We've all seen it before—a neglected, haunted corner of a corporate website where stale, uninspired content has taken root like fungus. Nothing sends potential customers away faster than dead content.

Those of us who make content for a living sometimes forget the various ways that content meets a slow or untimely demise: The message goes stale, the humor is off-kilter (even for 2005, when it was published), the content has failed to attract a readership, or it reveals a lapse in the corporate persona.

There are dozens of ways content can expire. But how do we find it, then remove it without disrupting the flow of marketing work and causing the SEO manager's blood pressure to spike? Should content ever come down from a corporate blog or website? If so, how?

Here are three suggestions for managing the content archiving process.

1. The Content Audit

The very word audit invokes visions of forensic accountants poring over columns of data. But a growing number of marketing organizations have warmed to the idea of periodic content audits.

As Kristina Halvorson and Melissa Rach point out in their book Content Strategy for the Web, there are three types of content audits:

  1. A quantitative audit aggregates all the content you have by title and type, serving as a kind of inventory and road map of where you're been.
  2. A qualitative audit/best-practices assessment compares all your content against industry best practices and is usually performed by a third party.
  3. A qualitative audit/strategic assessment is a deep-dive into how your content compares withe strategic goals, usually performed by folks from within the marketing organization.

What if your organization has 10,000-50,000 pieces of content, and so the thought of a comprehensive audit is enough to make your head swim?

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Dominic Smith is a content strategist at Rackspace and the author of three novels with Simon & Schuster. His work has appeared in The Atlantic, The New Yorker book blog, and The Millions website.

LinkedIn: Dominic Smith