Close
Close

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.

Problogger.net runs on the Genesis Framework

Genesis Framework

The Genesis Framework empowers you to quickly and easily build incredible websites with WordPress. Genesis provides the secure and search-engine-optimized foundation that takes WordPress to places you never thought it could go.

Check out the incredible features and the selection of designs. It's that simple - start using Genesis now!

Comments

  1. I usually update my old posts once a month or so, and while I keep the content original I find it helpful to update with photos where I didn’t have any before, or clean up the formatting/flow of the post.

    As I learn more about what works well in a blog post I also like to go back and freshen up the older content I’ve written, and incorporate those things that are working for me.

    Matt

  2. I do many of the above. In fact, I update some of the oldest posts on my blogs, but mostly to change dead links or program I was promoting.

    Franck

  3. ezg says:

    I don’t update my posts.. Because I think, that posts need to be left hopw they are… Readers have to know what i thought earlier, so they can now that I’m doing progress and my opinion changes and maybe even gets better..

  4. It’s also very important to update old posts if you change your monetization method. Especially important for your high search traffic blogs.

    If you decide to cancel adsense on your blog and that was the only ad unit running on a post you did a year ago that’s still generating 300 hits a month from Google, then you need to go back and add a new ad unit to that page.

  5. I’ve updated a few posts, but haven’t every really sat down to go through them all and make sure they are up-to-date.

    I also use a plugin that notifies me when links are broken so I can immediately fix them.

    I don’t know what I’d do without it.

  6. Hmm..
    Think I have to have more content, to use this trick ;)

  7. Derek says:

    I think updating old posts is great. When you’re running a blog, a lot of traffic will be hitting your archived posts and you may as well keep them up to date so you don’t mislead anyone. Additionally, this helps fall into Steve Pavlina’s theory of “creating timeless content.”

  8. Bryon Powell says:

    I publish a trail marathon and ultramarathon blog and often update posts ranging from gear previews to my core guidance posts. Same goes for more news oriented posts.

    One question I have is whether it is wise to delete some posts entirely. For instance, what if the focus of a blog changes significantly over time or some posts are minor news announcements that are no longer relevant.

  9. Be careful if you use an auto-blog function to your list like Aweber. It will send every post above the one you updated to your list! This can actually be a useful glitch at times. I found that the click through on the accident was twice it usually is. So I intentionally update an old post once a month and they get a list of all of the blogs for that month- a monthly recap function!

  10. I am more likely to do a respost and edit it, linking to the original at the end. Of course, my mommy blog posts generally do not contain a lot of factual information that needs correcting or updating. But my fashion and beauty blog — now sometimes I change my mind on a product after I reviewed it, and I love your idea of going back to update it. I think I’ll start doing that!

    Love your blog. Don’t comment a lot, but I value your advice highly!!

  11. Sid Savara says:

    I’m a big believer in updating old posts. I want every page on my site to be a landing page – if you arrive at any of my articles via a friend, search engine or just browsing, I want you to have the very best experience possible.

    I publish infrequently, and will often revise a post a few times over the month or so after it is published.

    My readers give me valuable attention when they read my work, and I always give them the best I have to offer.

  12. Ladyday93 says:

    I’ve been know to comment on my old posts using the comment feature not unlike the way the author Louisa May Alcott did with her journal entries at times. It was interesting to see her reacting as a 40 year to some of what her 25 year old self said and did.

    I do like the idea of revisiting and expanding certain assertions made in previous posts. I don’t know that I’ve changed a lot of my viewpoints, but I likely have more context to place things in now.

  13. Got this post alert via twitter… and it’s a refreshing look at the idea to updating your posts… most people still don’t get it!

    I plan to update my 90-day+ posts… this way at least I get the spiders visit my blog once again, and hopefully would attract more visitors… lol

  14. I update at least one post a week. It’s amazing how different in quality the posts I did a couple of years ago are compared to what I do now. If nothing else, it’s nice to be able to maintain a good quality archive. Biggest change I think you can make is to update the post title and permalink to make it more SEO friendly, get extra keywords in, etc.

  15. Blog Expert says:

    I update for better SEO. Google seems to love it.

  16. Sue says:

    Absolutely posts need to be updated on occasion. Particularly if it’s a newsy type of site.

    One way I do it since a lot of people won’t look at the related posts links at the bottom and just bounce away, is to have a stylized update at the top of the post. By stylized, I mean it’s in a distinctly different look from the rest of the post, and the updated information goes in here.
    Example:
    Clicky

    While I won’t necessarily update every post, it does work for those that get the Google traffic, but the info is out of date.

