Do you have a blog on your website, or perhaps other types of content such as a knowledge base or a series of articles? If the answer is yes and you’ve been creating content regularly for a year or more, you’ve probably built up a good body of work, which is great. Your website content can inform, inspire and entertain your customers – encouraging them to shop with you, ask you for help, and return to you time and time again. Quality, regular content fosters feelings of trust and reliability, and it’s important to keep going with that.
However, while you’re constantly creating new content, it’s a good idea to occasionally look back at your older content and see what you can do to optimise it. If you haven’t checked on the blog posts in your archives recently, you don’t know what they are actually doing for you, if anything. Are they gathering dust and stagnating at zero views, or do they bring a regular trickle of visitors to your site through organic search results or referral links? How can you make these old blog posts work harder for you?
When Does A Blog Post Stop Being Useful?
Let’s take a look at the lifetime of a blog post. It’s born in your mind when you first get the idea, and then it grows as you write it, and flourishes when you upload it and promote it. You might share it on social media a few times, include it in your email newsletter, or manage to get some backlinks to it. And then what? Does it continue to work for you well into its old age, or does it wither and die? The lifespan of a blog post doesn’t necessarily come to an end once you stop paying attention to it – and in the best case scenario, it won’t.
The best way to find out if a blog post is still performing is to take a look at your Google Analytics. Go to Behaviour > Site Content > All pages and start by looking at the last week or two. For example, when I look at SilverDisc’s Analytics, I can see that the most popular blog post from the past seven days is Nicola’s post “Website Headers and Footers - Why they are important and what to include in them”, which had 55 pageviews. This blog post was written in 2013 but the information is still relevant today. By clicking on this blog post in the list and selecting source/medium as a secondary dimension, I can see that most of the visits to this page are coming from Google organic search results, with a couple from Yahoo and Bing. So despite being four years old, this post is still bringing in traffic.
You can also use Analytics to check on a specific blog post, by entering part of the URL (the bit after the .co.uk or .com) into the search bar on the same page. You might have to increase the date range in order to see any data. For example, my blog post “Ten Years of Twitter” was uploaded on 21st March 2016, but the graph in Analytics shows me that views for this post tailed off after less than a month, and it hasn’t had any views since. This is because that post was time sensitive, detailing changes Twitter had made up until 2015, and the plans the social network had for the future – which are either no longer relevant or have already been put into action.
Evergreen vs. Time Sensitive Content
This journey into Analytics demonstrates that how a blog post continues to perform over the months or years after its upload can depend on what kind of blog post it is. For example, some blog posts will be time sensitive, such as posts about upcoming events or new product releases. Others will be evergreen content, which means they will remain relevant over a long period of time. Take the website for a restaurant as an example. Time sensitive content may be a blog post about the five best steak restaurants in London – this is time sensitive because the restaurants might close down or drop their standards over the years. An example of evergreen content would be a blog post advising readers on how to choose the right restaurant for their work event. It could give people some ideas for how they can accommodate the needs of everybody in the party, and choose an appropriate setting for a work gathering. This kind of information isn’t likely to go out of date.
Editing and Optimising Blog Posts
Now that we know how well – or not – our old blog posts are performing, what can we do with this information? First, you’ll need to decide which blog posts to optimise. There might be something happening in the news right now that you have previously written a blog post about. Or you might choose a blog post that seems to still be getting traffic but that could benefit from more current information being added to it. This may be particularly relevant if you operate in the technology sector, where products and features are always changing and it’s important to keep up with the latest innovations. Remember, older blog posts are more likely to be closer to the top of Google’s search results than newer posts, making it a good idea to take care of your higher ranking, older blog posts to ensure they are relevant. This means that the content you want people to see will be further up the rankings than if you were to write a brand new blog post, and when people do click on those links in the search results, they are more likely to stick around on your website if the content is fresh and current, compared to if it is out of date.
When it comes to editing your blog posts, don’t just think in terms of what is factually correct. Yes, you may need to correct or add some things, but you should also consider whether your opinion on something has changed, and whether your customers’ needs have changed. It may be that you need to approach your subject from a different angle. You should also have a look at your blog posts from an SEO point of view, too. It may be that you need to do some more keyword research and amend your titles and content as appropriate to accommodate new search terms, because search trends have changed since you wrote the post.
Edit Or Rewrite?
You may find that a blog post is completely out of date and that there isn’t really anything salvageable in your original text. In this situation, you might want to write a brand new blog post addressing the new state of affairs, if you haven’t already. For example, you might have written a blog post about how to use a piece of software, but that software has since had a complete design overhaul. In this situation it would be a good idea to write a new blog post and then put a note at the top of the old blog post saying that a more up to date article is available, and providing a link to the new post. This is much better than removing the old blog post completely. Though this might make sense at first because the article is no longer relevant, don’t forget that you would have to redirect the old URL to the new one to keep all your links intact. Plus, keeping both blog posts shows that you were an expert in the topic before, you’re still an expert at it now, and you always keep up to date with the latest trends and changes in the industry.
Bringing a Blog Post Back Into the Spotlight
You could change the published date on your blog post to bring it to the top of your listings so that people can see it as if it’s a brand new blog post. It’s a good idea to make a note on the post saying when the post was originally written, when it was updated, and why or what information has been added.
Once you’ve edited a blog post, it’s time to promote it again – whether that’s on social media, through email marketing, or elsewhere.
And don’t forget about your evergreen content, too. It might be that you have some blog posts that have stood the test of time and don’t need any updating at all. Just because this content is old, doesn’t mean it should be forgotten about in the depths of your website. Promoting this older content again can introduce it to some new pairs of eyes – new readers of your blog might not have seen your older posts, but they could get a lot of value out of them if you share them on social media for everyone to see. And again, this shows your audience the breadth of your expertise, provides them with useful information, and could make them more likely to visit your website in the future and convert with you.
Refreshing and optimising your old blog posts can be a quick and easy way of using your website content to your advantage, particularly if you’re short on time to create new content. However, that isn’t an excuse to stop writing new blog posts – make sure you strike a good balance between the two!