I looked back on a few of our old posts a few months ago and proceeded to palm the crap out of my face. It was embarrassing!
Not only was it embarrassing, but a lot of the information was irrelevant, inaccurate, and out of date.
The crazy part about old blog posts for most people is that they get a lot of traffic. We have about 20 posts on this blog that bring in 100’s of visits every day, and lots of them are a year or more old.
For us, it is imperative that we update our posts as the industry changes in our quest to be an authority in the industry.
Rewriting Your Old Posts
The first thing you need to do is read your post and digest it. Think about your post. Ask yourself these questions:
- Does the old blog post make sense?
- Is the post up to date?
- Are the facts still relevant within the old blog post?
- Have I gotten better at my writing since then?
- Can it be improved upon?
If any of the above questions are true, then it is time to rewrite your post.
Next you need to decide weather or not the post needs to be partially rewritten, or just change some facts.
If it needs to be partially rewritten I suggest that you start by copying the post into an external editor such as Microsoft Word. Identify the parts that need to be deleted and delete them. Notate by using ******’s or some other identifiable symbol which sections you deleted. Then go back and rewrite those parts.
Along the way scan your post for any signs of bad grammar or spelling. If it can be improved upon in any way now is the time to do it.
When you are done writing your post you might want to insert an alert at the bottom along the lines of:
A word on brand integrity. It is a very good idea to do a normal audit of your posts to check for accuracy and relevancy. Think about your blog on the web. Your blog is indexed in search engines and has 1000’s of links pointing to it. Ideally it is getting at least a few hundred visits every day. Think about the brand implications that might happen as a result of having blog posts floating around with stale, irrelevant, or inaccurate information floating around. Having outdated blog posts with your brands name on it will eventually start to cost you money. Word of mouth will spread that you don’t keep your blog updated and the information is bogus and you will lose readers which for a lot of people equals cold hard cash.
Should I Delete My Old Posts?
There are some people that are of the opinion that posts should never be deleted, I am on of them. Some people believe that a post should be deleted if majority of the information in the post is no longer accurate.
For instance, lets say a piece of news came out today that said “Matt Cutts Resigns as Head of SPAM” and we write a blog post about it. A week later we find out that this was just a hoax and is totally bogus. This is an extreme example but you could do one of three things.
- You could delete the post, and 301 the URL to somewhere else on your blog
- You could rewrite the post and focus on the fact that it was a hoax
- You could put up an alert at the top of the blog that says something like:
Ethically it is also very important to add an alert at the top of the blog post. Readers will get skittish if you go around changing information on them. A newspaper couldn’t get away with this due to industry standards and their own set of ethics. It is
To Change the Date, or Not?
There are 2 schools of thought when it comes to talking about the date of your post:
- A “fresh” post might send a “frequently updated” signal to Google which has been shown to benefit a sites overall authority
- “Old” posts show that the post has history. Over time it also shows that a particular post has a lot of engagement an interest (or not)
That said, when you are finished updating your post and are ready to republish, you are going to have to decide on weather or not you are going to publish it using today’s date or the original date. The disadvantage of posting the new post using today’s date is the fact that if you have comments in-tact, the dates will not line up and it might confuse your readers.
In my opinion, it is best to keep the date in tact for the reasons made above.
Discussing this with my colleague Antonino, he mentioned that it might be a good idea to update your sitemap to reflect the last updated parameter which may help it get crawled again.
Finally, make sure you don’t change the URL structure of your post. This might seem like obvious advice to most, but wanted to say it anyway.
Squeezing the Juice
One of the best ways to get the most juice out of your newly written blog post is to share it like it is new.
An example Tweet / share along the lines of: “Updated: How to XYZ in 96 Steps for 2014” or something like that.
If you’ve been gathering an email list you can email the update to your subscribers, and send a specific update to anyone who has commented on the original post.
Once you’ve re-shared your post out to social networks, check your backlink portfolio for any links that point to your page. If there are any blogs that are linking to your post you might want to let them know that your post has been updated because they might want to let there followers know as well.
Personally, I’ve done this with several posts and have only had positive results i.e. nothing bad happened. I’m going to start to do an audit every 3 months or so on older posts to check for facts and relevancy so that there are no stale posts with inaccurate information floating around the web with my name on it.