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How to Update a Blog Post for Better Traffic, Money, and Email Subscribers
Do you have hundreds of posts on your site that don't get any traffic? Don't delete old blog posts – update them for even better traffic!
On Clarks Condensed, we have nearly 2000 published posts.
However, the majority of our traffic definitely is driven to probably about 20 posts.
I mean, I get traffic to a lot of my other posts, but sometimes I think, "It would be nice if I got this same traffic to even 20 more posts!"
Over the past few months, I've spent a of time updating my older posts.
Some of them are posts that are already doing well, while others are ones that I think have potential to do well.
I've come up with a strategy that I feel really does help these old posts perform better, so I thought I'd share how to update old blog posts to (hopefully) increase traffic).
Affiliate links are used in this post, and I receive a small commission for purchases made from them. They are provided for your convenience.
Editing Old Blog Posts: What to Do
Deciding Which Post
How I decided to update a post depends on a few different factors:
- Post topics that have historically done well on my site
- Search Engine Potential
Lately, I've been going back and finding posts that have the potential to do well in the next few months based on the seasons/holidays coming up.
I also go back to my more popular topics (such as pregnancy) and update those posts. I have a lot of luck with this topic on my blog, so it's one that I find worthwhile to update.
Lately I have been going back a year in my archives and look for posts that didn't get the traffic I expected.
It's also important to find posts that you could potentially rank better for. I learned a great strategy for doing this through the #Jeff SEO course I mention below (but you'll have to sign up for the class to find that out!).
Updating a post to be better received by search engines is one of the most impactful things you can do for updating a blog post…in my opinion.
I've focused a lot on SEO over the past year. I've seen a huge increase in the traffic I get from search engines, and I tend to prefer it over social media traffic (it's a little more reliable than social media…Pinterest, I'm looking at you).
I've done a lot of reading and watching. One of my favorite websites is Neil Patel's website. He is a genius Internet marketer, and he shares really informative and helpful articles and videos. Whenever I read one post, it's like going down a rabbit hole – I can't stop.
Beyond that, I've lately purchased two resources that have been very enlightening as well:
Sprinting the Blogger Marathon – This book was written by a fellow blogger – Sabrina, from Dinner, then Dessert. Sabrina is the perfect example of someone who threw her whole heart and soul into growing her blog, and she has been extremely successful. Although her book isn't just about SEO, I found her tips for SEO and Pinterest to be particularly helpful. She is a food blogger, and much of the book is focused on that, but I've applied her principals to different niches.
#Jeff SEO Course – I finally signed up for this course after several blogger friends recommended it. I'm so glad I did! I'll admit that a lot of the information has been a refresher for me, but there have been some very helpful tips and tricks – especially for when it comes to finding which content I should update for search engines. You also get access to the private Facebook group, and Jeff is always willing to answer questions. It is available for a monthly subscription, as new content is always being added.
I have found that updating old blog posts for SEO seem to help them rank higher more quickly than when I'm trying to rank with a new post. Not gonna lie – it's nice to be able to just update an old post rather than create a whole new one (though I do that plenty, too!).
Anyways, for SEO updates. I've been using these methods for about a year now, though I've tweaked it a bit overtime:
First, I do keyword research using Serpstat, which is my preferred keyword research tool. They have a free version, but I took advantage of this deal, which makes it around $30 for a lifetime membership (this is still available through mid-October 2017). It isn't their top tier, but I haven't found anything I don't like about it. I will do a more indepth tutorial on how I use this tool at a later date.
I start keyword research by putting a pretty generic term in. For instance, when I was updating my caramel buttercream frosting post, I typed in "caramel frosting", and I went from there.
I typically find a main keyword with a competition level under 20-25, and then 2-4 supporting keywords as well. I also like to see what other websites are currently ranking for that term – if they are mainly other bloggers, I usually feel I have a good chance of making my way to the front page.
After I add these to my post, I track the keywords in Serpstat (go to Projects, Rank tracker, Positions to add keywords you want to monitor) so I can see the improvements. It's a bit addicting! I LOVE seeing my rankings go up.
I typically will update the title of my post, add some H2 and H3 tags, and try and naturally incorporate the keywords throughout the entire post. You only want one H1 tag in your post (and that, by default, is typically your post title). If you are unsure how to use Header Tags, I highly recommend reading this post. I also update the alt tag of my images to be my main keyword or variations if I have a lot of pictures.
