One of the BIGGEST MISTAKES bloggers make is focusing on new content and ignoring their old content. "New," is a relative term. People want things that are "new" to them. I shouldn't assume that a post I wrote 5 years ago is old news because it was popular 5 years ago. Yes, many people already read the piece but MOST people haven't.
This process is all about making your old content new again.
Two types of people will be reading this.
EntreResource and McCallister Media employees. I created this post for training them on our internal process.
Other long time bloggers. This concept is most valuable to those of you with over a year of content to update. I figured I'd make this available to you as well. It does me no harm to share this process. Hell. it's so complex most of you won't even follow it 🙂 Those who do will reap serious rewards!
Why Update Old Content?
There is a reason idols of mine like Neil Patel pay people FULL TIME HOURS to update old posts.
If I can optimize my old content to get new traffic, I can make new money. That is the bottom line.
Also, I have tons of new advantages.
- I can see what keywords they rank for. This means I can find ones that can drive new traffic with small effort (more on that later).
- I have more posts to link to inside. Adding internal links to old posts is great SEO.
- I'm better than I was when I wrote the post! Seriously! I know what sells and what doesn't. My writing is better. My style is more defined.
- Most of my competitors AREN'T updating their old content. This isn't a sexy process.
A quick story...
One of the best coworkers I ever had was BY FAR the least intelligent. I don't say that to be mean, he'd agree with me if you asked him. He just objectively dumb by almost every traditional measurement. He was the prize of the warehouse though because of one thing he did that others didn't: He used checklists and he paid attention to detail.
He knew his limitations. He wasn't going to be put in charge of anything that involved outside the box thinking or creativity but he was a machine when it came to repeating a process once he had created a checklist.
The size of the task didn't matter. The number of steps didn't matter. He made it easy on himself with a checklist and the simple rule of "I do what it says to do, in the order it says to do it."
I've created an internal checklist for updating my past blog posts.
About the Workbook
The process is all outlined in the workbook below.
If you want to repurpose it for your own use, you're more than welcome to do so. Simply click "File" and "Make a Copy," to create an editable version.
All you'll need to do after that is replace a few things on the "All URLs" sheet. The blog post titles (Column D ), URLs (Column F) and the Lead Magnets (Column T).
I use a free WordPress plugin called Export All URLs for getting the Titles and URLs. The lead magnets will need to be entered manually (more on that in one second).
There are 3 worksheets inside the workbook.
Sheet #1 How to Use This Workbook: An abridged version to using the workbook. This post goes into much greater detail.
Sheet #2 All URLs: This is the working sheet where the process itself is held for each post. Update your post titles and urls as necessary.
Sheet #3 DATA: This is a page where I hold lead magnets for drop down fields I created. You can do 3 things.
- Delete the validation on 'All URLs'!T3:T189 and have the magnet entered manually.
- Update DATA!D2:D17 with your own lead magnets.
- Delete and ignore column 'All URLs'!T1:T330 although I don't recommend that. Ensuring each post has a great, relevant lead magnet is important.
Do whatever is best for you. This sheet is a guideline, optimize it as you see fit.
Using the All URLs Worksheet
The workbook flow is left to right.
Column A: Left blank intentionally for space and style.
Column B, Reviewed: If you are outsourcing this process (like I am) this is the box you tick once you have reviewed and approved the updated post. This is the final step in the process. If you choose to not be involved at all, you can remove this column.
Column C, Priority: Ticking this box will highlight the entire row. These are the pieces that should be updated first. I highly recommend that you prioritize your posts by "low hanging fruit," opportunities. This is especially helpful if you have a large number of blog posts.
This concept deserves more than a casual mention in this article, so instead, I will link to some great resources about this process.
My own process for finding these opportunities is a combination of using Ahrefs, Google Search Console and common sense. I give priority to articles that are most profitable and have the most potential for RELEVANT traffic. In that order.
Kill, Consolidate or Keep
Not every article deserves to be optimized. This process might turn up pieces that should be deleted (with proper redirects) or consolidated with other posts. I call this, "Kill, Consolidate or Keep." As Peter Drucker said, "There is nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency something that should not be done at all." Don't optimize something that doesn't serve the brand anyway!
Column D, Title: This is the original blog title.
Column E, Test Title: Close your eyes on this one if you were expecting to get out of this process without spending any money! The test title is an A/B test we create to try and boost our CTR (click through rate) in Google. The tool I use for this is called A/B Rankings and it costs $29/month. Although there are other headline testing softwares out there, most do not actually A/B test inside of search engines. Creating tests for your blog posts might end up being the biggest ROI for you in this entire process.
You owe it to yourself to try out A/B Rankings (they have a free 30 day trial).
If you're reading this and you work for me, you should have been given access in LastPass 🙂
Creating the test is beyond easy. Simply log-in to the website, click "create a test," and craft a new headline and meta description.
It will take over a week until you start seeing results (it needs to be indexed, get impressions etc.)
Tip on Headlines
Before you publish your test, review the articles that are ranking above you. Ask yourself, "is my headline more captitvating than theirs?" If the answer is no, keep writing. Check out Coschedule's headline analyzer tool if you need help coming up with great headlines.
