Why you should be republishing your old blog posts
Maybe you work too hard?
It’s the end of the day, you’re exhausted – all you want to do is veg out and watch Marie Kondo spark joy in someone else’s cluttered bedroom.
Instead, you’re writing a new blog.
You know your blog is important, but maybe there’s an easier way? A way that could even get you better results.
We call republishing old blog posts “re-loving”.
Before I get to that, I want to explain a very powerful discovery we’ve made at BlogWorks.
But what we discovered is that the good old Pareto 80/20 principle is hard at work. And about 20% of their posts (these are the “hot” topics) attract about 80% of the traffic.
Your blog and the 80/20 principle
Think about it: if you knew that 20% of the products in your store or services were hot sellers, you’d promote them more, right? Of course you would.
But, of course, nobody bothers to check the data (not you, of course) because the data is hidden in the techie world of Google Analytics.
So, there you are: sweating over another blog post and not knowing what topics are hot topics.
Let’s fix that…
How to re-love your old posts
The strategy with republishing old blog posts is to give each article a quick make-over to update the content, refresh the look and then to republish with a new date. And the goal is more traffic and you get a blog posted without a lot of effort.
Before, I get into the steps that we use, I want to emphasize “without a lot of effort” – this can either be a four hour project or a 30 minute one. Your goal is the latter. That means one cup of tea, coffee or glass of wine, but not longer than 30 minutes.
Boundaries created, let’s dive in.
Step 1: Make a list of old blog posts to re-love
Remember the principle here is to find blog posts that are performing well, but need an upgrade. Start with your Google Analytics list of top 50 blog posts. Open up Analytics, change the date range to the last 6 months. Next, go to Behaviour > Overview. Once you see the chart (bottom right-hand corner), click “see full report” to get the expanded version and click the drop-down “show rows” to “50.”
Now you have the top 50 pages, by traffic, on your site. This is chart if full of bread crumbs: you are looking at how your readers have voted on your blog—essentially they are telling you what they want more of.
A good place to start your republishing old blog posts exercise is with the most popular blog posts that are more than one year old. To get that list, print the chart and write the published date beside the top 20 blog posts.
The oldest posts in the top 20 are the ones you’ll be re-loving.
Step 2: Create a publishing schedule
If you find yourself trying to remember what blog topics you’ve already published and keeping track of future topics, you are going to love this solution:
A great (free) plug-in we’ve started using is called Editorial Calendar. Once installed, Editorial Calendar will self-populate with all your published blog posts. Cool right?
A neat trick is to click “Show unscheduled drafts” to see a list of all your draft posts and then click and drag them to the date you want. You can “hold” a publishing date by starting a draft blog post with the date you want (watch this video to learn how).
A simple plan is to mix one new post with one re-loved post per month. Or double it up if you publish weekly.
Step 3: Give the post a quick make-over
Now for the fun part!
The goal here is to update facts, clean up your writing, maybe refresh images and then be DONE. Google is looking for a “substantial update” for it to do the magical reindexing we want to move up to first page. But you don’t need to make this another writing project!
Here’s a quick shopping list of what to look for:
- Break up those looooong paragraphs and keep your readers moving down the page.
- Insert “cliffhangers”, like: “But, before I get to that…”, “And there’s one more thing…”, or “Has this ever happened to you…?”
- Include keywords into your post. Don’t overdo it, but if your post is about “change management” make sure it’s in some of your subheading (h1, h2 tags.)
- Insert a Click To Tweet to make it easy for readers to share.
- Update your Featured Image.
- Insert links to “anchor posts” – these are posts on your site you want readers to go to, or to your products and services pages. While you’re at it, remove unnecessary links that take readers off your site.
- Update your CTA (Call To Action) – do you want social shares, the reader to take action, or just comments? Make it clear what action you want them to take. As a friend once said, “If you don’t A-S-K you won’t G-E-T.”
Your final touch before changing to the new publish date and hitting publish is to add a short announcement at the top of the post to let readers know this is information is current, like:
“This post was originally published in August 2017 and has been completely updated.”
or: “This post was originally published in 2017 and was completely updated Jan. 2019 for accuracy and your reading pleasure.”
Step 4: Make some noise
Once you’ve launched your newly republished post it’s time to make some noise. Send some posts to your social channels (of course if you are using BlogWorks, we’re all over that), fire off an email, maybe shoot a quick video.
Remember, you’re newly republished post is going to be new to your audience. So, don’t be shy about announcing it’s arrival.
Note: if your permalink setting includes the date your blog was published (like: www.myblog.com/blog/2012/12/leadership) republishing old blog posts will change the date in the URL and you will lose any existing SEO links. This article explains how to avoid that.
Well done! You’ve been strategic and re-loved your hard work from the past. You’ve also saved time AND published exactly what your readers told you they want more of.
Plus, now you have more time to watch Marie Kondo spark joy.