How To Refresh Old Blog Posts The Right Way
How long have you been running your blog? I’ve been running this one since 2004 – and I can hardly believe it has been that long. If you’ve been blogging a long time too, you might want to take a look at your older blog posts. Odds are that you will want to refresh old blog posts that need some help to remain current. Take some time and do the job right.
Sometimes refreshing an old blog post won’t be the right choice. Some things don’t need to be brought up to date, while other posts will need so many changes that it makes more sense to create an entirely new blog post. This has risks, as the new post won’t have the links to it that the old did, but sometimes the change makes sense.
Don’t change the URL if you can avoid doing so. If you feel it’s important you can do a redirect, but it’s better to avoid this change. You don’t want to risk breaking links to that page. A new URL is likely to get less traffic, at least for a time.
Analyze Your Traffic
Check your analytics and see which of your old blog posts are getting traffic. These are the most urgent posts you need to update. They’re the ones that are still doing something well enough that you’re getting search engine or social media traffic on them, but are maybe a little on the old side.
Updating these posts should bring more traffic to them. Search engines like updated content. Visitors like high quality content, and the whole point of updating your old blog posts is to increase their quality. Increasing the quality of these posts should be done with the goal of getting more search engine traffic and more social media attention.
Check Your Facts
The most important thing to do as you refresh old blog posts is to make sure that they’re factually correct. Sometimes this will require significant changes, depending on your topic. There may be a newer survey on the subject, for example.
Other times, you will find that very little needs to be changed. Many subjects don’t change all that much through the years. If you’re refreshing a recipe, for example, there may not be any changes at all to how it’s made, while a post on search engine optimization may require significant changes.
Fact checking your old blog posts is vital. You don’t want to have information on your blog that has been debunked or is simply out of date. You want to be a great resource for your visitors. If they catch you sharing outdated information, especially on a post you’ve just updates, they won’t see you as a good resource.
Add Fresh Information
Adding fresh information does a lot to refresh a blog post. Many subjects will have new information you should add. Other times it will be your perspective that has changed.
For example, when I’m updating old blog posts, they will sometimes make reference to things my kids have done recently, from the perspective of the original post. Obviously, those references go out of date in a short time. My kids aren’t babies and toddlers anymore – my oldest is a teen!
Some stories still work in the new post, but the phrasing should be changed to reflect that they happened in the past. Others won’t work anymore.
If you have specific examples to add to a post, those work great as well. A well chosen example makes things much clearer.
Quotes from experts may help as well. You can use HARO to find experts if you have the time, or try contacting people you’ve networked with already. Expert quotes can increase the authority of your blog posts, which is always a good thing.
Length may be another consideration. When I started blogging, most of my posts were 300-600 words long. These days, that’s way, way too short. Most people recommend at least 1000 words. Others recommend 2000 words or more. Your ideal length will depend on your industry and what your readers enjoy. Any length recommendations are only recommendations, and are not written in stone.
My rule of thumb is to use as many words as needed to get the point across rather than focus on a word count, but I still write much longer posts than I used to. When I look at my old posts, I see posts that could have been way more informative if I had taken more time with them. I don’t want the same to keep happening, so I do my best to add more information now.
Rethink Your SEO
Both as you write and once your content has been updated, think about the SEO of that content. What keywords are you targeting?
Don’t target a single word or super common phrase. You probably won’t rank very highly for terms such as “blogging,” for example. But if you get more specific, you’ll have a better chance to rank.
Use your keywords a few times throughout your content. Do not overuse the keyword, or you’ll annoy your readers. You can’t forget them in your efforts to be found online.
You should also use appropriate variations on your keywords. Google and other search engines are getting better all the time at figuring out normal variations on keywords. This is called semantic SEO, and can help your posts be found for a wider range of searches.
You may also want to update the blog post title so that it’s more informative. This helps encourage people to click through when they see a link to your post. There is a risk to this, however, as the new title may not perform as well as the old did.
Check Your Links
It amazes me sometimes how fast links can go out of date. When I check links on my work at home job board, many have gone bad in under a year, as sites change link structure or companies go out of business.
Sometimes you will be able to figure out where the information you were linking to has moved on the website. Other times you will need to find an entirely new resource to link to.
You may also want to see if there’s a newer version of the information to link to. I have posts that link to statistics on certain jobs, for example. If I update one, I would want to check the current stats and link to those, rather than to the ones I originally used.
If you didn’t do so previously, you may want to consider whether you want to make links to outside sites open in a new window or tab. I do this routinely now. This increases the chances that visitors will stay on my site and maybe read something else.
You may also want to add rel=”noopener” when you open a link in a new window or tab. Opening a link into a new tab can be a security vulnerability, as the new page will run on the same process as your site. Adding rel=”noopener” makes it run in a separate process.
