If you’ve been blogging for awhile, you likely have a treasure trove of posts waiting to be discovered by new eyes – and rediscovered by you.
Scott Gingrich and I share a client and he recently suggested she update some of her old posts. He wants her to have one thorough, comprehensive piece of content that covers each of the main topic areas she helps people with in her business.
I thought this was a great idea! As we’ve been working on doing this for her, I’ve been thinking about why and how we can all update older posts on our site.
3 reasons to update an old blog post
- Things have changed
Are there facts or recommendations in the post that no longer ring true? You definitely want to correct or update these, so your posts remain relevant and helpful over time (which also brings up the question, should you date your blog?)
You may also want to update any outdated references to current events, but consider preserving them – and your blog – as a sort of time capsule in the evolution of your business.
- You know more and you’re a better writer
Even if the information is still technically correct, your own views and opinions will evolve as you advance in your business. You’ll want your blog to reflect that, because you never know where someone will land to get their first impression of you and your business.
Blogging is a skill like any other. It can be learned and, with practice, mastered. Even stepping away for a few moments as you’re drafting a post gives you a fresh perspective and helps you spot typos and places where the reader may stumble. Imagine what you’ll find after a few months or years!
- People need the information
Has your post continued to gain attention (people reading and sharing it), even as you’ve added newer posts to the site? This is a clear sign that there is still interest in the topic.
Here’s an example from Content Marketing Institute, where they update and republish old posts as part of their Back By Popular Demand series:
Now if this is the only reason you’re considering this post and the other two reasons don’t apply, consider promoting the post again rather than changing it. Trust me – you won’t be bothering anyone with the repetition. Your social media connections may or may not have even seen the link the first time you shared.
6 ways to update an old blog post
- Swap out some of the blog post elements, such as the title (I like to test my titles for emotional value and general marketing effectiveness) or image. This is something Denise Wakeman suggests when you repurpose your content, i.e., on your LinkedIn blog, Medium, or as a Facebook note (the last two are things I learned about from Denise’s 7-Day Visibility Challenge). Also take a fresh look at the post’s call to action, especially if the blog post author no longer works for your business.
- Support your original premise with research or data. Often this will be research you’ve curated from other trusted sources, but you can also create your own. According to Andy Crestodina, original research is the most powerful and effective form of content for many reasons, and he calls research-based content the secret to more traffic. Even if you have no numerical data, you can offer anecdotal statements about your client base or industry (e.g., many of my clients/colleagues tell me…).
- Incorporate other expert opinions by interviewing or quoting influential leaders in your field. This will add credibility and colour to your post, and could also help you make valuable connections and gain exposure to a new audience.
- Curate and summarize the best blog posts about the topic. Similar to #3, this will enhance both your content and your relationships with other experts in your field. Remember that the goal here is to spotlight, not copy, this content.
- Build structure into the post. Did you write your original post as a stream of consciousness or “brain dump,” without any thought to how the ideas flowed together? Do you define, introduce and conclude each topic, or do you expect your reader to connect the dots? Be sure your post includes a thoughtful introduction and conclusion, along with sub-headings and/or lists that break up the text.
- Combine several posts. Though this is the exact opposite of what I recommend when you find a post getting too long or unfocused, you may find that over the years you’ve written several pieces about the same topic. Try bringing those together into one longer article, updating where needed to match the evolution of your knowledge and experience. This composite post can become a core, evergreen piece of content for your website, just as Scott described above.
When you’re planning your future blog posts, look to the past for content you can update and enhance. Chances are, you’ll find valuable information your audience needs to hear again, and a compelling message that will draw in new readers.