If you are anything like me, you started your first blog without giving too much thought about the whole process of blogging. And sometimes that is a really good thing. Posts turned out to be raw and honest.
However, they also tended to be short on information and word count, not to mention, visually unappealing. Some of those first articles you wrote probably make you cringe now. Mine certainly do.
Your style of writing, your brand, maybe even your niche have changed since those early days.
Your first instinct may be to delete those posts, but that would create 301’s unless you take the time to create redirects.
If there is even a hint of value, you should try to update your posts instead. Updating old posts can literally double your traffic overnight if you take the time to do it right. Especially if the post was received well when it was originally published.
I recommend going through your old posts, updating one a week, using the following 10 steps to really super charge your pageviews.
10 Steps To Optimizing Old Posts On Your Blog
1. Update information.
Is your old post outdated or do you have additional information to share? Maybe you were brief and can now expand on the topic. Use this opportunity to do some research, add some personal experiences and increase your word count.
Longer posts are better for SEO (Search Engine Optimization). The ultimate goal is to help your old posts rank higher in searches and bring you more organic traffic.
2. Update keyword & meta descriptions
When I first started my blog, I had no idea about SEO. I was probably a year in before I heard about the Yoast plug in. If you don’t have it yet, I strongly recommend adding it to your WordPress blog.
- Yoast helps you optimize your keywords thereby increasing your visitors from Google and Bing.
- It connects your social media profiles to your blog which helps you attract more visitors from social media.
- Yoast lets you know if your posts are visually nice to read which helps readers consume and engage with your posts more.
- You can also choose to not include certain posts and pages from search engines. This is especially beneficial if you do not want to delete some old posts because they bring you traffic but they do not enhance your SEO presence.
If you have been using Yoast from the beginning, check if the keywords and meta description previously chosen, were the best choice for the post.
If the keyword needs to be changed, make sure the post and meta description are changed as well. Not to mention the file names and alt tags for all the images too. (more on that later)
Updating your old posts gives you the opportunity to make sure all the fields in the Yoast plug in are completed and that you have the “green light”.
BONUS TIP: Break up large blocks of text with new paragraphs and images to improve readability.
3. Update your title.
If you are a year into blogging or have over 100 posts published, and you feel like you should be getting more pageviews by now, you need to check your titles.
Titles can make or break your blog.
It was the number one reason responsible for low traffic when I was doing blog audits.
And I gotta tell ya, 90% of the bloggers I worked with had no clue that their titles sucked. It seems that most bloggers have no instinct for judging their own post titles. I am sure I am guilty of that too.
- A good title makes someone click and read.
- A good post delivers on the expectation given in the title.
So if you are not getting the click-throughs you expect, you need to do some A/B testing on your post titles.
You can do this several ways:
- You could change the title on your actual post.
- You could change the social media title through Yoast or your social sharing plug-in.
- You could create new pins with new titles.
BONUS TIP: The text on your social media image does not have to match the title of the post.
Whichever method you choose to test different titles for your post, I strongly suggest using the Co-schedule Headline Analyzer to craft your new titles.
Here you can see me testing titles for this post:
4. Change your URL. (optional)
If you have updated your keywords and have crafted a new title that is generating traffic, you may decide to give your SEO a real boost by changing your URL to include the keywords you are now trying to rank for.
Changing the post URL will create 301’s for any old links floating around on the internet (for example: pins on Pinterest).
You must set up redirects from the old post to the new URL. You can do that easily using the plug in, Redirection.
5. Create new featured images/pins.
Nothing freshens up an old post faster than a nice, new, crisp image. Make sure all of your old posts have a featured image and a pin.
- Check out this post for a list of sites for free, high resolution images you can use for your blog.
- Check out this post for a tutorial on how to create the perfect pin.
- Supercharge your Pinterest by creating video pins with these templates.
BONUS TIP: Before uploading an image to your WordPress media files, rename them on your hard drive. The name of the image should contain your keyword. (chosen in #2) Not only does that help your SEO, it also helps optimize your pins on Pinterest.
6. Make sure alt tags are filled in.
My number one source for traffic is Pinterest. If you don’t have a social sharing plug in that customizes descriptions for each platform, Pinterest will scrape the alt tag information from your image when someone pins directly from your blog.
You don’t want your image shared on Pinterest with a blank description or whatever text the reader decided to fill in. You want to make sure that your pin will get the best start possible with the appropriate keywords and hashtags.
BONUS TIP: I have changed my social sharing plug in several times. Having the alt tag filled out, even though it wasn’t being used because of the plug-in, saved me when I was going through the process of converting.
7. Add internal links.
Chances are you have covered either the same topic or something very similar in a new post since publishing your old post.
In an effort to keep readers on your blog longer, you need to add internal links to those new posts in your old posts. And vice versa.
BONUS TIP: Be sure to use the keywords of the new post when linking to it in the old post for better SEO optimization. Do not use “click here”.
8. Add external links.
A great way to boost your domain authority is to link to a reputable site in your post, like WebMD and Huffington Post.
If you link to a post with similar keywords on a higher ranked site than yours close to where you share your own internal links with similar keywords, you boost your own SEO and DA.
9. Add an opt-in or upgrade.
Enhance your new information on your old post by adding an upgrade or an opt-in, like a checklist. That will create extra value for your reader and establish you as an expert.
