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“They” say that blogging is 20 percent writing and 80 percent promotion, but I think “they” forgot to include one very important aspect of blogging life, and that’s updating old content. Once you write a blog post you really don’t want to just forget about it for the rest of eternity.
Well, you could, but it really wouldn’t be in your best interest to do so.
Instead, every few months or on a yearly basis (at most), you will want to take the time to go through and update old posts.
- Links expire or change, and the last thing you want to do is have non-working links on your site
- Your opinions on a product may change
- You may want to remove references to dates and/or events to make the post more evergreen
- Add links to related content you’ve written
- Add more and/or better images or videos
- It’s good for SEO and we all want to be in Google’s good graces
Now that we’ve answered why you should update old blog posts, it’s time to move on to the “how.”
There’s no one way to update an old blog post, but here are a few things to look out for as you’re going back through older posts you have written.
Add affiliate links
This pretty much goes without saying, right? If you wrote any blog posts before starting to work with affiliate networks, you should definitely go through and update your old posts to include affiliate links. You should add them in wherever it’s obvious (for instance, if you did a review for a product and you’re now an affiliate for the company), but you can also add them in not-so-obvious places. For instance, if you’re a recipe blogger, you might want to start adding affiliate links to link to some basic pantry items that can be picked up at Amazon.
Going through all of your old posts is an important step, but the easiest way to avoid it is to start using affiliate links on your blog on day 1. It will really cut down on the amount of updating you need to do.
Ensure that your hyperlinks work
Hyperlinks change all the time, annoyingly enough. Websites shut down or companies rearrange their URL structure. While there’s nothing more annoying as a blog reader than clicking on a dead link, if you want to make money blogging via affiliate marketing then it is absolutely imperative that your affiliate links stay up-to-date! Dead links could literally be costing you money!
Historically speaking, the posts that do the best are those that are evergreen. An evergreen blog post is a post that is just as true today as it was when it was written five years ago and that will still probably be true in two years. For this reason, it may behoove you to read through old posts to remove references to things you might have said like, “yesterday we were watching President Obama’s inauguration…” because cues like this will immediately clue your audience into the timeliness of your post. Even if you’ve taken the time to update your post, cues like that may confuse your reader and prompt them to move on to something they think is more timely.
Proofread your post
I am the first to admit that I am notoriously bad about proofreading. I love writing, but I’m guilty of almost always publishing first and proofreading later. (Sometimes much, much later.) Even if you’re good about proofreading, it never hurts to take a second, third or fourth read through.
As I’ve been proofreading my old blog posts I have been using the free Grammarly browser extension to help point out grammatical errors I’ve missed in previous read-throughs. It’s a real game-changer that I recommend for all bloggers!
There are many out there who believe that Google tends to reward longer content with better search engine rankings. Whether or not that’s true, we do know that they don’t like super short posts. The Yoast SEO Plugin for WordPress encourages all posts to be a minimum of 300 words. My recommendation as you update old blog posts is to add new content whenever possible. Maybe you can expand on your review of a product. Or perhaps you can add similar products or accessories that may be of interest to your readers.
Back when I was writing for About.com they had us editing a lot of older articles, and one of the things they asked us to do was to make lists longer. So, for example, if you once wrote a list of 5 Stores Where You Can Buy Shoes Online, you might go through and update that post so it now includes 10, 15, or even 20 different online shoe stores. Not only will doing this make your post more competitive with Google, but it will become an even better resource for your readers. Win-win.
Sprinkle keywords throughout your post
If you’re using the Yoast SEO Plugin, then chances are you’re already using at least one keyword (or keyword phrase) in each of your posts since the plugin pretty much demands that you do so. As you update old blog posts, however, you may want to sprinkle even more keywords throughout your post as this may help you rank for even more search terms. Basically: You never know what phrase people are searching for on Google, so you want to be prepared for all instances.
One easy way to find similar keywords is to use the (free) SERPs Keyword Research Database. You can input your current keyword – or any keyword – and it’ll give you a list of similar results, as well as how much search engine volume each phrase typically gets. Another keyword/SEO tool that I love is Keysearch.
