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Are some of your old blog posts making you sick to your stomach? Do you think about those posts from a year ago and cringe? We’ve all been there, and we all wanted to delete those posts. If they don’t exist, they never happened. Right? Not really. As all know, you can’t really delete anything from the Internet. Deleting posts is so easy and quick; embarrassment gone, weight lifted, problem solved…
Not really. Deleting blog posts can be more detrimental to your blog’s growth. Here’s why:
- SEO: When you published the posts, your readers and you shared those posts on social media, and Google index that post. Links to that post exist outside of your website.
- New Visitor Experience: If you delete those posts without setting up a redirect, visitors can come to your site and get a 404 message. This error message is a far from optimal experience.
- Links within Your Posts: You might have linked to the deleted content in your other posts, and if those posts get lots of traffic, you are directing people to a 404 experience.
Each of these issues can be resolved with time and a plugin. You might still consider deleting those posts. Remember that work you put into them, do you really want to let that all go?
Solution: Update Old Posts
As part of my audit, I’ve been updating old posts with new graphics. Since I’m spending time updating these graphics, I’m also re-promoting these posts on social media. Even though these posts are not new and a little rough around the edges, my readership has grown pretty significantly over the last six months, and some new followers might not be familiar with this content.
How to Update Your Posts with Meaning
If you’ve been blogging for a while, updating posts might seem like a daunting task. I have over 100 posts and portfolio projects that I’m updating, which I know is not that bad compared to others.
First, I used Export to Excel to create a list of all of my blog posts. Then, I go through a few posts at a time and update the graphics. As part of this update, I’m creating a separate graphic that is sized and optimal for both Instagram and Facebook/Twitter. So now, my blog post template process includes one post for the blog (optimal for Pinterest + Google+), a square version for Instagram, and a long horizontal version for Facebook/Twitter.
Once I have the updated the graphic, I update any text (including links), YOAST settings, tags, and categories in the post. Once the post is cleaned up, I then schedule it using CoSchedule (Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Google+), Latergrame (Instagram), and Tailwind (Pinterest). I have a separate editorial calendar for past posts, so I try to promote one past post a day with one new post. Even though the post is old, I’m able to generate a significant number of pageviews from the updated content – about 70-80% pageviews compared to a new post.
Updating is time intensive. That’s why deleting posts seems like such a nice option. My approach to updating rather than deleting comes back to my whole philosophy with the brand and business audit. It’s about editing and improving what I have. I’m done with starting over. Starting over limits growth. Auditing allows you to grow from what you’ve already achieved.
The other advantage of this approach is that even if I don’t have a blog post go live on a certain day, I can still drive traffic to my site through the promotion of an old post. Some days it seems a lot easier to promote an old post than it is to write a completely new one.
What If Your Blog Does not Use Templates
Let’s say you are a style or food blogger, how do you update your old posts? Well, the most important question to ask yourself is – what don’t you like about those posts? Just “not liking” them is not enough. If you want to delete a post, identify the reason(s) you want to delete the post, then determine how you will resolve those issues. I’ve addressed some of the common issues below…
Photographs: If you hate the photographs of those past posts, you could include fewer photographs, re-edit the photos, or even re-shoot. Re-shoot might be the most extreme, so I would consider the first two before re-shooting.
Categories: If you’ve changed your blogging direction for example gone from lifestyle blogging to more specifically food blogging, you can still keep those post. Just re-categorize them to make sure they don’t interfere with your current direction.
Content: If the past post lacked clarity and direction, update it! Add to it! There is nothing wrong with creating a revision!
Links: Update affiliate links for old posts!
After All That, You Still Want to Delete Your Posts.
You might have some outliers. You cannot save horrendous posts (I’ve had my share). Make sure you have the tools necessary to prevent the situations listed at the top of this post. I recommend using Broken Link Checker and the premium version of YOAST SEO to help you manage redirects. Just as you would with your new content, after you update old posts, you want to resubmit your sitemap to Google Search Console.