Content maintenance: the unsexy side of blogging.

Listen to the audio version on SoundCloud

Done well, updating blog posts can drive maximum benefit with minimal effort.

Writing, editing, creating, pumping out and marketing new content is usually our main focus as bloggers. We find out what our readers want, write a quality post then publish and market it. If it’s evergreen content, we schedule it to re-share on our social channels at a future date. The cycle continues. We create and promote more content.

When we have limited time to work on our blogs, we get caught up in the idea that we need to spend most, if not all of that time, working on new content. Feed the beast, so to speak.

But we spend so much time in the present looking forward we forget about what we published in the past. I know I do.

A year or 2 or 5 later, our posts are languishing. Perhaps unloved, ignored and untended. Or perhaps one of our older posts becomes one of our most visited posts, but we’ve not optimised it to capture our readers’ email addresses via a sign-up form, or we’re missing out on an opportunity to generate income by adding a helpful affiliate link.

Our writing style evolves over time. We become better writers. Our content improves. We learn new strategies and improve the way we do things and how we engage our readers. 

If you’ve been blogging for a while, you might look back at some of your earliest blog posts and cringe a little (or a lot!)

One of my blogs is more than 10 years old. There’s plenty there to cringe about. But that’s OK, I can see how far I’ve come over the years.

While content maintenance is the unsexy side of blogging, it's one task where you can usually get instant benefits. #blogging #blogger #blog Click To Tweet

Content maintenance might represent the unsexy side of blogging, but it’s one where you can get instant benefits and can be much easier to do than writing new content. Some of this post might be telling you how to suck eggs, but who knows? There might be some fresh ideas here you hadn’t considered.

Regularly scheduling time to assess and enhance our older posts can pay off in many ways and more so than creating new content.

But there’s no point overhauling pages where there’s no value in it for you or your readers, which leads me to my next point.

Updating old blog posts

Set criteria for which posts to update

Not all posts are created equal. Knowing which posts are worth investing your time in reviewing and updating is the first step in the renewal process. You don’t want to waste your efforts on a post that receives very little traffic and where there’s little chance to improve that traffic.

My first step is to always check Google Analytics for my top-performing pages. It’s best to invest time on posts that are already performing well and getting traffic.

The next step is to decide what I want to get out of the blog refresh.

  • More traffic?
  • More affiliate sales?
  • More newsletter signups?
  • More sales?
  • Not be embarrassed by sloppy content?
  • Fix out-of-date and incorrect information?
  • Get rid of content that no longer fits with my current focus?

Think about what’s important to the goals for your blog. Decide which criteria are critical. Weight it or score it.  

For me, I’m all about building my newsletter list (come and join – I send weekly emails to help improve your writing) so I will focus on posts that already get significant traffic and look at how I can get even more traffic and convert that traffic to sign-ups to my mailing list.

Your criteria might look something like this:

The page must:

  • get 500+ visits per month
  • be in my top 10 most visited pages
  • rank in the first 5 spots in search engine results pages (SERPs)
  • not already be optimised for newsletter sign-ups

Setting criteria for a keyword refresh

If I have a post that gets 2000 views per month and it’s ranking highly for some keywords with decent search volume and driving organic traffic, it’s worth investing a little of my time in content maintenance. I would research further to see if there are:

  • related keywords I’m not currently ranking for that I could rank for
  • which keywords I’m already ranking for where I could improve their ranking and theoretically get more of the Google pie

This could help drive even more traffic to that post and should also drive more sign-ups. It’s also worth seeing how well that post is optimised for capturing emails and considering a related opt-in I could offer to entice people to sign up. Is there anything else I can do to get more sign-ups?

Keep in mind the figures are all relative. 2000 visits per post is a lot for me, but someone else might consider 2000 visits a tiny dribble of organic traffic if their blog is getting 500,000 visits a month.

If pages meet the criteria you set, it’s ideal for giving it a keyword overhaul to drive more traffic, which will help meet your goal for that page, whether that’s to sell a service or drive newsletter sign-ups. See my next point.

