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Blog Improvement Project Week #17: Update Old Posts

2009bip-150x210One thing that’s awesome about blogs is that they can potentially live on forever. Posts you wrote a month, a year, two or three years ago even, are still out there for people to find and read. This phenomenon also presents a challenge for bloggers — making sure old content is still accurate and updated so anyone who comes to your blog sees a great post.

While this is especially true for people who comment on news or give advice, I think book bloggers can take a cue from it. That’s why the BIP task for this week is to find an old post and update it. Here are a few articles with some advice on how to do that:

  • Interlink Your Old Blog Posts (ProBlogger) — In this post, Darren suggests updating old posts to link to other posts on your blog on similar topics. This way, readers stay on your site longer because posts give then further reading to ponder.  He gives good suggestions on how to do this, I highly recommend reading this post before you start.
  • How To Update Your Old Posts (Stefan Nilsson) — This post suggests a number of things you can update in your old posts including fixing links, adding new information, and linking to new posts. He also suggests making a link round up of best old posts after you’ve updated a few so new readers can get links to some of your old content.
  • Increase Page Rank by Revitalizing Your Old Posts (The Blog Herald) — This post frames the issue as one of search engine rankings, but gives a very, very long list of techniques and ideas for updating old posts. This post is another must read before you get started.

One blogging “best practice” I read about awhile ago suggested that every day you should go back to the post you wrote a year ago that same day and update it if necessary. That way, your blog will be in a sort of constant state of updating which is important since blog posts can potentially live forever. That’s more work than I’m asking this time though; your task, should you choose to accept it, goes as follows:

1. Find an old post that gets a lot of traffic. If you have WordPress, this is as easy as looking at your stats and seeing the most viewed. I’m not sure if there is a way to do this in Blogger, so anyone who knows help me out!

2. Re-read the post and figure out how you might update it. Have you covered this topic again more recently? Do you have posts on similar topics? Do all the links work? Is the picture still awesome? Whatever, there are lots of ways to do this.

3. Update the post! If you’re feeling excited, find a way to promote it (via Twitter, a link on your blog, something like that).

4. Come back and put the link to your updated post in Mr. Linky. I’ll do a wrap up post at the end of this topic with links to all of the updated posts. (If you update more than one post, put links to all of them and all will be included).

My plan for this project, if you’re interested, is to update the post that consistently gets the most traffic — a piece from last year called “Bite Me! A Feminist Criticism of Twilight.” It makes me laugh that this is my most-viewed post since I didn’t put any time into it; I just did an excerpt from the article and a couple of comments and frankly, I don’t care about Twilight at all. Those books have almost nothing to do with the regular content of my blog.

But every week the post is consistently most viewed, most searched for, and still gets comments. I’m going to go back and, I think, add some more links to other literary criticisms of Twilight and link to my review of Twilight, but otherwise I’m not sure how to updated it. I’ll take suggestions 🙂 Any I may find a few more posts, we’ll see what time looks like this week.

Anyway, good luck this week! Questions, comments, concerns? Send me an e-mail or leave a comment below. I’m looking forward to reading your updated posts!

UPDATED TO ADD: Rebecca (Rebecca Reads) made a comment below saying that rewriting old reviews seemed like too much for this particular task, which is an excellent point. I just wanted to clarify that updating an old post isn’t about rewriting or redoing it — it’s about making sure old posts are clean so new visitors that see them don’t get turned off by something as simple as a broken link or missing picture. And you should be clear about your updates if they’re big in some way (like this addition — notice the “UPDATED TO ADD” note 🙂 ) Good luck!

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Nymeth September 8, 2009, 5:09 pm

    I’ve just finished reading this a couple of minutes ago – might be worth including in your update! http://www.thefword.org.uk/features/2009/09/feminism_and_th

    Blogger users can see what their most viewed content is via sites like google analytics or sitemeter, but not if they don’t use those, I don’t think.

    • Kim September 8, 2009, 8:58 pm

      Thanks for the article Nymeth; I just skimmed it now and it looks great. I like the idea of adding that to the Twilight post.

  • Monica September 8, 2009, 5:10 pm

    If you use Wordpress (.org), one plugin I love is the “Broken Link Checker”. It’s really useful for helping you keep those old posts accurate.

  • Rebecca Reid September 8, 2009, 7:49 pm

    I’m hesitant to rewrite any of my reviews: they are a snapshot in time, and even that really embarrassing one that I wish I hadn’t written is still left as is: it was how I felt about the book when I read at that point.

    I wouldn’t mind going back and changing links, but I don’t think I’m up to rewriting. Maybe putting a disclaimer or adding links to the bottom, but not more than that.

    • Kim September 8, 2009, 8:00 pm

      No, I wouldn’t re-write posts or reviews either, Rebecca. I perhaps should have made that more clear in the idea of the task. The idea of this is to do stuff like updating links that don’t work, maybe adding more links to other reviews of a book, or fixing spelling mistakes (one of my common mistakes, unfortunately). It’s about making sure old posts are still clean, so if it’s the first impression someone gets of your blog they don’t get turned off by something annoying like a missing picture or a broken link to the text of an article you’re referring to.

      In updating my Twilight post, I’m planning to put something on the bottom that says “UPDATED TO ADD” with the date I’m working on it, something I’ve done on a few post in the past anyway if new information came up after I wrote the original post.

      Really great point though, thank you. I’m going to update this post to add the clarification since rewriting reviews isn’t at all what I intended to suggest 🙂

      • Rebecca Reid September 8, 2009, 8:09 pm

        sorry, maybe I’m reading through google reader too fast. Trying to catch up after vacation. I guess I just misunderstood in my quick perusal of the idea. I think I am going to add the plugin!