If you aren’t familiar with how to handle these, it’s quite simple. Look at the Text tab of your WordPress editor. Links will be something along the lines of:
To make the link open in another tab and use noopener, you would add the appropriate code, so it looks like:
<a href=”linktoanothersite” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>
Make sure you also add links to your own relevant content. Linking within your own site is an important part of SEO and encourages visitors to check out more of your content. This keeps them on your site longer, which gives you more chances to earn something and looks better to search engines.
Also take a moment to consider if any other posts on your blog should be linked to the the one you’re updating. It only takes a few moments to add a link while it’s on your mind. A quick scan of blog posts in the same category on your blog can help you remember relevant posts.
Can You Make Money Off The Post?
Sometimes your older blog posts aren’t making the most of the income generating opportunities you now know about. They might lack affiliate links or even links to products you sell yourself.
Don’t skip these opportunities. Add appropriate links to give your blog more chances to make money for you.
For any existing money making links, consider how well they’ve been converting. Can they do better? Maybe you can make a better sales pitch for whatever you’re selling there.
Make New Images
How do the images look on your old blog posts? Are they a good match for current social media guidelines? Do they look professional? Are there enough of them? Do your old posts even have images? Is the branding on them current or an older style for your site?
If the posts are really old, you may not have even used images very often. I didn’t, back when I started. Then when I did start, it took me a while to find out that certain sizes are better for social media. There are also ways to have some images hidden away for social media use so that you don’t have excessively large images making your posts difficult to read.
Consider current social media image size guidelines. You don’t have to make every size, but it doesn’t hurt to have a few options. There are some wonderful, free tools out there that make creating your own blog graphics easy.
I especially make sure to have Pinterest-ready images, as Pinterest is so visual. Vertical images do far, far better on Pinterest than horizontal ones do. Most of my older posts, if they had images, had horizontal images, so this has been an important step for me. Some bloggers get huge traffic from Pinterest. It’s worth taking the time to market your blog on Pinterest.
You can control which of your images can be pinned to Pinterest, which is a big help. You will sometimes need images in your posts that won’t look right or do well on Pinterest, after all. It is even possible to make it so that people only see your pinnable images when they click on the Pinterest logo on your site.
Pinterest likes it if you have a few images to use on their site, not just one. It’s also a good way to test and see what works best. After a while, you should be able to identify a style that does best and use that most often on your primary images for your posts.
Check Comment Quality
Take a look at any comments on your old posts. Are they relevant? Are there dead, inappropriate or spammy links in the comments?
If the comment is good, but the link is bad in one sense or another, you might decide to remove the link on the comment, but keep the comment. Many times when I’ve reviewed comments, I’ve found a number that link to dead sites. There’s no need to keep such links, even if the comment itself was relevant.
To Republish Or Not To Republish Old Blog Posts
Just because you refresh old blog posts doesn’t mean you have to republish them. I often do, but not every time.
The first thing to consider is how old the refreshed post is. If this is something you posted long ago, it’s often worth republishing, as few of your current readers have ever seen it. If the post is more recent, I’ll just update it and not republish.
This is a big part of why I don’t use dates in my blog permalink structure. I did in the early days, but came to realize that it wasn’t a good idea. It makes for long URLs, and doesn’t add value. It also means you have to do a redirect anytime you republish, due to the change in date. It’s better for SEO if you can keep using the same URL
Share On Social Media
It’s not going to do you a whole lot of good to refresh old blog posts if you don’t share them on social media. A number of mine were from before I used ANY social media. Running a blog has changed so much in the years that I’ve been blogging. Social media wasn’t really a thing at first, but now it’s vital.
Work the refreshed blog post into your social media schedule, just as you would a brand new post. Do this even if you don’t republish the post on your blog. You want fresh attention on these posts after you’ve put in the work.
I use Hootsuite to schedule my posts. It has even finally added in a Pinterest scheduler. The Pinterest scheduler is perhaps not so smooth as the one Tailwind offers, but it’s available. If you have Hootsuite and don’t want to pay for multiple social media schedulers, this is a wonderful thing. I’ve been using the Hootsuite Pinterest scheduler to try it out, and hope to review it after I have more of an opinion on it.
If you don’t already have a social media strategy, you need to develop one. Know which platforms you’ll post to and how often. Some social media platforms do well with heavy daily posting. On other platforms, you’ll annoy people if you post more than 1-3 times a day.
All of this may seem like a lot of work on your old blog posts when you could be writing new ones, but it can be worth it! The time spent to refresh old blog posts can be better spent than the time spent on creating new ones, as you already know something of how they’re performing. If you want them to work even better for you, take some time and update your old blog posts.