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Breathe Life Into an Old Post [Day 21 - 31DBBB]

This post is an excerpt from the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog Workbook

Let me be a little presumptuous and blunt - not every post in the archives of your blog is up to scratch.

I know this because the statement is true of my own blogs.

No matter how hard we work on our blogging there are always things in the posts that we’ve previously written that can be improved upon. There are also posts in most of our archives that have simply under performed for some reason or another.

Today your task in the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog challenge is to update an older post on your blog.

This is a little different to our previous task to update a key page/post on your blog (day 14) because in that task we were looking at important pages to your blog. In this one we’re looking for posts that you’ve written that for one reason or another are not up to scratch.

This might be because:

  • you rushed the initial writing of the post and was poorly written
  • your post lacked depth in some way
  • that the information is now dated
  • that you’ve changed your opinion on what you wrote
  • a key element in the post (like the title, formatting or opening lines) was poorly done
  • you were wrong with your post and it contains factual errors
  • because you know more now about the topic than you did when you first wrote it

Whatever the reason – today your task is to update at least one older post.

The update might be anything from a couple of tweaks through to a complete overhaul.

If the update is significant write a new post on your blog linking back to the old one to let readers know that it’s updated. You might also want to think about promoting it on Twitter, to other key bloggers in your niche etc.

7 Ways to Update a Post and Give it New Life

Below are 7 ways that you can update a post. These come from a series I wrote a few months back on ‘crafting blog posts‘ and while it is written from the perspective of crafting a new post I think that most of it can easily be applied to updating old posts too.

1. Crafting Your Post Title – if there’s one element that lets down posts more than others it is the post title. A title can mean the difference between a post being read or not. I’ve reworked the titles on a few old posts and seen them have new leashes of life simply because the title changed.

2. Opening Lines - your post title’s goal is to get people to read your opening line – but if you don’t have a great opening line people won’t read any further.

3. Call to Action – what do you want people to do when they’ve finished reading your post? In many cases bloggers simply let posts end in a whimper without giving readers a call to do anything. Posts that call to action give readers a ‘next step’.

4. Add Depth – many blog posts that I read would be made much more successful if the blogger just had spent a few extra minutes giving examples, adding an illustration, suggesting further reading, sharing an opinion etc. This post gives 13 ways to add depth to a post.

5. Quality Control – many posts (my own included) could be improved with a little extra proof reading. Also pay attention to links that may have become dead or facts that you present that are dated or inaccurate for current readers.

6. Polishing Posts – how your post looks has a massive impact upon how they are treated by readers. A great looking post can mean the difference between a post being read and going viral and a post that sits unnoticed in your archives.

7. Conversation – for many bloggers once a post is published it goes off the radar for the blogger despite readers interacting with it and commenting upon it for days, weeks, months and even years after.

Further Reading

Updating Old Posts On Your Blog – an exploration of the ‘why’ and ‘how’ to update old posts. This explores the question of when to update an old post and when to write a new post that updates an older one.

Check out the discussion on this topic here in our forum.

Want More?

This task is a sample of one of the tasks in the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog Workbook – a downloadable resource designed to reinvigorate and revitalize blogs.

Join over 14,000 other bloggers and Get your Copy Today.

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. Laura says:

    This is on my list of things to do. Working on my color scheme and then it’s to work on the old post. I did this to an entertainment site and the traffic nearly doubled. Therefore I am pretty sure that it will work again.

  2. Zulfikar says:

    First of all let me say I’ve not been a part of these challenges and some of them are pretty good and worth undertaking.

    But I don’t think changing old posts in any shape or form is the way to go. By all means you can review them and use the outcome as the basis of a new post, linking back andreferring back to the original. This will leave you in good stead with your readers for a) it shows you are the human your and b) its an opportunity to either admit a mistake or elaborate more on your past view thus showing how far you have progressed since.

    Alteration is deception if you do not explain what has been altered and why and doing so will leave you with “new” content within the old – a total mess! Hence why I advocate for a new post with reference to an old one as a way of updating with the benefit of more and current content.

  3. I always get valuable information when visiting popular blogs, but why it’s very difficult to apply that information into something real, or common person say it with success, thank you

  4. Lee Ka Hoong says:

    Great! I’ll be editing some of my old posts. I just wrote a post yesterday and I was looking for relevant post to link back, but I found that some of my previous blog post didn’t really look satisfy for me. I think it’s time for me to edit some of them to make them look great and live again! :)

    Regards,
    Lee

  5. Thank you for that lessons. Those 7 pointers really made it easier for me to update my blog. It was very helpful and convenient just following your guide.
    Thanks again

    Jackie

  6. One thing I have found helpful is to view the analytics stats and see what drives people to a particular post on my website. Then I go back to that article and make sure that the conent is meeting the vistitors needs. Sometimes, for a particular keyword, no editing is needed. Other times I will add a paragraph or two to expand on the idea that brought them there in the first place.

    Other times, the keyword isn’t really relevent to the article and I don’t really do anything about that. However, if it is my niche I’ll make a note and then write an article on that particular topic.

  7. This will work for some of my blogs, I am not sure I can breathe life back into an old post on my http://www.ezfreesamples.com site, as the free sample trial periods will most likely be over by a later date, I update it daily, as the samples run out after a few days in most cases, a few weeks in others.

  8. Interesting idea since most bloggers never do this. Highly recommend reading other comments to this post before deciding if this is right for you.

  9. carla says:

    This is such a great idea. A lot of my older posts gets more attention than my newer ones. I just updated a few that are in my archives but are still going strong.

  10. Michelle says:

    Wow, I had forgotten about some of the articles I had written when the blog started. Some of the content was actually pretty good, which was a relief to me!

