For many bloggers, it can be a challenge just to churn out enough content to stay updated. So how much should you rework older blog posts?
I’m always curious when I see yet another list of things good bloggers should always do. For the most part, these lists are the same old steps over and over again. (Not that there’s anything wrong with the reminders of the basics, but I just mean that there’s rarely anything that jumps out at you.)
Something jumped out at me on such a list the other day.
As a general rule, I tend to avoid editing older blog posts. There are two primary reasons for that.
First, it feels like I’m cheating a bit, especially if I were to go in and completely rework a post.
I know, I know…that’s a silly thing to say. The way I feel about a topic in 2017 may be different than the way I felt about the same topic in 2007. But in a case like that, I don’t mind going in and linking to a newer post on the same subject and then using the new post to talk about what’s changed and, more importantly, why that change happened.
But beyond anything in the way of a change of position, what I said way back when, if I were doing my job as a blogger who cares about my audience, should have been written well enough and clearly enough that it would still have value even today.
The second reason, I’m afraid, is an admittedly outdated notion: the idea that once posts fall off the front page — indeed, once they wind up multiple pages in — no one would ever take the time to scroll back through multiple pages to see what I had to write about years ago.
While the idea of someone going back 200 pages from the front page to see what I might have to say whenever that was might not be entirely unreasonable, the idea that those old posts aren’t being seen is completely unreasonable.
In fact, I only have to look as far as my Google Analytics to prove that older blog posts are not only still being read, but that on any given week, they’re consistently among the most visited posts. At the moment, looking at my five most-viewed posts over the past week, two were from 2013 and three were from 2015.
Not one of them was even from last year, much less this year.
There’s a very good, very important reason for this: SEO. Yes, the dreaded Search Engine Optimization, the famous blogging buzzword that just won’t go away and gets tossed around by bloggers, some of whom couldn’t explain what it means if there were a gun at their head.
I’ve only been what I’d call “serious” about improving the blog’s SEO, and, thereby, improving how high it might rank in search engines for specific topics, since about 2013. Prior to that, I thought I was doing a decent job but actually wasn’t at all.
The Yoast plugin helped me see the error of my ways and helped me start improving. In the second half of 2013, I noticed a jump in my blog stats. I attributed it to several things, including more consistent posting — in January of that year, I began posting daily, for example.
I think SEO was a big part of that.
But some of those older posts didn’t have keywords or other SEO strategies at all. SEO wasn’t on my radar, mostly because I’d run into too many of the aforementioned bloggers who wore those initials on their sleeves but couldn’t define them to save their souls.
Maybe it’s time to rethink older blog posts after all.
What we might just learn if we re-examine our older blog posts is that there’s a wealth of good content that’s still applicable but just wasn’t formatted in a way to make it easy to find when it was first written.
Maybe that means we should recycle some of that content into new posts.
But maybe it means we should reformat the older blog posts to incorporate better SEO strategies and to refresh the writing a bit and make it more digestible, more concise, even better structured than the original version had been.
I know for a fact that I don’t write quite the same way in 2017 that I did in 2004, the year I started this blog. There are certain similarities in pattern and voice, of course. But I would like to think I’m a better writer 13 years later than I was when I started. In my day job, I know I’m a much better writer today than I was 26 years ago when I started in TV.
Writing is like exercising: you get better and more in shape the more you do it.
So maybe it’s time for me to start a little blogging project on the side in my copious amounts of spare time: refreshing an occasional older post to see if that might improve it beyond its original version.
I think a great place to start would the blog stats I mentioned earlier: if there are older blog posts that are performing particularly well, those should be the first ones I examine: after all, if they’re the ones drawing in the most views, it’s certainly important that those potential “first impressions” are good ones.
How do you feel about your own older posts? Do you ever revisit or refresh them?
Patrick is a Christian with more than 26 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.