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Can you inherit content from other sites?

One of the most frustrating things I see in website management is companies launching new websites and just throwing away everything they’d built up before. However, this isn’t yet another plea to redirect all the pages from earlier incarnations of your website if you set up a new one. Instead, what I’ve often been asked is: can you use the same redirection principle, inheriting the strength of old pages, by bringing them in from other sites? And the answer is yes.

Here’s an example. Over 20 years ago, we published some great technology background articles on a magazine I edited, and put them on our website, where they proved very popular (by the tiny web traffic standards of the time). Some time after, the magazine decided to ditch its archive, so the original author, a consultant, asked if he could republish the articles on his website, with redirections from the original magazine URLs. Google picked up on the change very quickly, and although the consultant’s website wasn’t as highly ranked, the new articles benefitted from the history and the links to the magazine site, and continued to top the search engine results.

Fast forward to a few years ago, and the consultant retired, and said he’d be closing his website. I asked him if I could inherit the articles, and put them on my own personal site just to keep them alive. I also kept his domain going, just to host the redirects for the articles. Eventually, I realised that one of our clients could use these articles, and offered to transfer them. So now the articles are carefully looked after in their fourth home …and they get more traffic than ever. Because we managed the redirections carefully each time, very little ‘link equity’ was lost over the years.

So the takeaway here is that if you come across good content on other sites which is neglected, or maybe about to die, try to get ownership of it. Ensure that there are proper 301 redirections from its former host, and publish away. Even if you have to pay for it, the content can be a bargain.