Quite often, your readers’ first introduction to you is through one of your older posts — you know, the ones in mothballs at the back of your archive.
When readers find themselves in your back pages, they should see you at your very best, just as they would if they landed on your newest post.
It’s easy for your archive to get a little stale and dated over time, as things change and technologies advance. But it’s not hard to get it tidied up and keep it fresh. Let’s get at it!
Delete Pointless Comments
Isn’t it wonderful when you read a great blog post, then see that it has nothing but thoughtful, useful comments? That’s no accident; the author is pruning out the pointless comments with no mercy.
Thinking about that. I bet you already have a few ideas in mind about which comments to delete during your sweep through your site. Yes, it’s that rude comment that added nothing to the discussion. And yeah, delete that self-promoting-but-not-quite-spam comment from the e-commerce site that’s kinda in your niché.
If you don’t like it, if it doesn’t promote or add palpable value to the subject at hand, cut it and don’t feel sorry about it.
It’s YOUR blog, you’re in charge of the discussion. The manner in which you manage that discussion tells your readers a great deal about you.
Remove or Fix Dead Links
Dead links are extremely frustrating for readers and search engines, alike.
So, clean them up when you’re making the sweep through your site. This will make navigation from your back pages to your front pages smooth and seamless.
There are many online tools for finding broken links in your blog, so I’m just going to recommend one that works for blogs on any platform. If you have fewer than 3,000 pages in your blog, which is probably the vast majority of us, you can use brokenlinkcheck.com to find dead links for free (there’s a premium version, too, if you have a larger site).
When you run your first broken link scan, your results may be startling. But don’t panic, even if you have a lot of dead links. It’s rare that a broken link is an urgent emergency. And, you’ll probably have a few “false positives”.
Give priority to fixing broken links that appear site-wide first. For example, if you discover that a link in your sidebar blogroll is dead, correct that first, then move on to dead links in your posts & static pages. Finally, move on to removing comments with dead links when you have time.
Refresh Your Most Popular Posts
You probably already know which posts in your archive are the most popular, but if you don’t, identify them in Google Analytics (Behavior > Site Content > All Pages) or in your blogging platform’s built-in stats.
Go back through those top rated posts with an objective eye, and see if you can add a little polish to keep them relevant for the long-haul.
Consider how you would write these posts if you were writing them today.
- Has your writing style changed?
- Is all the data and associated screenshots or images still current?
- Do you use different graphics now, or perhaps a little bit of CSS flair?
- Think about applying your newest styling to your vintage posts to help bring them into the present.
If you decide to give your older, popular posts a makeover, don’t be shy about reintroducing them to your followers! Link to them in your new posts, make sure they’re featured in your Popular or Trending posts widgets or Featured area slider, and re-share them through social media. Followers who’ve seen it before won’t hold it against you, and it gives your new followers a good reason to dig into your archives and see more of what makes you great.
Obsolete Posts, to Trash or Not to Trash
Sometimes, a post just isn’t relevant anymore. Maybe it’s a sponsored post from a defunct or bankrupt company, or a giveaway that closed two years ago. Or, maybe it just doesn’t fit the theme of your blog anymore — which is common if you’ve been blogging for years and the focus of your blog has shifted over time.
An obsolete post does your blog and its readers no good. So, what should you do with it? Let’s look at all the angles and figure it out!
First, go through your archives and identify irrelevant posts. There’s no exact science for rooting them out — you’ll know them when you see them. After you’ve compiled a list of pointless posts, take a look a their stats, either in Google Analytics or in your blog’s built-in stats.
Popular but Irrelevant Posts
If an obsolete posts is still getting a lot of views, consider rewriting it and refreshing it to bring it up to date, or link your readers to more up-to-date content at the very top of the post.
Think about things that might be added to the post to make it relevant again and tie it into the rest of your content.
Unpopular and Irrelevant Posts
Posts that are unpopular with readers and unloved by you are good candidates for deletion.
If you use Blogger or self-hosted WordPress, you can redirect the URL of a deleted post to another, more relevant post or page in your blog (see the Resources at the end of this post for more info).
I know the idea of deleting a post can strike fear in the hearts of bloggers. But, don’t be afraid to delete something that is doing no one any good.
The longer you’ve been blogging, the more this becomes inevitable if you want your blog to stay fresh and current and appealing to your readers. So, for some, this may be considered a blogging “right of passage”.
The few visits your worst posts get may bump up your pageviews a little, but they’re not going to help you grow. And growth is what we are all looking for as static blogs usually wither away and die. Focus your attention on creating new, great posts, and you’ll quickly recover from any traffic loss that may come from trimming away a post that’s truly dead.
- If you use self-hosted WordPress, you can use the Broken Link Checker plugin to find and repair broken links.
- Blogger users can use the new custom redirects feature to redirect links from deleted posts to another post or page.
- Self-hosted WordPress users can use the Redirection plugin for URL redirects. It’s also handy for identifying dead links, so it’s a two-fer!
Sum It Up
Don’t let your old blog posts wither in obscurity. You put a lot of work into that “old” content and you can make it keep working for you. Use these tips to freshen up your blog Archives and keep the traffic flowing.