Especially if your post is information heavy. People love to have a download or an easy to follow steps list. Plus, you will get their email in return!
10. Share it!
Now that your old post is new and improved, you need to get new eyes on it. One way to do that is to share it on your social media platforms. You can also link to it in your next email to your subscribers.
Note: There are some automated social sharing apps that you could use to continually rotate your shares, but most platforms now discourage their use by diminishing the reach of posts using those apps.
Facebook and Pinterest do have their own on board schedulers now. You can use those.
Some other bloggers have chosen to create their own excel spreadsheets or use Trello to keep track of their social share schedules.
It can be long and tedious work to update your old posts but it is so worth it. The next time you are suffering from writer’s block, use your time wisely. The potential to double your traffic is attainable if all the above steps are followed.
Great post! Thanks for the tips.
Thanks for the tips..It’s a great help..I will definitely try these out..
Great ideas! I’ll be using this to update my old ones – I have over 300 posts in my library. Thanks for sharing!
Great post! I know I need to go back and refresh some of my old stuff. I have some great posts that never stood a chance with beginner enthusiasm haha. I’m excited to refresh them now after reading this post! Thanks for the great advice.
Great tips that I found super helpful! I will work on updating old posts, getting rid of “click here” links and focus on keywords. Looks like I have some work cut out for me! Thanks so much!!
thanks for this great article i really like this post and nice your blog
Awesome checklist and share. I have bookmarked this page and will refer to it every time I want to update old blog posts.
Great checklist and procedure! With >1.5k posts on my site, I have some work to do! O_o
Wow! That’s a lot of posts! Good for you. Now get to work! Lol
I love this and will be updating posts this weekend. I love your blog!!
Thank you so much!
Twitter used to be so great for traffic. That tip could potentially help get it back.
I’ve just updated and shared an older blogging tips post via ‘Press This’ and used Twitter’s hashtag #ThrowbackThursday. The post was first published in July 2016 and has now had an extra 28 views since I republished it. So, I’m already getting great results from your tips, Elena.
Great idea Hugh! Thank you!
Love this post!
Elena do you suggest updating the published date or leaving it the same? I feel like I want some of the posts to go back on the front page of the blog. Does updating the published date change anything?
I never update the post date because for me it changes the URL, so be careful it doesn’t do that for you too or make sure you set up redirects. I do make a point of putting, “This post was updated on…” if it is a post where the date is important to the information. If you wish it to go back to your front page, you can write a new post instead of updating the old. Don’t worry about duplication, that’s a myth.
Thank you so much!!
Fascinating post, full of tons of great info. I so need to do this for all of our old posts so this post is perfect. Whether I get around to doing it is another thing of course.
You must make the time! It doesn’t take as long as it does to create a new post.
Really helpful post Elena thank you. I’m still very new to the SEO world. Great post
The “alt text” box is what many screen readers use to “read” the description of an image for blind and visually impaired readers. It should contain a description of the image.
Thank you for sharing that information. I didn’t know that.
Thank you for these tips. I think this post has given me the motivation to finally get working on updating my old posts. Also love your other posts- super helpful for us newbie bloggers 🙂
Thanks you so much for reading!
Thank you for this. Updating posts is now on the to-do list.
Like you needed one more thing. Lol
I feel like you wrote this post for me! Thanks. I needed it.
I did write it for you Jennifer!
Can I get Yoast on a WordPress.com site?
Only if you upgrade to the highest plan.
Ah ok cool. Don’t think I can justify a business plan for a personal blog but good to know thanks
The plan structure on dot com makes no sense as the highest level is quadruple what a plan on self-hosted would cost. I am not sure about their reasoning.
True. I guess it’s something to do with dot com do more ‘stuff’ for you in the background than on a self hosted. Maybe.
Awesome and very informative post. Will for sure take up some of your tips asap.
Thank you for an excellent post. I found several tips here that I’ve never seen anywhere else. I just added the Redirection plug-in to my blog per your recommendation.
I love that plugin. It will notify you of broken links too and helps you fix them. Broken links can affect ranking so it is good strategy to tackle them. I am glad you found some useful information in my post.
Hi Elena. This is very helpful, thank you and very timely. I only recently installed Yoast, so I’m periodically updating old posts with red and orange lights. However, I’ve been avoiding changing titles, because it automatically changes the permalink. I didn’t know about the magic of a Redirection Plugin! I shall have to research further and get that installed. Thanks so much! Sue x
You can change titles without changing the URL but I’m assuming you were taking about going all the way and changing both. I use the Redirection all the time. It’s great for notifying you about broken links too.
If I change a title, it seems to automaticall change the permalink. Perhaps it’s peculiar to my theme? I’ll check it again and maybe see if I have some settings incorrect.
Lucky you noticed that!
Reblogged this on Suzie Speaks and commented:
I’m a huge fan of doing this, and Elena’s post explains in great detail how to make it as effective as possible! Please don’t like or comment on my reblog – hop on over to Elena’s blog and say hello!
Excellent advice. On my To Do list! One question – when you update a post will the date shown be the original publish date or update date? Do you think updating date is important? (That was 2 questions!). Jill
Updating a post does not automatically change the date. If you do manually change it, and your date is in the permalink (URL), you will need to do redirects. I don’t change the date but I may add directly in the post, “This post was updated on …”, if I think it is important and relevant to the reader. For example, I do that on my posts about algorithm changes.
Thanks Elena, that’s great to know