Link to your other content
One way to help convince Google you’re an authority in whatever topic you blog about is to interlink your posts together whenever possible. I’ve done it throughout this post, linking to things like the Grammarly review I wrote or my Pinfinite Growth review. (<— see what I did there?!) Whenever you can, you should always take the time to link your posts in a way that is natural. Thus, as you go back through to update old blog posts, you should go back through and link to your new posts from some of your old posts and link to your old posts from your new posts.
Update and/or add photos and videos
Photos and videos add interest to a post, but the downside, especially for photos, is that they can quickly look dated. If there’s a post that’s doing particularly well for you, take some time to add updated photos. Or, if you’ve made a video that relates to your post, go ahead and embed that in the post. Anything you can do to make your post more robust is great!
Add pinnable images
The types of images that do the best on Pinterest change pretty frequently, which means that updating the pinnable images should be on your must-do list anytime you update old blog posts. Currently, long and skinny images are favored on Pinterest (the Social Warfare plugin recommends creating pins that are 735p x 1100p), though it wasn’t all that long ago that square images ruled.
In addition to ensuring that you have a fab pinnable image attached to your post, be sure to update the description for the pin to include your keywords for the post.
Install the Yoast SEO Plugin & update accordingly
I’ve mentioned it twice already, but if you’re using WordPress then you must install the Yoast SEO Plugin. It’s FREE (and you really don’t need to pay for the upgraded version) and oh-so-powerful. You can use Yoast to update the metadata for your post, AKA the little snippet that shows up in search engine results. You can write an SEO-friendly title that WON’T show up at the top of your blog post as it’s solely for search engine optimization. While the Yoast SEO Plugin can’t guarantee that you’ll receive stellar search engine ranking, it certainly doesn’t hurt anything and it serves as a wonderful guide for things you should look to include and improve upon in each post.
Delete and/or respond to old comments
Yes, ideally as bloggers we would all respond to comments as they roll in each day. But sometimes life gets in the way and things get lost in the shuffle. As you’re going through and updating old blog posts, be sure to take a look at the comments section for each post and either delete the inevitable spammy comment that will have made it through your filter, or respond to comments that need an answer.
Republish your old blog posts
Let’s say that two years ago you wrote a post about Valentine’s Day gifts for your best friend, but you haven’t touched that post since you first hit publish. Now, let’s say that Valentine’s Day is on the horizon again and you remember you have that post out there, so you go through and update your old post following all of the tips above. Now, if you want to get that post back out in front of people all you have to do is change the date and hit “publish” again. Just like that, this old post will be as good as new again and will be the first post that appears on your blog.
HOWEVER, and this is a big HOWEVER, your ability to do this depends entirely on your blog’s permalink structure. If you are currently using a permalink structure that includes the date, you will be unable to quickly republish a post as WordPress will essentially delete your old post to republish it on the new date. (This will do crazy things like break all of your pins until you set up a 301 redirect.)
Please only republish blog posts if you are using the “Post Name” permalink structure.
If you want to change your permalink structure to make this possible, please read this post from Yoast on how to change your permalink structure. They do a great job of explaining the process, although it’s not particularly easy as you will need to be able to update the .htaccess file on your server and that file can only be accessed via FTP. If all of that was Greek to you, I highly recommend asking someone to help you out. Playing with the .htaccess file can seriously break your site, so please don’t do anything too adventurous!
Share your posts on social media
If you’ve taken all of this time to update your old blog posts, the final thing do is schedule some new social media shares! In an ideal world, Google would send us all search engine love, but since that’s not always the case I highly recommend re-pinning your posts, Tweeting, posting on Facebook, etc. Add your newly refreshed blog posts to an aggregator like Buffer or Missinglettr and schedule even more pins using Tailwind.
Basically, treat your newly updated blog post like it’s a brand new blog post and promote the heck out of it.
Do Tell: Do you ever take the time to update old blog posts?