Is your older blog content drowning your brand?
I know. I never really thought of it that way either.
At least not until I started to read one of my old blog posts a few months ago...
(It was like getting hit in the head by a foul ball coming at you with the bright silhouette of the sun searing behind it. You didn't even see it coming.)
Although that old blog post was inches away from 3,000 shares, it no longer fit my brand.
So, it got deleted from the content archives.
From that day forward, I've done 2 necessary content activities each week:
- Check popular content to see what needs updating (revamping or removal, included.)
- Update at least one older blog post.
Because your blog is a portfolio of your credibility.
Might as well make it the best it can be, right?
And it starts with updating—updating older blog posts to suit your brand, style, and content direction.
If you're looking for a strategy to keep your blog tidy, up-to-date, and desirable to the right audience, then this post is exactly what you're looking for.
Before we dive in, I've got a method to updating older content the smart way.
What's the point in starting your updates with blog content that isn't getting seen, right?
The first step is to hop onto your Google Analytics account and:
- Under the Reporting tab, set your dates range to 3 months back (if applicable) to present.
- Then on the left sidebar, scroll down to Behavior » Site Content » All Pages.
- You can expand the search, if necessary, but the goal is to collect your top 10 blog posts that are "trending" with your current audience actively for 3 months or less.
(You can record them in a spreadsheet—like my business pack spreadsheets for Excel and iWork Numbers here.)
Your spreadsheet columns can contain simple info like:
- Date Edited
- Blog Post Title
- [Post] URL
- Changes Made
- Current Status (Published, Taken Down For Review, Deleted)
- Notes (When should you revisit this post?)
Once you've got your spreadsheet in order, now it's time to get to editing that older blog post.
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Here are the 6 penetrating questions to ask when updating:
1. Is this post still relevant to my direction?
I don't care how much traffic a post brings in, it's not doing you or your visitor any good if none of your other content (or the direction you're taking your business in) doesn't connect together.
And if you've been blogging for a while, you're bound to have a bushel of content that needs to go.
It can be tough, I know. To take down all that hard work you put into building your blog... It feels counterproductive.
But those disconnect posts have to go.
Even temporarily, the traffic coming in to posts or pages that don't fit with your brand [any longer] is wasted traffic.
Where will they go next? Nowhere if the content isn't connected in some understandable way.
"Unpublish" (take down) those posts.
If you're taking a post down because you've written a better, more updated version, be sure to redirect the URL to the updated post.
Or, just let them hit your 404 error page if someone stumbles onto that post from another channel. Like from an old Pinterest image that's circulated far beyond your reach.
(Just make sure your error page is set up to collect the leads and guide them to where they could go, instead.)
PRO TIP: Before you delete any post, be sure to back them up.
You can highlight and copy it over to a plain text document. Create a file on your computer that says something like:
- Removed Posts
- Content To Steal From
- Reuseable Content
- Needs Updating | Posts
Or whatever works best for you.
Then, store all your taken down content in this folder. That way you can refer to them if you're looking to rewrite or snag some stories or ideas from it.
This first question is simply a "get you through the door to updating" kind of thing.
Because why spend a ton of time editing a post that you're going to end up taking down anyway?
2. Does the introduction hook the reader?
Admittedly, I tend to focus on a story or enticing the reader with a real life scenario of some sort.
Depending on your niche, you may want to go in, guns blazing like SEO genius Brian Dean suggests.
As a leading competitor of big brand SEO (Search Engine Optimization) houses like QuickSprout, Brian suggests sprinkling keywords in the first 100 words of all your blog posts. (It's number 7 in his post here.)
I focus on the SEO factor, sure. But my main focus is on instilling a feeling in my reader as opposed to simply "hooking search engines" to send me traffic.
TIP: When you're writing your introduction, you should know your audience well.
Brian's audience is composed of primarily busy men looking to snag some SEO strategies fast.
My audience is primarily female and want to feel the connection to the content. To go on the journey to fixing a problem they're having in their business.
But, Brian's quick-on-the-trigger SEO-infused intros are a great way to get noticed much faster by search engines.
Regardless of how you prefer to write, your introduction should introduce the post as quick as possible.
(Surprise surprise, right?)
My intro writing formula is:
- Present a problem / desire / want / need of the reader
- Make a promise to solve / fulfill it (and follow through before the conclusion)
- Introduce the post—who's it for and why (I don't want to waste someone's time if they don't "need" to read it)
- Provide an opportunity to subscribe right at the front door (before the meat of the content begins)
If your intro doesn't hook the reader fast, then you need to rewrite it.
Again, you can get straight to the point like Brian Dean does. Or, you can connect on an emotional level with your readers like Henneke Duistermaat.
Either way, your introduction needs to:
- Tell your reader what they're going to read.
- Contain keywords within the first 100 words.
- Hook your reader with a story, a problem, or a direct solution (what Brian does).
- Entice them to trade their email address before they go any deeper.
3. Does this post "sound" and look like it came from me?
Maybe you've changed your style. Maybe you've changed the way you arrange images or your formatting.
Here's where a content style guide becomes an apparent necessity.
I hate to admit that I didn't come up with a guide until about 3 weeks into editing older content.
The need became clear as I had to take down a blog post just a few weeks after spending 2 hours "upgrading" it.
(Talk about a peeved Sara over here...)
Even something simple like how you line up your images now as opposed to when you wrote the older post.
It's about consistency in more than just your written content.
EXAMPLE: I used to have my large, Pinterest-optimized header image fit full-width below my introduction.
Lots of "big time bloggers" were doing it, so I followed suit.