I also try to use numbered lists and bullet points where possible. If you go to Google, you will often see that the first thing that shows up for a search term is a highlighted website excerpt with bullets or numbers.
You may also consider increasing the word count of the post. An average post I write is over 1000 words – typically more, especially my posts that rank well on Google.
I updated my meta information (what shows up in Google search). I use the Yoast SEO plugin, which puts an SEO box below my post composer. Here, I make sure I included my main keyword in the title and in the description. I keep these concise by interesting so they stand out to other people.
After doing this, I republish the post (more on that in a second), and I submit the post through Google Webmaster tools.
I do not typically update my permalinks for a post. If you do this, make sure you set up a 301 redirect. There are many WordPress plugins that do this.
When I go through old posts to update them, I try and update links.
First off all, I make sure all of the links I currently have are still working. With Amazon links, I check to make sure that product is still available. I also update the Amazon links to be to a product search page, as opposed to a specific product.
I then see if there are any new opportunities for affiliate links – especially if it is something that is something not available on Amazon. I love Amazon affiliates, but sometimes, other programs can be more lucrative.
I will update old sponsored content (if my contract permits it) with new links (often affiliate), and perhaps more relevant information.
I also check to see if there are any external links that I can change to new posts I've written on my blog. I have been trying to limit the number of external links I have in a post, simply because I want Google to see my site as the authority. If I link a lot to other sites, it may seem that I'm less of an authority. With that said, I do try and incorporate high quality backlinks to other sites when appropriate.
Finally, I incorporate backlinks to my own content. I don't try and spam the post with it – but if there's a relevant place, I put them in with the keywords for that post. I also add related posts at the end of the post (or sometimes, after a section if the content is set up like that).
Social Media Updates
I try and do a few things to update my social media for the posts.
Mainly, I update my Pinterest image if I don't feel it's clear – the image, the text, etc. I've been trying to redo any Pinterest images that have the text going over the picture, because I just don't feel that this looks very good, and I used to do it a lot. I make sure my Pinterest image has lots of good keywords and even a few hashtags (since those are now relevant on Pinterest again!).
I use the paid plugin called Social Warfare. This is my preferred social media plugin for various reasons, but I like that it makes it easy to put images and descriptions for Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. I just make sure these are showing what I want them to.
I don't update the photos for every post, but if it's a really old recipe post, I try and update the pictures to something more appealing. I also typically make a new Pinterest image that goes more with my "theme" that I usually go with for Pinterest images. I've found that 750×1800 works best (I know that's not what the "experts" say, but it works for me!)
I try to have 3-5 images in recipe posts. My more informational posts tend to have less, but sometimes I do try and add some stock photography in to break up the text. I have been using Stencil lately for this, because they have a great library of stock photography that you can use with no attribution. My brother and sister-in-law put together this great post on free stock photography websites, if you like to use stock photography.
I've been working a lot on my growing my email list this past year, so I will often look at the post I'm updating and see if there's anything I can do to make people sign up for my list.
For instance, with this Birthday Poster, I used to offer it for free. However, when I was updating it a few months ago, I made it so people had to signup for my newsletter in order to get the freebie. I've gotten many new subscribers from doing this. I've done this with a lot of posts, and the result is always similar. I cringe to think about all the email subscribers I missed out on!
I use MailerLite as my newsletter/email delivery system. I really like them, and I feel they have great features for a very affordable price. It's free for the first 1000 subscribers.
I also use Thrive Themes lead generation plugin to get new subscribers. It has it's quirks, but it's a one time fee and works great – especially for creating so many different optin forms.
Republishing Old Blog Posts
After the entire post has been updated, I republish it. Please note that you SHOULD NOT do this if you have dates in your permalink structure. If you don't, go right ahead and republish your post.
This signals to Google that the post is still relevant. If the last time a post was updated was five years ago, Google may not find that as helpful as one that was updated today.
Finally, I promote the post! I do my typical promotion strategy – Pinterest, Twitter, sometimes Instagram or an Instagram story, Flipboard, and Facebook.
If it's a recipe, it will automatically be sent out to my recipe newsletter the next day; for other posts, I just make note to promote it in an upcoming newsletter.