What to do with old blog posts

After you’ve been publishing to your blog for a while, you will have built up a useful content bank, wonderful for SEO and for encouraging return visitors to your website. There will be a time, though, when it’s necessary to audit your old blog posts, to see what’s working and what’s no longer relevant.

Culling and improving old blog posts is a great opportunity for you to refresh your content, and share it with a new audience. In this article, I’ll share how to decide what’s the best action for your old blog content, and what you should do next.

Reviewing old blog posts

The first step is to take a good look through your older posts and decide whether you actually think they should be there. Read through them – do they inspire you? Are they useful, or boring? Have they got much engagement?

I’ve seen a lot of posts about looking at this through an SEO eye. The advice seems to be that anything that doesn’t rank well or hit the mark statistically should be revised or culled. While that can be kind of true, in many cases, it isn’t. Because there are probably some very good reasons why that particular post hasn’t ranked, and it might not be anything to do with it being an awful post. It might simply be that you haven’t promoted it well enough – more on that later!

My advice is to look at it from a reader’s perspective, and then, if you think it’s worthy, think about other fixes – it might be more to do with how it’s set up, meta tags, images and such. So don’t dismiss a potentially great post just because it hasn’t ranked well.

Delete or improve?

When I did this exercise recently, I made a list of all of my old blog post, and then decided for each on whether it should be deleted or improved (or just left untouched). Because I’m a bit of a geek, I colour coded mine on a spreadsheet, but you could simply letter each one (d=delete, r=revise) so that you can see which ones need action.

Will deleting blog posts cause any damage? I’ve heard a lot of people fretting over this – and in my honest opinion, there’s no need. However, there might be a little bit of prep work, depending on how you’ve set up your blog posts, perhaps the biggest one being internal links. You see, if you’ve created links from one blog post to another, then obviously some of those links may end up leading nowhere if you’ve deleted the linked post. Of course, the simple thing to do is to find and remove those links, but if you’ve got a lot of articles, that might be a massive task. My advice is not to let it worry you too much – the worst thing that will happen is that your reader will get a ‘404’ response. I promise they won’t judge you for it.

Hopefully there won’t be too many posts that need deleting – but there might be a fair few that you can improve. If it’s an evergreen post, perhaps you can make it longer and add more relevant keywords. Maybe there are some outdated facts or opinions that you want to change. Or maybe you can create some cool graphics or infographics to illustrate your points. As you go through your posts, make notes of anything that comes to mind that you can use for later.

How to update (and improve) old blog posts

If you’ve identified some posts that need fixing, then you’ve probably already got an vague idea of what you should do to improve them. Maybe you downright cringed when you read them becuas they’re sooooo out of date. Or maybe you know more about that particular subject now, and just know that you can expand on it to make it much more useful.

Here are my thoughts on what you can look for:

Keywords – these are the words and phrases that will be indexed and get your article found on Google. If you already know what keywords you should be using, have a look how frequently they appear, and make sure they’re in all the places they need to be, including your subject headers.

Images – does your post image need updating? Can you add some cool new graphics to make the piece more interesting and help your readers understand your point? If you use Pinterest, can you add pinnable images that you can link to? And most importantly, do the images on your blog posts look uniform and fit in with your branding?

Revise the content – if the post is really short (link, below 500 words), then it’s going to be much more difficult for Google to rank it. Is there anything you can add to beef it up? According to the Google Gods, the sweet spot is around 3000 words to rank highly. Yeah, that’s a lot, but if you can hit around 1000 – 1500, then you’ve already increased your chances. Personally, I reckon 3000 words is a bit much in most cases (unless you’ve got a really in-depth subject), and people tend to lose interest if you drivel.

Promoting old blog posts

Sadly, the ‘build it and they will come’ philosophy doesn’twork well with blog posts. You still have some work to do after you have worked your magic on your posts to get people reading.

So when you’ve made your improvements and re-published – tell people about it!

·        Link the post across all of your social media.

·        Share snippets from it to make social posts – with or without images, and tell people they can read more on the actual article.

·        Create a Pinterest profile (Pinterest is a search engine in its own right).

·        Do a little video to tell people what it’s about, and post it to your stories.

·        Add a link to the bottom of your emails with a signature.

·        Share it to your mailing list.

If you need help or advice about blogging for your business, give me a shout. I’d be happy to help.