You write a blog post, edit and revise it until it sparkles, and hit publish. Then you promote it all over the internet and watch the traffic roll in.
Now you’re done, right?
You could leave it alone and never look at that post again, but your blog is a living, breathing entity. Don’t let your old posts get crusty and stale, or just sit there without living up to their potential.
Why update your old blog posts?
readers like relevant content (and so do search engines)
The internet is getting older, search engines have changed, and readers are looking for current, relevant content.
There’s a lot, and I mean a LOT of content on the internet, and much of it is obsolete, poorly-written, or otherwise useless.
Readers now have to wade through a lot of old junk to get to the new, useful content they’re looking for. Search engines are changing to help them with that search, favoring newer content that has a lot of recent interaction (like social media shares).
This doesn’t mean your web content has to age badly, it just means you’ll need to change your strategy and regularly update your content.
Get more mileage from your old posts
This is a huge timesaver because it means (for most industries) you can post higher-quality content less often, which is good news if you’ve been killing yourself trying to post something every single day or even every week.
Readers and search engines want quality, not necessarily quantity. The internet has plenty of quantity.
Get ideas for new content
One of my favorite places to get ideas for new content, for my own business and for my clients, is old blog posts.
There might be an interesting point in there you can build on. Maybe you have more to say on that topic.
Or maybe that content has even more current information you can write about. This is especially true if you blog about things that change frequently like social media, technology, business strategy, etc.
It’ll show you what your audience wants so you can give it to them
When you review your old posts to see which are the most popular, that says a lot about what your audience is looking for. That way, you can create posts, products, and optins that meet their needs.
How to update old content
Clean out your blog every year
About once a year, go through your blog to do a blog audit. I like to do this in the spring as kind of a spring cleaning.
Update titles if necessary, but don’t mess with the URLs unless you do a 301 redirect. (A 301 redirect sends your readers to a new link if they click an old one that doesn’t work anymore. That way, they don’t get 404ed if they happen to land on the old URL. Here’s how to do this.)
Make sure all links work and that images are still there. Make sure you’ve done SEO on every post. Give everything a quick proofread and fact check.
Bonus tip: While you go, pick apart old posts to save the bits that are still useful and combine into new posts. Or you can use those as captions for social media posts! (Repurposing content is just as important as refreshing it!)
Update and republish old posts
Make sure your old posts are still relevant. If they aren’t, update them.
If they’re totally off base and just don’t fit with your brand anymore, or if they concern something that doesn’t exist anymore and aren’t bringing in traffic, I think it’s okay to delete them. It’s up to you whether you want to do this, but if you can do a 301 redirect to a more relevant post, deleting that old post can really help your readers out and build your credibility.
Add links to your newer content
Go through your old posts and add links to your newer content in the same vein. You can get a plugin to do this, or just add regular ol’ link to the bottom or even middle of your articles, or link in relevant places in the text.
Update your formatting
Make your posts scannable and easy to read! If your old posts are just big blocks of text, add headings, bullet points, numbered lists, etc. I’ve actually got a handy free checklist to help you do this, which you can grab here.
Add a call to action
If your old posts don’t have a call to action that tells the reader where to go next (or if the calls to action are outdated) add new ones! Add a signup form for your optin, a link to your products, or at least point them to other relevant blog posts so your readers can continue their journey with you.
Focus on your most popular posts
Every once in a while, take a peek at your analytics to see which blog posts are bringing in the most traffic. Those are the posts you really want to focus on updating.
Add to them, include links to products, optins, and other relevant posts, and really make them the most useful bits on content on your blog. Those popular articles are your front line, so keep them in shape!
I recommend checking on these guys at least twice a year to make sure they’re performing at their best.
Your blog isn’t a slow cooker. You don’t just set it and forget it. Revisit your old posts regularly to make sure everything is updated and still relevant. This will help you get found, serve your readers, AND help you get a lot more mileage from those posts you worked so hard on!