But later on, I realized I was annoyed when reading others' content that slapped you in the retinas with a long image you had to scroll past to continue reading on a desktop screen.
So, I changed my image arrangement and have the main image align to the right of the intro on desktop.
It still appears full width on mobile, but scrolling past a long images isn't as annoying on a mobile device.
Next, consider whether your tone of voice or writing style has changed.
You've likely grown as a writer. (Even if the post you're editing is only a couple months old, you're a better writer now than you were then.)
This is the point where you'll want to start reading through your post.
Steps 1 and 2 were a quick peruse. Just to make sure this post is worth the time it takes to edit and add to it.
Step 3 is a deep dive into the content.
Other things to look for are how you use:
Maybe you used to curse a bit more than you do now. If that's the case, brainstorm alternatives you can use for that content shocking *F* bomb you let slide a few months ago.
(Include these changes in your style guide, too.)
SUGGESTED: How To Create A Painless Content Style Guide
4. What can I add to make this post better (and easier to read)?
Now that the technical aspect is complete, you can focus on upgrading the post.
In my content updating journey, I've found lots of unintentional content veering.
Like going off on a tangent and coming back with an "Anyhow" or "Back on topic".
As cute as it might be [at times], I've created enough systems now to help me stay focused while writing.
And in teaching focus and productivity, to allow content ramblings no longer fits with my maturing brand.
Think about things like that when you're editing, too.
Think about stories or examples you could use to make the content easier to read and comprehend.
Relatable examples will make you a go-to source for your readers. (Especially with more difficult to understand concepts.)
PRO TIP: Remove all jargon, unrelated stories or ramblings, and "dumb down" your big words.
As awesome as your abundant intellect may be, if you're writing for a craft blog and using words like "formulate" or "construct" when you can just say "create", you're doing a great disservice to your blog and readers.
ANOTHER PRO TIP: Check all your links to make sure they're still good.
You don't want to hit an error page when directing a reader with an internal or external link.
Run your blog post URL through a free link checker.
Simply change or remove whatever existing links aren't good or valid anymore.
(An easy tip that will save you lots of unhappy readers later.)
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5. How can I make this post more beneficial to my readers (and to me)?
Besides the added value of examples and stories, what else can you bring in to make this post stellar?
A few things you should [or could] add are:
- Fresh, valid links to newer content
- Valuable links to other people's useful content
- Updated or more images
- [New quotes from related industry or topic leaders]
- [A revised, keyword-driven title]
Brainstorm things you can do to give this post a whole new life. Because if you're going to keep it up as a representation of your brand, you might as well make it frigging valuable.
6. Does the opt-in offer need upgrading?
Every single blog post needs an opt-in offer of some sort.
Now, I'm not all gung-ho about "have a custom freebie for each blog post" like I was when writing the content upgrade post.
But, I will say that having an easy and clear way for blog visitors to give you their email address is a necessity.
So, if you don't have a few updated and branded content upgrades you can focus on 1 site-wide offer.
Something like a free email course. Free email courses are a fantastic way to:
You might've read my other post mentioning how I removed 46 content upgrades from my blog.
(Crazy, I know.)
But now I cycle 2-3 upgrades which all get funneled through my introductory email course.
The point is:
You don't need a ton of different content upgrades to earn quality email subscribers. You do need to weave in desirable opportunities for visitors to sign up, though.
Depending on the length and layout of your blog, I set my own rule for 1 opt-in per 750 words.
If I write a 1,500 word post, I may include 2 opt-ins (in addition to the one that stays in my pre-footer throughout my site).
Most of the time I'll include one opt-in offer just below the introduction—the "right at the front door" detailed opt-in.
And another one 3/4 through the content styled as an image or a box with a button to help break up space and encourage the reader further down the page.
So, if you don't have an opt-in, the goal here is to create one.
Again, I recommend an introductory or "onboarding" email course as your main offer.
If you already have a content upgrade attached to the post you're updating, review it. Ask yourself:
- Should you keep it or use the intro email course [or something else]?
- If you keep it, does it need updating? (Style, branding, content, etc.)
- If you update it, does it need new images, a landing page, or a new description?
BONUS: After upgrading an existing freebie, create a few duplicatable social media images focused on that offer.
I've seen some bloggers set these images up to look like blog post's themselves. But they're sent to a semi-detailed landing page prompting an email subscription for the freebie.
It's a clever and tactical way to build your email list faster, for sure.
ADDED BONUS: If you use the extra social media images strategy, be sure to have an introductory course or email sequence attached to the free offer.
The last thing you want is "yet another" subscriber that doesn't fit well with your brand because you didn't on-board them.
That intro course works just like a blog post intro:
It helps the reader (the subscriber) to get to know what's to come. And if it's not a good fit, they can leave.
They're not going to read something that doesn't suit them. Why would they stay subscribed for the same reasons?
So, how can you bring new life to older blog content?
Get started today.
Hop onto Google Analytics and find that most popular blog post.
Even if you wrote the post last month, go back and look for ways to make it more valuable to your reader and to you.
Maybe you've created a new product that would benefit your readers, and it'd fit well with that piece of content.
There's always a good reason to go back through older blog posts.
Think of your blog like an older model car.
Without regular maintenance, it'll break down on you. So keep up with it and it'll keep getting you where you need to go.
P.S. Comments, emails, running a business and being a mom of 3 were just too much for me to handle all together, apparently. But the lack of a comment box doesn't mean I don't want to hear what you think! Share your thoughts with me via @GoffCreative on Twitter or directly via email.
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