Column F, URL: Nothing fancy here. I do recommend that you avoid updating the URLs unless it is absolutely necessary.
Column G, Hook: This is one of the few copywriting aspects of this workbook. Many of my older posts had bland hooks and didn't engage the reader or encourage them to complete the article.
This is another topic that deserves is own article, so I'll direct you to some of the great pieces on writing hooks by other authors.
Column H, Featured Image: You may or may not want to update your blog post featured image. My featured images have been a serious time suck for me over the years and I have been left with C-grade, inconsistent images.
I've decided to simplify my featured images and go to basic, text free images. I then overlay the blog post title within my theme. This is much more efficient than crafting each one manually and consistency is more important to me and have a few awesome thumbnails and a bunch of random duds.
Thumbnails aren't nearly as important on your blog as they are on places like YouTube and Pinterest where text is much more important.
Instead, I'm focusing on size (1200px by 628px) and aesthetics. The 1200px by 628px size fits perfectly inside of social and I don't need to worry about cropping to fit words in the frame since the picture doesn't have any!
Column I + J, Search Description and Excerpt: Many of my posts didn't have quality descriptions or excerpts. We now craft a new search description and copy and paste it as the excerpt. This comes in handy if I choose to use the except in a post list down the road and only takes a couple of seconds to complete.
Your WordPress editor may look different, but here is what mine looks like when I do this step.
Column K, Tags and Categories: Every post should be properly tagged and categorized. This step is beneficial for a. number of reasons. First, you can create custom "you might also like," lists based on tags and categories. You can also create special logic for displaying pop ups or ads based on the tag or categoy. More is better when it comes to tags and categories!
Adding tags and categories is easy inside of the WP Editor.
Column L, Affiliate Links: If you monetize your site with affiliate links, there are a number of things you need to optimize/verify.
I have instructed my team to not only test all links, but to also replace them with Clickmagick links. Clickmagick links solve a big problem: they allow me to change the URL of ALL the links at the same time.
For example, let's say that one of my top programs switches platforms and all of my old links no longer work (this happens a lot). With clickmagick, I can go and update every link to the new URL at the same time.
- Basic Affiliate Link: https://demio.com?fp_ref=entreresource
- Clickmagick Link (redirects to same URL): http://tools.entreresource.com/demio
If that basic link changes, I can simply update the cloak link to the new URL! This will easily save hours and 1,000s of dollars. The Clickmagick link is redirectable while the basic link is not. It also allows me to track the cliks and where they came from.
Click here to read my full Clickmagick review if you're interested in this. Whether you use this or not, be sure to inspect for dead links and add as many relevant affiliate links as possible to maximize sales.
Column M, Links: Inbound and outbound links need to be inspected and optimized. Older posts haven;t had a chance to link to newer content (internal linking is a big ranking factor).
I use a tool called LinkWhisper to quickly add internal links between my posts.
You should inspect for broken links as well and ensure that you aren't ranking to any competitors for your same keywords.
Column N, Formatting/Spelling/Grammar/Tone, :
I have always done a good job of this so it isn't quite as important for me as it may be for other bloggers. Readability is the key to this. A post can be written with great spelling and grammar but still be hard to read or boring to read.
Column O, Calls to Action : Do we encourage the reader to take action? This includes things like reminding them to leave a comment.
Column P, Accuracy : Is anything factually incorrect? Has your opinion changed? Is what you shared originally still relevant?
Column Q, Alt Text : Ensure that all images shared in the post have relevant alt-text. This is a good chance to add keywords (without stuffing).
Column R+S, Lead Magnet Pop Up and Lead Magnet In-line: Every post should have a quality lead gen method. Test that the pop up and inline opt-in are working by opening an incognito browser
Column T, Lead Magnet: Select which lead magnet is being shown for the post. This will come in handy later on as you optimize.
Column U, Page Speed: Run the URL through a speed testing tool like GT Metrix and ensure that it isn't slow. A slow page isn't going to rank well.
A slow page can be fixed and it is worth the work. Here are some articles on the topic of slow page load times.
Column V, Other: I left this blank in case I wanted to add stuff later 🙂
Column W, Update Publish Date: In the Wrodpress editor, change the published on date to the current date. This is optional but highly recommended.
Column X, Date Update Complete: This may or may not match the new publish date in column W.
Column Y + Z, Employee Notes and Owner's Notes: Add anything relevant here.
Things Not Covered
I did not cover backlink building in this process. It can be done seperately and I believe that the best link builders usually aren't the best content creators.
Everyime I update a piece of content, I share it with my mailing list and social media groups. I didn't cover that in there
Like backlink building, I felt that this merited its own job. If I were working alone, I would focus on repurposing each piece of updated content for different platforms. I'd recommend hiring someone to do this. Look at a service like RepurposeHouse if you need help here.
Tips for The Process
Remember That This Is an Ongoing Task
Updating your blog content isn't a one time thing. It should be a regular part of your content marketing strategy.
Invest in the Tools
I mentioned several tools in this post. If you have enough content that you read this far, you have enough opportunity to EASILY make your money back if you use the tools I mentioned properly.