Many of my articles deal with creating new websites or new content for them. Yet there comes a time for content to be suppressed, archived, or even deleted from your site. This is especially true of time-sensitive information and news, as once the relevant dates have passed, its usefulness greatly diminishes. Part of your web content strategy should include what content can be retired, and when.
The most obvious question I would expect is "why would you want to get rid of content?" It may not seem to make sense in many cases. This is because many items on a website are not time sensitive. Content such as your Contact Us page will probably not change many times over the course of your church's existence. It will not go away and will only be updated when a drastic change occurs (new location, new phone number, change of pastors, etc.). These pages should remain as permanent fixtures for your site.
Yet other parts of your site will hopefully see constant change. Sections like daily devotionals, weekly bulletins, church events, news, and announcements should enjoy steady, almost a rhythmic tempo, of updates. This time sensitive information will display in chronological order, and depending on how long the page you display them on is; will only exist for so long before it moves on to the next page of results. Instead of letting this content go on until you began making updates, consider your options. It would be bad for someone to stumble upon your spaghetti dinner announcement from last year and arrive on the wrong date.
To prevent people from freely wandering into old content, visually suppress it on the page. This might mean that the link that would display more content would be less prominent. This can be done by reducing the text's weight (i.e. not bold), making the color contrast less (gray instead of black), and of course reducing its size.
Move older content to a completely separate section of your news and announcements. Perhaps after a year it can be automatically moved away from the fresh content. For added emphasis, style it with a different template. Something like adding "Archive" to the title might further enforce that this is old content and unless you are the church historian, this might not be what you are looking for.
As I said, this might seem absurd. However, if you do not have the technical abilities to automate the first two suggestions, it will be extremely time intensive to do them. Set up a reminder on your church maintenance calendar to delete the last few news posts from your feeds. Also, depending on the type of platform you are using, you might see an increase in speed.
Explore the idea of suppressing, archiving, or deleting content on your website. See where you can remove confusion by making your most recent content the most prominent. Do not worry about losing your spot in the search engines. Google is pretty good algorithm for determining if your page's content is time sensitive or not. So enjoy the steady increase of pagerank as you continue to keep your branches of content pruned.
Photo courtesy of Terri Heisele