    Another issue to be aware of if you’re dealing with somewhat current news, is that your subscribers won’t be getting updated. So if it’s critical info, make sure you do a different post rather than update.

    Another time I’ve had to make a quick update to a post is when someone stumbled the wrong page. He/she meant to do a story in the sidebar (I know because of the tag they used) but instead got a completely unrelated page listed. So I did the edit thing, welcoming SU users, and directing them with a link to the probably correct post. For this reason it’s a good idea to have a real time stats package.

    Like Darren, minor errors like broken links and typos get updated without a mention.

  17. Mike Nichols says:

    My blog has high search engine traffic (<66%), so old posts definitely need to be kept up-to-date. In addition, my HONcode certification requires that old posts be reviewed from time to time for accuracy, currency, etc.

    Sometimes, I will simply update the old post and add a review date. Other posts need to be completely rewritten and the old post deleted; these I treat as new posts.

    I think reviewing old posts has a lot to do with the kind of blog that you have. If you blog opinion, you don’t have to review and revise as much as other blogs that post informational topics, such as Darren and I have. And it also has a lot to do with how your readers find your posts: the higher the search engine traffic, the more need for periodic reviewing of older posts.

  18. RfP says:

    I do a lot of fixing errors and broken links. I don’t post frequently, so my blog gets much of its traffic from search engines; since it’s functioning more as an archived body of work than as a news source, it behooves me to keep the archive relevant.

    I also edit old posts to add links “pointing ahead” to updated posts. And I recently noticed that a few isolated posts had become a series; I’ve started to add notes at the top of the posts (f’rex), directing the reader to the rest of the content.

  19. This is great post with a lot of useful information. Great job. I enjoyed reading it.

    Regards

  20. bbrian017 says:

    I’m a big fan of having the ability to re check the post for spelling mistakes! I’m a pretty impatient guy and rarely proof read my content…

  21. I just updated 2 today.

    With the 1st one, I just added the phrase mid-paragraph (without notification) because I just wrote it yesterday.

    For the 2nd one, I did what I usually do: add

    * UPDATE 12/8/8: xyz

    to the very bottom of the post.

    I do like what you described though: adding notification at the top of the post so they know when an old post has been updated (my post URL’s include the date also)

    Thanks for all your hard work.

  22. Aad 't Hart says:

    I usually don’t update older posts, unless they really contain mistakes, e.g. spelling mistakes, wrong references etc..
    In case my opinion of vision changed I prefer to make a new post, that does link back to the old one.

  23. mike says:

    I update my old post if their are spelling errors, or if I didn’t word a sentence correctly.

  24. Zsolt Balla says:

    Updating old posts is fine, but I prefer to add extra lines and notes to changing the actual text of the original post (that is unless you have to repair a broken link).

    Writing an entirely new post and linking the two (the new and the old one) together is time consuming, but in most cases that’s the best way to do to show your readers that your opinion (or the facts) have changed since the posting of the original post.

  25. Mike says:

    I have Updated posts quite a bit sometimes to reformat and make it easier to read, other times adding content, ad sometimes removing or extending some ideas in the article.

    How do you feel about deleting post. I recently deleted some coupons and event posts that had expired. The content is no longer relevent and I think it detracts from the overall usefulness of the blog but I was concerned that I may miss some hits from readers that may have landed on my blog from a search on a related topic.

  26. I’ve gone back and cleaned up old posts because I knew nothing about SEO 2 years ago and did not use good keywords in the titles or first paragraph.

    After just spending 10 minutes on this for a few articles, each of them started getting 3-10 google organic hits a day (before they were getting 0-1) — what an efficient use of my time! :)

  27. Sérgio says:

    I usually update old posts that do well on search engines. These updates may be to include links to later posts about the theme, invitations to subscription or addition of affiliate links or even affiliate banners, depending on the keywords that are attracting visitors to that specific post.

  28. Joshua says:

    Great post, Darren. Thanks for the reminder that we should do this every now and then. I like to think of it as a form of housecleaning. I actually have a few posts that I’ve tagged with a little note in red text so people know that there may be some changes needed to that post, and as I have time, I go back and fix those posts or link to a new post that further explains the scenario.

    Keep the great ProBlogger content coming!

  29. Joshua says:

    One thing I forgot to mention… I do think there are ethical questions involved with changing posts, though for obvious reasons. To help our blogs’ credibility, I think it’s best we make a note that a post has been modified when we do so.

  30. This is exactly what I’ve been working on for one of my blogs and while it’s a rather large, ongoing project, I feel much better about my content knowing that it’s squeaky clean and up-to-date.

  31. MJ Klein says:

    i use the word “UPDATE” in red color and all caps to indicate updated material:

    http://www.thenhbushman.com/2008/11/12/our-2008-us-trip-part-six-nancy-arrives/

    for example….