Give your page a keyword overhaul

An SEO tip for driving more traffic to your site is to identify your site’s most popular pages (those that meet your criteria above) and review the keywords you’re currently ranking for.

My friend Sharon Gourlay from DigitalNomadWannabe has posted an excellent tutorial on how to do this and it includes a video for using Google Search Console (GSC).

In summary, you:

  • check GSC for the keywords you’re ranking for and in which position
  • find keywords you’re ranking for that are not actually in your text but that you could add to your page
  • find keywords you’re ranking for that are in your page but could be optimised to improve your rank for those keywords

Head on over to Sharon’s site for her excellent step-by-step instructions.

Check your call to action (CTA)

Does your post have a clear call to action?

Every blog post should have ONE clear call to action. If you include too many CTAs, your reader won’t know what you want them to do and it can look like a scrambled mess.

Give them just one thing to do. What do you want your reader to do once they’ve read your page?

Be explicit. Tell them exactly what you want them to do.

Do you want your audience to:

  • Comment?
  • Email you?
  • Sign up to your mailing list?
  • Share the post?
  • Read another blog post?
  • Buy something?
  • Download something?

Ensure your blog posts has one clear CTA that tells your readers what to do next.

You could try experimenting with how you include those CTAs. Rather than a text link, add a link on a button to draw your reader’s eye.

If you’re selling or promoting a product, add the link to images as well (if you haven’t already).

Change the placement of your CTA. Is it getting missed at the bottom of your post? Add it to the middle.

Keep track of what works and do more of that. That’s always a good strategy.

Assess how your blogging process has changed since you published your post

As your blog grows so do you. You learn more things, you apply new strategies and use new tools to improve your posts. Your whole blogging style evolves.

How has your blogging process evolved since you first published your first blog posts?

For example, you might have added the ‘Better Click to Tweet’ plugin and started adding Tweetable quotes to your latest posts, but your earlier posts don’t have this feature. 

If you started a Pinterest account mid-way through your blogging journey, then it might be time to create Pinterest images and add fresh pins from your older posts to Pinterest. 

Perhaps now you’re adding affiliate links to your posts and there are dozens or more from your earlier days of blogging that could be monetised. 

Compare a few of your old posts to your new posts to see how your blogging style and structure has changed. Make a list of tasks to make your pages more consistent and a better experience for your readers.

You don’t need to do everything at once. But you could come up with a range of tasks to chip away at when you have a spare 10 minutes here and 20 minutes there. When I don’t have the time or brain space to write a new post, having a go-to list of action items, things I can tick off in 10 or 20 minutes, means stuff will get done.

Add new information

As you blog grows, so do you.

You learn.

A lot.

I look at some of the content I wrote even just a year ago and see straightaway where I could improve it with new knowledge or hone my editorial style to be more like what it is today.

But it’s not just style that changes — it’s information, too.

Things might no longer be factually correct since you published the post. Tools you recommended that were once free might no longer be free or available. Processes might be different so the steps you wrote, screengrabs you captured or videos you made might be out-of-date. New research on a particular topic might have emerged, making what you wrote last year, obsolete. You might have changed your opinion on something you felt strongly about in the past.

As part of your assessment, check that the information in your blog post is factually correct and up-to-date. 

Even if things haven’t changed, maybe you could add more information to enhance your post.

Spice it up with a quote from an authority on the topic. You’ve no doubt made more connections along the way and you might know the perfect person to reach out to.

Updating your existing content is key to not only making the best use of your time but also giving a great experience to your readers. Updating content is quicker than writing from scratch and it shows Google your content is up to date and quality. It’s also better than a reader landing on a post that is out of date and no longer helpful.

Sharon Gourlay, www.digitalnomadwannabe.com

Fix broken links

Is anything more frustrating as a user than ending up on a website’s error page?

Check that your internal and external links still work and go to the page you intended.

Use a free tool like Crawly.app to scan your site for broken links and fix them.

