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Updating Old Posts On Your Blog

Today I spent a little time here on ProBlogger updating an old post that I wrote back in 2006 – Becoming a ProBlogger, a Story in Many Parts.

Why Update Old Blog Posts?

I know some bloggers don’t like to update old posts (they like to let them stand as a record of their thoughts at any given point in time) but I personally don’t have an issue with it at all and think it’s a worthwhile thing to do on a number of fronts:

1. Accuracy – there are some times when things you’ve written are simply not true – or cease to be true. Correcting mistakes or making updates to reflect new circumstances actually makes your blog more useful for readers surfing through your archives – which all goes to help improving your blog.

2. Change of Opinion – there are times when over time I change my opinion on different topics. While an old post that you no longer agree with might make interesting reading – it can also impact your reputation. Someone coming to that post won’t know you’ve changed your opinion and will assume that you still think what you once did unless they find something that points them to your new opinion. At times this can be quite damaging to your reputation.

3. Usefulness and Usability – sometimes information in old posts can simply become dated or even ‘broken’ (ie links no longer working as other sites die). Updating these posts with current information and fixing links (either by updating or deleting) makes your post more useful.

By no means am I arguing that bloggers update all of their old posts – but it does make sense to go back through key posts in your archives to do some updating – particularly those that continue to generate traffic over time.

How to Update Old Posts

There are a variety of ways of updating old posts:

1. Quick Fixes – in many circumstances it’s as simple as replacing a link, fixing a mistake etc. In these cases I rarely make a note of it being an updated post as I don’t think it really impacts readers to know that it has been changed.

2. Updates – you’ll see in the example above that I did two things. Firstly I added a number of paragraphs midway through the article. I made the subheading of that section quite clear that it was an update. Secondly I made a note early in the post saying that it had been updated. I wanted to do this at the top of the post to show readers that the information in it was still current. I didn’t want people to see the 2006 date and think it was not valid any more.

When you do these updates that are more than cosmetic (and where you think the information is important) – it can be worthwhile making a short post about it on your blog to indicate to current readers that the post is updated.

3. Reposting – on my photography blog I will regularly take old posts, update the information and then repost them with the current date. I can do this on that blog because the permalinks on that blog don’t include the date in them (as they do here on ProBlogger) and so reposting them doesn’t break the links.

4. New Posts – the last technique that I use is to write a new updated post and then link to it in an old post. I do this when the updated information is significant and warrants a completely new post. In these new posts you may wish to refer back to the old post (so readers can see how your ideas have developed). It is well worthwhile when writing a new post on a topic you’ve covered previously to add a link to the old post to direct readers to the new one so that they get the up to date information.

Do you ever go back through old blog posts and update them? How do you do it?

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. afas says:

    its needed. I also do that always. It comes when i need to update my opinion or my latest information about product or service.

  2. naruto says:

    I have many old posts and I think it will be time consuming very much. But I think this is helpful tips

  3. afas says:

    its needed. We can attract more people stay at our site if our content was good. :)

  4. Atle Iversen says:

    I guess it depends on what kind of blog you have.

    For a diary/journal, leaving old posts as they were will show “what you knew then”, as people has mentioned.

    For more knowledge-oriented sites like this where you try to help people with more “generic” information, you SHOULD update your old posts. If not, you should consider deleting posts that are no longer accurate or useful.

    But is it still a “blog” when you go back to edit old articles :-) ?

  5. Outlet says:

    I have problem with this topic. Some months ago I thougt somethink about somethink. But nowadays I think differently. Do you think that deleting the old posts is good idea or shoul I leave old posts at their place?

  6. I found this very helpful. Starting a new site, it’s important to build a solid foundation. Like most posts here on Problogger, the more information I can find upfront to help establish a solid pattern and framework makes it easier to do so from the start instead of changing paths mid-stream.

    @Outlet – I would not advise deleting old posts, as that will break any incoming links to those posts. Instead as Darren suggests, try updating the content and following the guidelines to update the post instead of deleting it.

  7. Rob O. says:

    I try to avoid retooling blog entries from the archives at the expense of spending time working on new content, but I do believe it’s entirely legit to do minor edits on older posts.

    Mind you, I’m not talking about doing a George Lucas-style overhaul, just minor tweaks and most often, it’s to provide a link forward to a newer, related post – kind of like reverse deep-linking. And when I do update older posts, I usually indicate it with a little red “Update” notation, so it’s more apparent. (You can take a look at my FiveFingers For Your Ten Toes article for an example.)

  8. When I first started blogging, I wrote posts that were WAY too long. I was used to writing chapters for books.

    So this week, I went back and shortened one considerably and reposted it.

    My question is how is duplicate content determined. If you cut a post by several paragraphs and change the headline, is it duplicate?

  9. Ark Lady says:

    I use date stamps on my posts so when I update I just add some content–when appropriate I also include a date stamp within the text of the post such as Update 5/1/09 or something similar. I haven’t gone back to redo many of the posts but probably will spend some time doing that since I also moved my blog from Blogger to WP and need to update all the tags and categories.