and ensure all your blog posts stay evergreen
If you’re anything like me, you’re always busy.
So busy you sometimes realise you’ve been holding in a wee for two hours.
So busy your idea of a good lunch is a second bowl of cereal.
So busy your to-do list of non-essential maintenance jobs is longer than a George RR Martin novel.
And all this busyness means you often look at your old blog posts and cringe with embarrassment.
You know they’re looking a little dusty and dated. You’re sure the passage of time means they’re heaving with broken links, and possibly, facts that are no longer factual.
That’s why I’m going to give you six quick tips on how to spruce up your old blog posts – easily and efficiently.
(Don’t forget to read the important Spring Clean rules at the bottom of this post).
A quick note on evergreen content
Evergreen content is long-lasting, high quality content in your blog archive that keeps driving traffic, encouraging social sharing and increasing engagement long after it was written. Or as Moz puts it, delivers ‘continued, sustained success’.
You see, while some blogs deliver a brief spike of interest,
evergreen content delivers continued growth in links, traffic and general reader love over time.
As an example, here’s a post I wrote a few years ago explaining copy decks. Even now it keeps delivering eyeballs month after month. (It also ranks pretty highly for the term copy deck. Try it in Google and you’ll see.)
Good examples of potentially evergreen content include:
- Yearly posts that can be updated: For example: The 2014 guide to copywriting.
- ‘How to’ posts: For example: Press releases: an idiots guide.
- History posts: For example: The History of Search Engine Optimisation.
But it’s kind of hard to sit down and say, “I’m going to write a piece of evergreen content”.
And only time will tell if a post is going to be a long-term success.
So I just write what I write, and look at my analytics down the track to see which posts are proving popular. Then I do my best to edit them into evergreen pieces.
Or as I put it, give them a spring clean.
Blog Post Spring Clean Step 1: Find
I have more than 200 posts on my site, so setting out to spring-clean them all would be a momentous task. Instead I cherry pick one or two to update when I have time.
I do this in a few different ways:
- I check Google Analytics for the posts getting the most views and the longest time on page (because that means folk are actually reading them, right?)
- I use the Tweetly WordPress plugin to retweet selected old posts each day. When I see one getting more interaction (these days Twitter kindly makes your popular posts a little larger) I put it on my Spring Clean List – just to double check it’s in mint condition.
- I check the Popular Post area on my site (controlled by the number of Facebook likes) and ensure they’re all in tip-top shape.
- I try to keep tabs on the posts on my site I link to most often.
- I seek out the oldest and most embarrassing posts and either scrap them or rewrite them.
Blog Post Spring Clean Step 2: Clean up
When I’ve chosen the blog post I’m going to spring-clean, I check to make sure:
- All the links are working and click through to where I expect them to.
- All external links open in a new window. (Just add target=”_blank” to your link code.)
- All facts are still accurate. For example, in this post I recently had to update the information about the number of characters in a title tag.
- All references are up-to-date. Showing a chart from 2010 isn’t really that interesting in 2014. Around 2 years old is my absolute limit.
- All images are showing.
- There are no typos (it’s amazing what you discover years later!). If you edit the content in any way get it re-proofread.
Blog Post Spring Clean Step 3: Format
- Using bold to make key points stand out (sparingly).
- Using italics to highlight key elements (sparingly).
- Using the quotation function (in WordPress) for quotes.
- Adding sub-headers to signpost content.
- Using bullets to break up complex concepts, or for lists.
- Reducing the length of paragraphs to make them more digestible.
- Spacing out content to give the reader some room to breath (all hail white space).
Blog Post Spring Clean Step 4: Modernise
Some of my posts are around four years old, and the interwebs has moved on a pace since then, so the next step is to modernise by doing things such as:
- Reviewing the title tag and meta description to ensure they’re unique, engaging and the right length.
- Ensuring I’ve included internal links to other useful posts.
- Possibly changing the article headline to make it more useful and engaging.
Blog Post Spring Clean Step 5: Snazzify
When I started out, lots of today’s cool apps didn’t exist (or I wasn’t aware of them). so some of my posts look a little lacklustre. At the snazzify stage I add a few bells and whistles such as:
- Adding a Click to Tweet statement for easy social sharing.
- Using Canva or Picmonkey to create some sexy new images.
- Breaking up the content with additional images so it’s not all text, text, text.
- Creating and embedding a video made with Powtoon.
Blog Post Spring Clean Step 6: Be brutal
You can follow step 1 in reverse to find the worst performing posts and identify ones that just aren’t worth saving.
Toon Tip: Read the Important Spring Clean Rules below before you remove ANYTHING!
Be brave and remove old posts that are:
- From your early days, and clearly show you hadn’t a clue what you were talking about.
- Really thin. Remember that post you wrote just for the sake of writing a post? Trash it. Don’t keep blog posts that don’t add any value to the universe.
- Time-sensitive or seasonal posts, such as old competitions.
!! IMPORTANT SPRING CLEANING RULES !!
When you’re spring-cleaning your blogs posts, don’t forget these important rules:
- Never, ever delete a post. If you have a post that’s so bad it’s beyond all hope, don’t get rid of it. Instead, redirect it (using a 301 redirect) to another page so you don’t lose ‘link juice.’
- Never edit the URL. You can edit the body copy of your article to your heart’s content, but don’t change the URL. Someone, somewhere may be linking to it and you’ll lose that link juice (see above).
- Add a ‘Last updated on’ date. If you display the date of your blog post at the top (and you should), it’s a good idea to add a little statement telling the user when you’ve last updated it and roughly what you changed. Here’s an example:
So there you go. My guide to updating your blog posts—a great way of upcycling old content. (And a wonderful option if you’re struggling to think of a new post this week.)
Even if you just give one post a month a mini-makeover, you’ll be glad you did. Oh, and if you liked this article, please share it:
Over to you
Do you regularly update your old blog posts? Are there any tips you think I’ve missed? Please comment below.
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