Maintaining links is an important part of content governance and your overall SEO strategy.

I checked this site and found 4 broken links, which I’ve since fixed.

Embed a sign-up form

If you don’t have one already, consider embedding a sign-up form in your post to capture email addresses from readers who like your stuff. If you don’t have a mailing list, you totally should!

Your form needs to be GDPR compliant to cover you for EU citizens who sign up for your newsletter or download your giveaway.

But don’t insert any old default sign-up form.

Craft one for the specific post. I put a tailored sign-up form in the middle of a popular post. I figure if someone’s read that far, they’re likely interested in my content.

Like this one:

Create an opt-in to capture readers who enjoy your content

Think about what will make the experience even richer for your reader. Even better than an embedded sign-up form is an enticing opt-in, something you create to complement and enhance your blog post.

Brainstorm some ideas. Things to consider include:

  • a checklist
  • a worksheet or a workbook
  • a pretty, print-version of the blog post
  • a template
  • a short eBook on a related topic

For example, one of my most popular posts is ‘How to outline a blog post‘. Because my focus is all about gaining subscribers, I added a blogging template I sell for $9.90 as an opt-in to that page and it’s improved my sign-up rates. Sure, some people download the template and then unsubscribe straightaway. But that’s OK, I’m not right for them right now or they’re not my target reader. I’ve received some lovely emails from people who loved the template and the way I presented the information.

Why don’t you head on over to that outlining post and grab a copy of the template for yourself?

Turn your blog post into an audio post

First Google moved to mobile-first indexing and now with the rise and rise of voice searching and Google including podcasts in search results, consider creating an audio version of your post.

My most popular post on this blog is ‘Social media is killing creativity‘.

I created an audio version of the post and uploaded it to SoundCloud and embedded the recording in that post. I wonder if the audio version is what gave it the boost it needed to rank in the top spot for a number of juicy keywords.

I intended to record an audio version of every blog post. But you know. Busy creating new content… 🙄

Use free editing software like Audacity to edit your audio recording and use a free SoundCloud account to host your audio files, at least to get you started.

At the time of publishing this post, Soundcloud offers 3 hours of free hosting. If each blog post represents 5 minutes of audio, you can host 36 blog posts before you have to pay. I don’t think their annual fees are too high.

Bring out your mic and get recording🎙️

Add affiliate links that solve a problem for your reader

Why do people read your content? Chances are, you’re solving a problem for your reader, even if that problem is temporary boredom.

Sometimes solving a problem involves recommending products or services.

For example, on my hiking blog, I sometimes recommend products I’ve used and loved and explain why. I include affiliate links to the company that supplies the products. If my reader buys the product via the link on my site, I get a small percentage of the sale for directing my reader to them. That’s affiliate marketing. Sometimes I recommend books on this blog and I get a small commission from the bookseller if someone buys it.

There’s nothing icky about it.

The only time affiliate marketing can get icky is when it’s either rammed down your throat or the blogger is only marketing a product for the sale and doesn’t believe in the product they’re promoting.

If you’re not already doing affiliate marketing through your blog, consider what products or services you know, like and trust that you could recommend to your readers. Search for the product or service name ‘+affiliate’ and see what comes back in the search results. If they have an affiliate program, join it.

If you’re in Australia, you can also check out an affiliate marketing network like Commission Factory (that’s my affiliate link — if you join and make a sale, I’ll get a tiny kickback at no cost to you). They have 100s of brands in their affiliate program looking for bloggers to promote their products and services.

If you’re already an affiliate, how could you connect more readers to them more effectively while being helpful and without coming across like a slippery salesperson?

Turn your blog post into a presentation

SlideShare is a way of sharing your knowledge via a presentation.

Could you whip up your blog post as a presentation in PowerPoint or some other slide-building software and upload it to Slideshare? Bonus points for making it look pretty AND engaging. No one wants to experience death by PowerPoint. You can embed your Slideshare presentation into your blog post.