    I used to offer a service that has been discontinued – so I am starting to go through and remove the link to that website.

    And thanks to the discussion forums, I have had some fantastic feedback about the blog. I had too many categories before, and am now going through old posts to reassign categories and make sure that the tags are okay.

    I found this post and am hoping to drive some traffic there – I think it definitely worth a discussion…but probably wrote it when nobody was reading my blog :-) It’s about the idea of the “Clean Plate Club” and the pressure that that can put on kids to eat more food than their bodies can accommodate.

    http://whatscookingblog.com/2008/08/17/clean-plate-club/

  11. Another way to breathe life into an old post is to simply use OldPostPromoter plugin…you can find it by doing a search using your WP admin ‘Add Plugin’ function ;)

  12. I knew the post I wanted to update as soon as I read the day’s task. I’d been thinking about doing something new with it. While I also see Samuel’s point, the thinking is a bit narrow. The post I chose is fairly short and not a big thought-piece or anything that is necessarily key to follow my trail of crumbs. It’s just a hello to Boomers, encouraging them to participate, which is something I do all the time. The reason I updated this one is that it posted it a year ago, and I have a lot more activity going on now than I did at that time. It’s a perfect time to pop it back up to the top. There are lots of posts I wouldn’t consider doing this with.

    The graphic is really fun, worth a look just for that.

    http://tinyurl.com/web550gift

    Have fun everybody, life is but a dream.
    Suzanna Stinnett

  13. Liz says:

    I used an old post from last November that I felt the pictures didn’t match the title too much. I have collected more photos that I was going to write a new article about so I changed the title of the old post, deleted a couple of the pictures and added even more of my more recent pictures. I wrote a new short post and linked it back to the older post which I extended. It’s a twofer.

  14. Robyn says:

    I used an old post and added you tube video to it, correct spelling & added a few other lines
    http://outbackselfhelp.blogspot.com/2007/12/pay-ir-forward.html

  15. Dane says:

    Went back to yesterday’s post (“How You Improve”), that I thought I was finished with, and added a funny, new picture. I did CPR on my post! It is resuscitated!

    The post briefly outlines:
    The first 5 steps to becoming a more organized and accomplished person.

    ~Dane
    http://bionicbutler.blogspot.com/2009/04/how-you-improve.html

    BionicButler.com
    “the art of improving personal productivity at home”

  16. Luke says:

    this is pretty true sometimes I feel in a rush to get posts out and having looked back on a few I have now realised I could add a great deal more content and information…

    Which is better for every one in the long run even the lovely robots and they will fresh updated content to buzz through which could even help to create more traffic via search phrases!

    thanks again Darren

  17. Kristen says:

    I realize I’m a little tardy on this one, but I wanted to share anyway. I wrote one of my very first posts before I had really developed my writing style. I always hated reading that post, because it sounded so cheesey and false.

    As you suggested, I’ve gone back and redone it, and I really like it SO much better. It gets my point across…I said more of what I had intended to in the original post, and in fewer words, too. It’s definitely more “me.” Thank you!

  18. Naomi Trower says:

    I have quite a few posts to update. I upgraded my free wordpress blog to a self-hosted one and I have a bunch of links to update. Also I have quite a few videos and I noticed that some of them are inactive. I need to find out if there are in new locations or what happened and update my posts. Great idea! Thanks!

  19. Ark Lady says:

    Since I moved my website over to a blog I did redirects on most of the pages–except for the ones that are well ranked and that get a lot of traffic. I’d prefer to move them over but am hesitant–wondering what you think Darren after reading your response in the comment threads.

    I have a lot of content that is dated (related to animal attacks) but what I find is that it does get recirculated when a similar event takes place.

    When that happens I make sure a link to new content is up near the top and take advantage of the rank and age of that post to drive traffic to the new one.

    Also, I find you can do a Series and add new content to a topic with links to similar, relevant content–that spices it up again.

  20. Amy says:

    This was helpful! I did find some areas where I had put my category title (I have a series of post-types) but didn’t put a subject! I also found some more creative ways to title my posts so that google reader or search engines would pick them up.

  21. Albert says:

    So much to learn, so little time.
    I have started… heck I have been updating posts for the last two weeks.
    Now I just need to get more folk actually reading my stuff. My Adwords/Analytics says I have a bounce rate of 61% and folk spend around 5 min’s on my site… but I think this is all the time my machine is on the site while I am updating and viewing changes :)

  22. FRostinG says:

    This is so true, i also think it’s a pretty good idea to update older posts. Regular readers usually come from the main page, but new ones will find a blog with a search engine and will enter on your site by one of your ‘old’ posts. So if those are kept up to date, you make a better first impression! Great site btw, lots of nice tricks!

  23. We loved this task as well. It took a long time to read over this lesson and the recommended reading, but it was worth it.

    Based on the suggestions we made the following changes:

    * A large relevant graphic at the start of the post to reduce bounce rate
    * Introductory questions to entice people to continue to read more
    * A call to action – “leave a blog comment”
    * Links to some newer relevant posts we have written

  24. Ebizel Diary says:

    Great example of the “sneeze pages” u talk abt !!

  25. abercrombie says:

    It’s funny that this came up today because I just tried rewrite an old post and release it two days ago. still no comments yet, but after reading upon Darren’s suggestions. i am convinced that comments will turn up. thank you

  26. Kat Rice says:

    This was a particularly hard assignment for me. I know I had posts that needed work but I didn’t even know where to start, finally got one finished. Its renamed now to “Text that won’t make the Cut”

    http://www.veribatim.com/blog/2008/11/06/need-to-know-basis/