        • Kim September 8, 2009, 8:59 pm

          Oh no, not at all, that wasn’t really clear in the first post. Hopefully it is now 🙂

  • Anastasia September 8, 2009, 8:38 pm

    I really like the idea of finding a post from a year ago and updating it each day. (Not that I’ve been blogging for more than a year.) I recently went back to some of my most popular posts and added a few more links to them, and I don’t see a problem doing that with some other posts, too. 😀

    One question, though: would you, as a blog reader, find it weird to find links in an old post that directed you to a newer post? I frequently reference old posts in my new posts, but I’ve never seen the opposite outside of posts that weren’t part of a series already. (Hope that makes sense.)

    For a suggestion: Maybe if someone didn’t want to rewrite/edit a review, and they had no broken links or pictures, they could find someone else who reviewed that same book and add the link to their post?

    • Rebecca Reid September 8, 2009, 8:41 pm

      Anastasia, I have a wordpress plugin that adds related posts automatically: Yet Another Related Posts Plugin. found here: http://mitcho.com/code/yarpp/ I personally have mine set to link to posts before or after it. I don’t think it’s weird to see that.

      I personally think it would be very hard to go back and do it after the fact without a plugin.

      • Anastasia September 8, 2009, 9:00 pm

        Ah, but plugins only work with paid Wordpress blogs and mine’s a freebie. 😀 I do have a thing that generates probably-related posts but it hardly ever links within my own blog (links to someone else’s post that’s probably-related).

        I wouldn’t mind checking out a post of mine every day or so and seeing if I can link forward somehow. I already do it when I review another book in a series, so it wouldn’t be too much trouble, I think. However, not sure what good it’d do, necessarily, with unpopular posts.

    • Kim September 8, 2009, 9:02 pm

      That’s a good question, Anastasia. I think it depends how you do the updating. I mean, I wouldn’t find it weird if there was a note indicating the links were added to the original post at a date in the future (updated to add, or something). Problogger does that a lot, actually, and I like it.

      I’m generally for transparency in blogging, so if you make changes to a post or something let people know about it. If it’s noted, I feel like it’s not confusing, but other people might have a different opinion on that one. I’d be curious to hear.

      • Anastasia September 9, 2009, 9:32 pm

        I don’t think I’d care if it was just adding a link to another review; it’s not significantly affecting the original post and if a blogger kept mentioning how many links they’ve added (or whatever), I think I’d be really annoyed. The same with typos and such. If they rewrote part of the review entirely, however, an update note might be useful and even needed.

  • softdrink September 8, 2009, 8:53 pm

    This is very timely, since my move from blogger to wordpress created all sorts of havoc. Thanks for the links to the articles…I’m definitely saving this post for future reference!

    • Kim September 8, 2009, 9:04 pm

      My moved did too Jill, but probably not as much as a Blogger to Wordpress would have. Initially, the link structure for posts on the new blog was different (everything that came after sophisticateddorkiness.com/…..) so any links to old posts wouldn’t work — luckily I figured out how to fix that! It might be a good practice for you to go back to a post in the past each day and do some updating.

  • Jackie (Farm Lane Books) September 9, 2009, 11:05 am

    This is a great idea. I have often thought about doing it, but so far haven’t got round to it. Thanks for the encouragement!

    • Kim September 9, 2009, 3:49 pm

      No problem Jackie, I hope it’s a helpful process for you!

  • Anastasia September 9, 2009, 9:34 pm

    I ran (figuratively, of course) back over here because, checking my stats for today, I’ve gotten two hits on a review I haven’t ever had a hit on since the first month it was posted, and I think it was because I added in a link to another review (you can see I’m biased now for what I said on my comment up there). I haven’t even linked to it in the Mr. Linky in this post. SOMETHING has happened all on its own and now I’m fascinated.

    What’s happened with everyone else? Anything unusual yet wonderful?

    • Kim September 10, 2009, 11:05 am

      That’s cool, congrats! Do you have any way of knowing where the link was coming from (from the person you linked to or because it got grabbed in a search engine)? I’m curious about the search engine part of it because I know nothing about that.

  • Melissa @ Melissa's Bookshelf September 10, 2009, 5:42 am

    Thanks for a great post! I just went back and started going through some of my first reviews, reformatting them, etc. I had noticed that Google wasn’t indexing as many pages from my site as it used to, so hopefully this will help!!

    • Kim September 10, 2009, 11:06 am

      Yeah, I hope so. I’m not entirely sure about how Google indexing works, but I updating old posts certainly can’t help. And more links between posts and to posts outside your blog is good for indexing, I believe.

  • Jodie September 10, 2009, 3:12 pm

    I’ve been popping about updating a few posts this week so I thought I’d just drop a comment rather than link up to them. I’ve changed posts that used to link to reviews elsewhere to have the full review, because the sites they were at have closed down. I’ve also linked some posts to related content. I think I want to work on adding more links to alternate reviews for each book (time) and I still have to see if I have the text for my review of ‘The Sugar Queen’ stored somewhere because the place it was hosted went down. Great idea to contonuously update btw, just need to remember to prioritise it.

  • Sherrie September 13, 2009, 11:22 am

    Hi Kim,
    I have got mine posted. You can see it at my place, Just Books. Have a great day!


  • Julia Smith September 18, 2009, 8:39 pm

    Just did this one, Kim – I concentrated on updating my book reviews archives and making the reviews easier to find by genre, author name and title.

  • Sharon September 23, 2009, 3:54 pm

    Good idea Kim. I just posted what I’m working on.