Slideshare is now a part of LinkedIn, which Microsoft owns. Include your branding and URL to drive people back to your site.

Add an infographic or checklist to your page

Infographics are still really popular. I see them on Pinterest and social media all the time.

Is your post infographic-worthy? You could outsource the design to a graphic designer, but you still need to come up with the key information to convey.

Or if you have some visual literacy, you could use a tool like RelayThat (my new favourite), Canva or Visme (I’m an affiliate for Visme) to create an infographic or a simpler checklist.

Once you’ve created your visual asset and added it to your blog post:

  • share and promote it via your social channels as a standalone item
  • add it to Pinterest
  • use your checklist as an opt-in to encourage newsletter sign-ups

Make your post prettier

How to update blog posts for maximum benefit and with minimal effort
Pin it to save this post for later

If you’re like me and more about words than how something looks, chances are your blog posts might look kind of dull, too. I have to remind myself to add images and focus on making my content look appealing as well as writing appealing content.

Appeal to your highly visual readers with some interesting images to brighten your post.

Images are always a great opportunity to add keywords to your image title. Don’t upload something like ‘image026’ because that tells search engine bots nothing about your image.

Add your keywords to the alt tag, too.

Optimise your images before you upload them. Large image sizes can slow down your page speed and this can have a negative effect on your search engine ranking. I use the WP Smush It plugin but also resize images before uploading them. Sorry if this is telling you how to suck eggs!

Adding Pinterest pins is a great way to make your blog post more visually interesting while also encouraging others to share your post on Pinterest.

Create your own content maintenance checklist

I hope you’ve found a fresh idea or more in this post that you can use for updating blog posts. I’m sure you can think of more things you could be doing than what I’ve included here.

Once you’ve set your criteria for choosing which posts to work on, put together your own checklist of ways you can improve your blog.

For example, here are some of the things I can do while updating blog posts:

☐ Create an infographic

☐ Create at least 3 Pinterest graphics and schedule them in Tailwind

☐ Add ‘Click to Tweet’ tweetable quotes

☐ Embed a tailored sign-up form as the main CTA

☐ Record an audio version of your content and embed it

☐ Make a video to demonstrate instructions written in your post

☐ Make a video to capture the post’s highlights and key message, upload it to YouTube and share it on social media channels

☐ Create and upload a presentation of the post to Slideshare

☐ Check GSC for keywords to add to boost your page’s search engine ranking

☐ Make an enticing, tailored opt-in

☐ Add affiliate links that will help your audience

☐ Fix broken links

☐ Delete or replace out-of-date content

☐ Edit the page in line with your current editorial style

Let me know in the comments if you’ve found any ideas here that you’ll roll out on your blog.

Sandra


    10 replies to "Updating blog posts"

    • Ruth

      Great Post Sandra , so useful and a great timesaver long term.

      • Sandra

        Thanks, Ruth. I’m glad you found my post useful 🙂

    • Phil Cobb

      Wow, as the expression goes, You covered the waterfront! Lots of great material. Thanks.

      • Sandra

        Awesome! I’m glad you got a lot of out of it. Thanks for stopping by 🙂
        Sandra

    • Jessica Adams

      Good points. Old posts need love too!

      • Sandra

        They sure do!

    • Lila Diller

      Wow, this was great content!! Squarespace has recently updated its SEO strategy, and I knew I needed to go back and update my posts–but two years worth?? I was overwhelmed with where to start. Now I have a strategy to start with the posts that are still getting traffic. Thank you, this was so helpful and timely!

      • Sandra

        Hi Lila,

        I’m glad you found my post helpful. Those 10-20 minute tasks are truly the sweet spot to getting stuff done. Good luck with overhauling your most popular pages.

        Sandra

    • Naomi Lisa Shippen

      Lots of great tips here! I have signed up for your newsletter and pinned this blog for future reference. In particular, I like the idea of the call to action button. I know I often find this helpful and if I have enjoyed the post, i am happy to oblige.

      • Sandra

        Thank you on all fronts, Naomi.

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