Updating your blog regularly is important; blogs that are updated regularly receive so much more traffic than those that are updated only occasionally that it simply doesn’t make sense to leave your blog unattended.
But what about old blog posts? How much do you have to do to keep them updated?
Watch out for broken links.
If you use WordPress, you could install the Broken Link Remover plugin, which automatically unlinks any broken links. We don’t see this as a solution, since it can leave sentences like “Read more about this solution or download it for Windows or Mac” sitting there looking weird, but people were discussing it with enthusiasm at WordCamp.
The Broken Link Checker lets you know when links are broken so you can replace them with a better resource or remove the sentence. We’re testing it at our lab site, FreshPlans, and will let you know how it works for us.
If you’re not on WordPress, consider Linkchecker or Webmaster Toolkit’s online link checker, or a similar tool from SearchBliss. Both caught a broken link for me, but SearchBliss also caught a 301 redirect, so I could update it as well.
Set aside some time for updates.
Granted, it takes time you could be spending writing new posts, but it’s worth doing for posts that still bring traffic to your website. At our lab site, which caters to teachers, last year’s posts on Pirate Classroom Themes and Rock’n’Roll Classroom Themes are both seeing lots of traffic right now. I went in and added some new resources, replaced some items for which there were better options, and removed a photo of an item that’s no longer available.
Here at Haden Interactive’s blog, which is about a field that changes frequently, I try to make sure everything stays up to date — but I know it’s going to take me a while to get all new images for posts on Google Analytics, now that GA has changed its interface.
When you know about a change, it makes sense to track down posts affected by that change. Otherwise, you can simply go back to last year’s post every day, thus ensuring that nothing is more than a year out of date, or you can work your way through the most popular ones.
Think carefully about deleting old posts.
In general, old content that gets updated is good stuff, from the SEO point of view. More content is better, your old posts may have incoming links, and if it’s bringing you traffic, then it’s paying its virtual rent.
However, having some old poor quality posts hanging around your website can do you harm. If you used to generate lots of posts just to make your site larger, or you went through a spell of thinking that “transparency” required levels of self-disclosure which you now regret, then you might want to do some pruning.
Consider rehabilitating old posts rather than just deleting them, if you can. If you really have some bad stuff in the blog’s past, though — especially duplicate content or content-free keyword stuffing — you should get rid of it for the sake of your site’s rankings.
Upcycling your old blog posts
One blogger says you should delete posts in which you predicted something incorrectly, but it seems to me that posts which have become obsolete or even humorous because of the timeliness of the topic are great candidates for upcycling.
Your post in 2009 claiming that Twitter was a passing fad and would be gone by the end of the decade? Go back to it and write about how wrong you were. Self-deprecation is popular in blogs, and you get a chance to look again at the factors that made you say so at the time.
You can even completely rewrite your post if you want to. Don’t change your title or your URL so you won’t confuse search engines or get visitors clicking through to an error message, but you can certainly change your Photoshop CS3 tips to make them work for CS5.
Upcycling your obsolete blog posts can be a relatively quick way to produce valuable newish content.
Valuable tips here. Especially good to know that freshening a post is actually beneficial. Now that I’ve installed the WordPress SEO plugin, which is fantastic and found on a tip from Rebecca Haden, I’ve been doing quite a bit of updating and post “rehabilitation.” WP SEO holds your hand while you improve the SEO characteristics of a post, something like what blog rating (e.g., Website Grader) does for your whole site.