CNet Deletes Thousands of Old Articles in an Attempt to Game Google Search

Thomas Germain, Gizmodo:

Tech news website CNET has deleted thousands of old articles over the past few months in a bid to improve its performance in Google Search results, Gizmodo has learned.


Whether or not deleting articles is an effective business strategy, it causes other problems that have nothing to do with search engines. For a publisher like CNET — one of the oldest tech news sites on the internet — removing articles means losing parts of the public record that could have unforeseen historical significance in the future. It also means the hundreds of journalists who’ve published articles on CNET could lose access to their body of work.

Google says this whole strategy is bullshit. A bunch of SEO types Germain interviewed swear by it, but they believe in a lot of really bizarre stuff. It sounds like nonsense to me. After all, Google also prioritizes authority, and a well-known website which has chronicled the history of an industry for decades is pretty damn impressive. Why would “a 1996 article about available AOL service tiers” — per the internal memo — cause a negative effect on the site’s rankings, anyhow? I cannot think of a good reason why a news site purging its archives makes any sense whatsoever.