Do you update old posts on your blog?
Lately I’ve spent quite a bit of time here on ProBlogger in my archives updating old posts – perhaps even more than creating new content for the ProBlogger blog and podcast.
It’s something that I’ve done regularly over the years, and a task that I think many blogs could benefit from.
When you’ve been blogging for a few years you’ll end up with an ‘archive’ of content and over time that archive can become a challenge to maintain and one in which you probably want to pay attention because it’s often posts in those archives that end up generating a fair bit of traffic – particularly from search engines.
For example – back in 2008 I created this Make Money Blogging page here on ProBlogger which acted as a central point to put a lot of teaching on how to make money blogging.
Originally the post documented my own income streams and gave some advice on how to get started.
The post got quite a few links from around the blogosphere and ended up ranking reasonably well for a number of ‘make money blogging’ type keywords.
The problem was that while the post continued to rank and drive traffic – I focused so much on creating new content for ProBlogger that the content on that page began to date. It also gradually developed some errors too (eg. a few of the outbound links were going to error pages).
From time to time I would give the page a bit of an update to remove deadlines or add a little updated information but a couple of months ago I decided to bite the bullet and completely update the content on that page with a complete overhaul.
Reasons to Update an Old Post
While I know some bloggers don’t like to update old posts as they like to treat their archives as a record – errors and dating and all – I think most bloggers should consider updating old posts from time to time for a number of reasons:
Any blog that has been going for more than a year is bound to have a broken link or two – at the very least bloggers should have a bit of a strategy for finding them and updating
Further Listening: I talk about how to find broken links in episode 27 of the podcast. I’ve embedded it here for you to listen to right here if you’d like.
Most bloggers change in their opinions over time – it’s human to do so. I know my approach to my topic is different today than it was back in 2004 when I started ProBlogger and so posts written back at that time might advise things I don’t agree with today.
Not only our opinions change but other circumstances too. For example, in the Make Money Blogging post I mention above I originally linked to an ad network that has completely changed its model. As a result the way I describe it in the post misinformed readers.
Some of the old posts that I wrote many years ago look very dated simply because at the time the cool thing to do was to use small images, coloured fonts and other use of html in posts that we simply wouldn’t do today. It’s amazing what simply updating the formatting of an old post and the addition of a good visual can do to refresh it.
How to Update Your Posts
There are a number of ways to update old posts. Here’s what I consider when I’m looking at an old post:
1. Delete it
On occasion an old post is simply best to be deleted. This isn’t my preference as I usually find a way to do an update but if the post is completely wrong or irrelevant for today I might do this.
2. Quick Updates
If all that is needed is replacing an old link with a new one and maybe giving the post a bit of a proof read then I will simply update the post and not make a note on the post that it has been changed.
If I’m making any kind of significant change to a blog post like a change of opinion or noting that there’s been a change in my advice then I will often add an ‘Update’ section to the post itself. A good example of this is a post where I shared my story that I originally wrote in 2006 that I later updated in 2008. You’ll see in that post I made a note early in the post that it had been updated and then added a section at the bottom (I should probably update that post again).
You’ll notice in that last example that the post is still dated 9 December 2006 (the date I originally published it). If I want to get that post back into the view of new readers here on the blog I could have republished it with a new date. This puts it back onto the front page of the blog and gives it fresh attention – however it is well worth noting that if you have dates in your URL structure this is not advised as it’ll change the URL of your post (not good for SEO). I don’t do this here on ProBlogger (where we currently do have dates in our URLS (we will be changing this soon) but we do do this on Digital Photography School where we don’t have dates in our permalink.
5. New Posts
Another option that is well worth considering is to write a completely new post with the new information that you want to communicate and publish that as a new post. In this case you might want to link from the old post to the new post prominently to let anyone know who does find that old post that there’s fresher information on the new post (or you could even set up a 301 redirect so that anyone finding that old post is forwarded to the new one).
Which Posts Should You Consider Updating?
ProBlogger has almost 8000 posts in its archives so updating all old posts is a mammoth task – so which posts are best to update?
I generally make the decision to update posts in one of the following circumstances:
1. The old post gets a lot of traffic
The posts I’m most likely to update are any old posts that are getting constant traffic either from search engines, referral traffic from other sites or social media. I particularly pay attention to search traffic as I find a lot of our oldest posts continue to send a lot of traffic.
2. The old post is one I want to feature in social media
Last year I shared how I’ve been using the tool Edgar to highlight posts in my archives on social media. As I added content into the Edgar library I was assessing if posts needed to be updated before adding them. This way I wasn’t pushing people to dated or embarrassing content.
What do you do with posts that are a bit past their use-by date? I’d love to hear in the comments.