Maintaining Your Blog – What to Do with Old Blog Posts?
How to maintain your blog’s old posts. Learn to audit your blog, find outdated content, and determine whether to update, repurpose, or delete old posts.
A blog is an important asset for your business. In a previous article, we discussed why your business should have one. Here in this article, I want to discuss how to properly maintain your blog by determining what you should do with your old blog posts.
Why You Need to Maintain Old Blog Posts
First things first. Blog posts DO become old and outdated. Eventually, you’re going to need to do something about them.
Many businesses with blogs simply publish content on their blog and forget about it. They have the mentality that as long as they’re posting new stuff, everything is good.
But blog posts are not set and forget. Unfortunately, ignoring your old posts is a bad practice and can be risky for your business. Poorly maintained content on your blog can actually hurt your business. Here are some reasons why:
- Brand image: Imagine a potential customer reading an old, outdated article on your blog. This customer is most likely interested in learning about whatever topic your article is titled, but can’t because it’s filled with old and outdated information. The advice given in this article might be so outdated, that it no longer even applies. What image does this give your customer about you and your business?
- Loss of Sales: An outdated blog post will not only give your business a bad image, but also cost you potential sales. Readers are not going to purchase from a source that provides old, outdated information. They want a business that knows what they’re talking about and someone that is trustworthy.
- Liability: In certain cases, you may even be held legally liable for the false information published on your blog.
- Poor SEO & Loss of Organic Traffic: Old and outdated blog content will not rank well on search engines and you’ll be missing out on the opportunity of driving new traffic to your business. In fact, having poor content on your blog can actually hurt your site’s overall SEO efforts.
BOTTOM LINE: It is important that you keep your existing blog posts in check. A blog requires a lot of work and maintaining your existing posts is a part of that. Your posts are not a set and forget kind of thing.
How to Go About Maintaining your Blog
Now that you understand why it’s so important to keep your posts maintained, let’s talk about how we go about doing this.
Perform Timely Reoccurring Audits of Your Posts
The first step is to review your blog. You’ll want to do this on a regular basis. I would recommend at least once a month.
However, this does depend on the subject matter of your blog posts and how quickly they tend to become outdated.
For example, if you’re blogging about gardening advice, your articles are more likely to remain relevant than say, if you’re blogging about Search Engine Optimization (which tends to change rather quickly).
Either way, the good news is that most posts are typically relevant for quite some time. So even if you need to check them once a month, you most likely won’t need to do anything with a majority of them.
BOTTOM LINE: The important message here is to regularly audit your posts (preferably on a monthly basis) and find the ones that do become outdated or irrelevant.
Determining What to Do with an Outdated Post
Eventually when performing your audits, you’re going to find a post that is outdated on your blog. You’ll need to determine what you should do with this post. You can either update it, repurpose it, or delete it. Here’s a few things to help you decide which option is best:
Check Your Analytics
The first step is to analyze your post’s analytics. Check if this post has received a lot of traffic throughout its lifetime. If it has, then it’s a good candidate to keep and either update or repurpose, depending upon the topic. If it hasn’t, then you may want to flag this for deletion.
Check for Incoming Links
Next, you’ll want to see if there is anyone linking to this post. Use a good backlink checker to analyze this. You’d be surprised at what you find. There may be several good sites out there that are linking to it. This is great and means that someone has found your post useful enough to link to. Natural backlinks like this are hard to come across and you’ll want to save posts with these valuable links! Always edit or repurpose if you find good backlinks.
Check for Duplicate Topics Within Your Blog
Next, you’ll want to see if you have any duplicate or very similar topics within your blog. For example, say you just wrote an article on your gardening blog titled “How to Plant a Tomato Plant” and then remembered the article you wrote 3 years ago titled “5 Tips for Planting a Tomato Plant”. Although both articles may still be relevant with good advice, you still have 2 separate articles that basically cover the same topic. You should avoid this and flag one of them for deletion.
Check the Relevancy of Your Post’s Topic
Most importantly, you’ll need to check if the post’s topic is still relevant. In other words, will your readers still be interested in what the post is about. Certain topics have a short life span and may no longer be applicable. Ultimately, you want every post on your blog to be relevant and of value to your readers. If it is not, then flag for deletion.
For posts that need deletion, the process is simple. Simply delete the post, removing it from your blog. It's super easy to do, yet you should always delete sparingly and try to update or repurpose as many posts as you can. Only delete posts that are irretrievably wrong, outdated, and damaging to your brand.
301 Redirect Where Possible
Also if possible, you can 301 redirect your deleted post’s URL to a relevant one. For example, in the case of the duplicate tomato article example I mentioned earlier, you can delete one of the articles and 301 redirect it to the other one. This is beneficial for both search engines and your readers as it tells them you've permanently moved your deleted post to this new URL and that this is the official article they should now read.
BOTTOM LINE: In general, you always want to save your posts and repurpose them. Only delete a post when absolutely necessary.
Update or Repurpose Posts
For posts that can be saved (and a good majority of outdated posts on your blog should be), you’ll need to either update or repurpose them.
For posts that need updating, you’ll need to re-edit the content to make sure it is relevant and timely once again. Look for references to public figures, businesses, technologies, cultural & political trends, dates, and anything else that might be outdated. Also review your post’s SEO and add newly relevant keywords where possible.
After you update your post, make sure the post’s publish date is also updated or that you mention the date the post has been updated on. Don’t be afraid to treat this old content like new. After all, you don’t want readers to see your original publish date and think that it hasn’t been updated since then:
Look at the publish dates on these results? Which one are you more likely to read? More current dates psychologically convey more trustworthiness than older ones.
Posts that need to be repurposed are ones that are no longer relevant, yet can be recycled to fit a new purpose. These will most likely require a URL change as well.
For example, a long time ago it used to be recommended to submit your website to online directories for SEO purposes. After a Google update, sites got penalized and it would actually hurt your website's rankings. So basically this was no longer considered a good idea. If you have an old article that's recommending to submit your site to online directories, then you'll want to repurpose it with a new article on why you shouldn't submit to online directories. Both articles are related in topic, yet you're repurposing the post with new, fresh information.
Rewrite these articles into something new and fresh. If possible, choose a topic that is evergreen. You’ll most likely need to change the post’s URL, so remember to 301 redirect the old one to the new one.
Maintaining your blog posts does require a lot of work, but it is important and worthwhile to do so. You need to keep your content fresh and up to date. Regularly audit your blog and weed out the old posts. Always try to update or repurpose them, but delete the really bad ones. Doing so will build trust and authority for your blog and your business.