  32. In the past, I’ve been concerned that if I update an old post – particular say, change the title slightly, that it will go out again in the RSS feed. Have I been needlessly concerned?

  33. I’m with you on updating an old post. I think that things change and sometimes our perspective on things that we have blogged about in the past. I think it’s important that if someone were to stumble upon a blog of mine it’s as accurate as possible. I have also not included dates in my permalinks which makes it easy to repost.

  34. netbook says:

    Thank you for reminding us about this important way to improve blogs. I am headed to update and repost some of my older posts.

  35. I had talked about the same topic sometime back… It’s very important to edit your key articles from the past. Sometimes just to format, sometimes to make the articles timeless and perhaps even for SEO matters…

    http://www.dollarshower.com/giving-your-old-blog-post-a-sarah-palin-makeover/

  36. Funny, I was just doing this today. Sometimes you post something, then change your mind, or you find a better link. I think it will just give you more credibility to be on top of things. This is good to see this here too – let’s me know I am not breaking some sort of blogger etiquette by making a change to my post.

  37. Carla says:

    Since my writing is a little better than it was when I first started, I update some of my posts every now and then. Links cease to exist, errors I never saw before, found a better picture to use and so on. I see nothing wrong with it since I am still getting visitors to some of those older posts.

  38. Glen Allsopp says:

    It’s funny…the post you updated is the one that I read a couple of days ago in full. I’ll go over it again and see if I can take any more nuggets of wisdom out of it ;)

    Cheers,
    Glen

  39. I agree with Glen, thanks for the nuggets of wisdom in your post. It is a great feeling when you know your blog is uptodate and cleande up. Keep up the good work!

  40. Pat says:

    Great article. My blog is very new but can see how important it will be to adopt strategies to keep posts relevant especially when in comes to links.

  41. Free Footy says:

    Very nice article there.Sometimes I don’t care about old posts and I left there to rot.But after reading your article it helps me understand the value of each post I make whether it’s old or new.Pity is I don’t have much time to do it.

  42. العاب says:

    One of the most creative posts I’ve seen in awhile:) Very informative as well!
    But what if i have tons of old posts ?

  43. John says:

    I provide the results of historical research on my blog and sometimes I have omissions that are later discovered or blog readers find things and so I go back and put “update” in the text and make the addition/correction.

    I consider my blog a historical record on 19th century furniture and want it to be as complete and accurate as possible.

    If it is major enough, I’ll do a new post pointing out the old “error”.

  44. Tom L says:

    I update old blog posts once in a while too, but it gets time consuming if you have hundreds of posts because you have to go through them one-by-one.

  45. Meg says:

    I’ve found that when I change a post, this goes to my Twitter as a new post (I use Twitterfeed), which can be good if I want to link older and newer posts together, but not so great if I’m just catching a spelling error.

  46. Velvet Blues says:

    Yes, I update posts but never change the date. Usually, I do it to improve accuracy or add additional information.

    Lately, I’ve been doing it more and more for SEO purposes, so that Google doesn’t think that a post has been orphaned.

  47. kdyment says:

    I don’t update my posts unless, of course I have heard of or found inaccuracies form grammar/spelling to facts. However, as far as my personal expressions and opinions go, I like to display how my thoughts and blogging itself may have evolved.

  48. Stephanie says:

    This is very helpful information. Writing about environmental issues can be tricky because new laws are passed or other info gets updated. I use a permalink without the date in it too, so that is helpful for me to update old blog posts. Thanks for the tutorial.

  49. Amy says:

    This is a great post…I’ve been thinking of doing this now my blog is a year old and some of the old posts don’t get traffic on the new domain I’ve migrated to.

    One thing I have considered also is to make some of the most useful resources into blog pages rather than just posts, so they are more accessible and available and easy to find for new users. Since the great majority of my readership is organic search traffic, making everything more easily available and refreshing old posts seems very important.

    I’m also really interested in someone’s idea above for a plug in that notifies me of broken links…need to do some searching in the WP plug in directory I guess.

    Thanks everyone.

  50. Chris says:

    “3. Usefulness and Usability”

    I’ve been going through my site the past month and a half or so, and have started weeding out old posts that no longer add value to the site.

    dead links, a mess, no search value – gone.

    i’ve probably eliminated a few hundred posts already, and have taken away from the value of the blog in terms of usability.

    on the flip side of that – I’ve been “sprucing things up” as I go… interlinking appropriate “like” articles, making sure video links work, attribution is given, etc.

    the hope is that the archives become a better tool, rather than just being google bait with diminishing value.