Some things in life are timeless: Judi Dench, It’s a Wonderful Life, the smell of fresh bread.
Some things age well: good wine, Parmesan cheese, George Clooney.
And some things just don’t have what it takes: milk beyond about three days, 1970s flares, George Hamilton.
Most things that are timeless or age well probably have had a bit of a tweak along the way. Not suggesting George C has had work done (but he might have) but he’s not still rocking the look of early ER. Likewise, wine needs some tending to get it from grape juice to a vintage worth keeping.
What’s it got to do with blogging for your business?
If your business blog has been up and running for a couple of years, then you’ll have all sorts of content in there. Some you’ll still love. Some of your customers will definitely love some of the posts, which you’ll be able to see by looking at your analytics.
In any month, is it just your recent posts that sit at the top of your page views, or some stuff from further back? For example, my post on what you can learn from a fiction writer is right up there this month. But then so is a post from March 2017 on why David Hieatt said you shouldn’t hire a freelance writer.
This is, potentially, evergreen content, because it will always answer a question that people are looking to answer. In this case, should you hire a freelance writer to write your business content. The more that content is seen as a key thing for every size of business the more often that particular question might get asked. So it’s always relevant.
What if it’s relevant but a bit outdated?
This is the stuff you might want to look at. Posts that are performing well, but that are just a little behind where things are now.
It might be that your business has evolved, so you do more things now than you used to. You might have developed a stronger tone of voice for your brand, and some of the older stuff might just be a bit off for how you want to tell your stories now.
Perhaps there are details in there that are just plain old out of date. Your opening hours have changed. It quotes prices from 4 years ago. Could be any number of reasons but worth a relook.
Should you just delete an old post?
The answer is both yes, and no. It depends on a few things:
- Does it reflect the brand image you have today?
- Does it get a reasonable rate of traffic even now?
- Is it about to be relevant again? For example, if you wrote a piece around the Olympics, it might only be really relevant every four years, but don’t delete it just before the next Olympics start.
If it’s off brand image, has no traffic and no relevance, then you could well be looking at the delete button. Just stop to look at if it has any inbound, high-value links before you do. As long as it’s not brand damaging, or so far off your brand image, then those links might be worth keeping it for.
What should you update?
This is an update, not a complete rewrite. You should just have a look at what needs looking at, which could include:
- Out of date references, particularly of the moment humour or cultural references. For example, the floss was the dance of 2018, so probably worth rewriting if you’re talking about the dance of the moment.
- Timing updates. If your post says it’s two years since you launched, and it’s actually six, then time to check the details.
- Getting your tense right. You might have stuff in the present or even future tense that now very much belong in the past.
- Any bloopers, spelling mistakes or grammar gaffes. We’ve all done it.
- Dull images. Or just the old images. Something new to look at might mean people engage with the new words.
- Your on-page optimisation. Take a look at things like your meta-description and alt-image tags and see if they can work harder for you.
What to add in
It might be that you know a whole heap more about a subject now than when you wrote the original post. Perhaps there’s been new research on your chosen subject.
Things change the whole time as well. Today’s best practice is tomorrow’s outdated way of working, so you might be updating how things are done. It could also be simple things like you’ve extended your range of products or discontinued some things as well.
It might be that you understand an awful lot more about your customer than when you originally wrote the piece. You’ll know more about what their take on a subject would be or the questions they’d have about it. Make sure you cover those things off.
There might be new keywords that are relevant to your business now, so you can find ways to work those in. There might be terms that weren’t even in use when you first wrote your content. Language moves very quickly these days.
For the sake of transparency, then it’s also worth adding an editor’s note to show that it is an updated post, not a new post. Most people won’t care, won’t have read the original post, but it’s a quick and simple thing to do, and it will matter for some people.
The possibilities are endless but should reflect your content aims, and the audience you write it for.
What not to touch
There are somethings you’ve worked hard for, so don’t want to change. For example, don’t just rewrite the post in a new post. You know that Google hates duplicate content, so you’ll end up penalising yourself. You should be updating, not repeating. Keep the URL the same as well.
If you change the title, try and keep the same keywords in there. This is all about enhancing the reach of the post, not starting again.
Updating my posts
I thought I’d share an example from this blog on how I approach an update to a piece of content. It’s UK Coffee Week coming up at the end of the month, and I’d previously written a post about how to use it for creating content if you’re not in coffee.
It’s a post that gets reasonable traffic, along with another one I wrote about how to use the Content Catalyst list of dates for the month ahead. But it looked a little tired, and I also know a bit more about what people’s questions are about the subject now. So, what was the update? It’s tweaks rather than anything major but includes:
1. New images, thanks to Richard Budd
2. Some greater detail around what the aims of content should be
3. Some work on the meta description and alt-image tags to better reflect the post
I’ve then manually sent this back out to my subscribers, as MailChimp won’t pick it up as new content. This really is a key step, as there’s no point doing the work and then hoping someone will just stumble across it. Of course, you’re doing it and hoping to improve your search engine results. But there’s no harm in sending it to subscribers. Half my subscribers weren’t on the list when I published the original article, and half of those that were possibly didn’t open and engage with the original post.
The ongoing part is to look at statistic before and after the change for that page. Remember to look at your stats for inbound links, comments, shares and views for the time before you make the change, and then monitor after you republish. Make sure your work is worthwhile.
The simplest reasons for doing an update are probably speed and ease. There’s so much going on that sometimes you do need those things. It doesn’t make is sloppy or cutting corners; it can actually have a big benefit overall. So, start looking for those posts that could do with a bit of tweak, and make them a bit more Judi Dench, a little less George Hamilton.