Lancaster is a small city, but it has quite the arts and culture scene. If you take a walk downtown, you’re bound to stumble into some sort of shop that sells upcycled or recycled wares. I’ve seen wallets made from old rubber tires or yoga mats. I’ve seen jewelry made from old Scrabble tiles and other game pieces. Just about anything that we used to throw away can be turned into something new and useful.
The same can be said for some of our old blog posts. As someone who pays attention to analytics, I like to dig in and see which of my older posts continue to do well. While most of my posts have a relatively short shelf life of a few days, with a trickle of traffic over time, there are a few posts that just continue to perform well no matter how old they are. This is a function of a number of things, including a title that matches well with search engine terms, as well as strong content that people want.
The problem is that while the basic content of a post might be strong, the context can often be dated. This was the case with a post I wrote about four years ago offering tips on how to promote events via social media. The tips were strong, and still stood up, but they were couched within the context of an old event. Plus, the social media landscape has changed drastically over the past few years, with new tools at our disposal.
So while I knew this post still did very well, I was concerned about outdated material. I didn’t want people visiting my blog to get old information. I wanted it fresh and useful. What to do? I decided on a plan that would allow me to capitalize on the old material and while still making it new and fresh.
Identify strong older posts
Take a look at your analytics and see which of your older posts consistently do well in terms of traffic. The life cycle of all of your posts will be different, but some will have that long tail, and show up consistently in search engine results despite their age. Such was the case with a post I wrote back in 201o titled “12 Tips on Promoting Events via Social Media.” Clearly a lot of people are searching for how to use social media to promote their own events, so I got a lot of traffic. In fact, with each passing year, the traffic for that post increased, rather than decreased. As mentioned earlier, I felt the context (and a bit of the content) was a bit dated, and I knew that there was newer information that would make the post even stronger and more helpful, so I decided this was a good candidate for an update.
Rewrite them to make them fresh
The next step is to rewrite the post and freshen it up. In this case, I deleted any dated references to the event I used as an example in the original post. I also made sure that my information was correct and up to date. Has anything changed since you last wrote your post? Do you have access to new information, new research, new tools, or anything else that makes the post more current? In this situation, there were some changes to how the old tools (like Twitter and Facebook) worked, as well as the creation of newer tools like Pinterest, Instagram, and hashtags. There was enough information to make it a very new post, while maintaining the integrity of the overall theme. I also re-examined my 12 points, deleted some, combined others, and added a few. In the end, I had 11 tips, rather than 12.
Use a similar title
With that in mind, I wanted to make sure that the people who were finding the old post via search engines would also be able to find the newer post in the same way, and using the same keywords and search terms. I had to modify the title just a bit to account for the change in the number of tips, and then just made another minor wording change, calling it, “11 Tips on Promoting Events Using Social Media.” The new title was similar enough to get the same SEO action and benefits, after all it was the search engines driving most of the traffic to that old post. I didn’t want to lose that advantage. I want to make sure the new post is just as relevant, if not more so, when it comes to searches.
Redirect the old posts
Now that you have your new post ready, you don’t want to cause confusion for either readers or search engines. You don’t want to split your traffic between that new post, and the older, more established, yet out of date, post. The idea is to drive traffic solely to the new post. But how best to do that? I’m not a big fan of deleting old posts. They still might resurface in search results, plus you lose any inbound links you may have gotten for the posts. In the end, I decided to keep the post on the site, and then set up a 301 permanent redirect from the old post to the new. Some CMS’s have this ability built in, but i use a WordPress plugin called Quick Page Post Redirect. This means that anyone who clicks through to the old post via an inbound link or search engine result, will automatically get redirected, or forwarded, to the new post. Pretty simple.
The end result of all of this is that I now have a more up to date, fresher post that is performing even better than the previous post. Now I’m going to look a bit more closely at my analytics and see if I have any other older posts that could stand to be updated.
Have you ever updated or rewritten an old post? What steps did you take?
4 Tips on Turning Old Blog Posts into Fresh Content