digging content graveyards?
The thing about content graveyards is that you never realize you’re digging one until it’s too late. Until then, you just think that you’re taking initiative and creating great new content! And unfortunately, you can’t predict when something is going to fail – but you CAN prevent it from happening.
So how do you know that you’re not digging yourself content graveyards all over the web? Easy – you take your time.
Web marketing offers a real sense of instant gratification – by the end of the day today, you could sign up for a dozen different social networks and publish content on half of them, all from the comfort of your Snuggie. But when that instant gratification puts excitement blinders over your eyes, that’s when you’re setting yourself up for a bad situation down the line. Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should!
That’s why the most important thing you can do is resist the urge to take on too much, too fast. Be deliberate. Get something up and running before moving on to something else.
When things are going smoothly, it’s because you haven’t created a situation that will prevent them from going smoothly. Before you unknowingly create that situation, give yourself time to be comfortable in your new routine, whether it’s updating your Twitter a few times a day or posting a new video to YouTube once a week. Get settled in. Find your rhythm. Give yourself time to burn out a little! And when the time comes, allow yourself to say, “Enough is enough.” Everybody hits their limit – what, did you think I’m on every single social network on the face of the Earth?
What do you do with a content graveyard?
You may have one or two (or ten) content graveyards out there already, showing up when people Google your name, preventing them from finding your most recent content. Some people might recommend taking a bulldozer to those graveyards and wiping them clean off the web, never to be seen again – and while that’s an effective method of getting them out of the way for good, it also wastes a valuable opportunity.
Don’t destroy your content graveyards. That’s content that you spent time and energy and blood and sweat and tears and entrepreneurial MOJO to create – destroying it would be a total waste! Instead, USE that old content to drive traffic to the right places.
If someone winds up in one of your old content graveyards, they’re interested in your content. They’re looking for you. The best possible thing you can do, then, is to make sure they end up in the right place.
Build redirects and links that bridge the gap between content graveyards and sites where you actively post. This doesn’t have to be complicated! If you have an old blog or a social network out there that you no longer use, all you have to do is add a message directing people toward someplace else, like this author did here.
When you do this – like I did with the Twitter account above – you can take advantage of the traffic that your content graveyards still attract, while making sure that those visitors end up in the right place and your old content doesn’t go to waste. (And of course, if you want to get even more fancy schmancy with directing traffic from an old website to a new one, you might try incorporating redirects.)
Got any content graveyards to fess up to? Any long-lost YouTube videos? A MySpace page? A DEVIANTART? You can admit it! Go ahead and Google yourself, see how far back you can go, and show us some of your finest abandoned content below – AFTER you add a link to your newer stuff, of course!