When I was in elementary school I loved “Choose Your Own Adventure” books. If you were young in the 80s you probably remember that book series. I always took extra time to make sure I read every ending, so that in my mind I could choose the best outcome and leave that as the final “version” of the book. When it comes to editing old blog posts – the first step in any SEO journey – I definitely feel like I’m in a “Choose Your Own Adventure” book, blogging edition.
Editing old blog posts often feels that there are several outcomes and no right answer. I know a lot of bloggers get overwhelmed by SEO and editing old blog posts, so I’ve decided to go over my process (the exact steps) so that you can fully understand what I’ve been doing over the last several years to improve my SEO.
Let’s start with a chart:
This chart shows you the increase in my search engine traffic, year over year since 2011. That is the primary reason I edit old blog posts. IT WORKS. It increases my organic search engine traffic and makes my blog better. My focus is always SEO when I edit, though I do take the time to improve the entire blog post while I’m in it. As you can see from the chart above, I’ve seen results from my efforts.
Reviewing blog posts is something I do on a regular basis, and I always work in a few posts a week even if I’m really busy (that’s how important it is to me!). If you’ve never reviewed your old blog posts or it’s been awhile, you’re probably in need of another audit. I’m happy to share my process.
Note that it’s not necessarily a pleasant experience to look back at old blog posts. Photography can be embarrassing (2008 called and wants their photos back) and some of my writing was corny (I’m such a comedian). I also felt when I first started editing old blog posts that time was going to be a major hurdle. And I have to admit, the first few blog posts went slowly . . . . but I sped up from there. Now it’s like second nature.
I started with the top 20% of posts on my blog (page views, using Google Analytics) and have been working down the list from there. Let’s go over my steps.
My 12 Steps For Editing Old Blog Posts
- 1I start by opening the blog post on my computer and skimming the text. Decide if I want to keep the post (Is it too off topic? Do I just not like the post anymore? Is it a very old sponsored post that is no longer relevant?). Consider if I can rework the post or if it's even worth improving. I either delete and redirect OR move onto step 2.
- 2Decide if any images need to be re-photographed or added. If so, I plan on making the craft or recipe again. Depending on your blog topic, you might want to incorporate stock photography.
- 3If the current photographs are good, resize any images that are too large (especially those taken and added to my blog before I knew about image compression).
- 4Determine the keyword for the post and do keyword research, even if I've done it before. Cross-check the post in Google Search Console (Webmaster Tools) and find out what keywords the post has been ranking for. Depending on the results, I may keep the current keyword or change completely.
- 5Change the title of the blog post and change the URL, if necessary. My redirections are handled through Yoast Premium, so when I republish the post, it automatically creates a redirect behind the scenes if I've made a change.
- 6Fill out the Yoast SEO plugin module if it's not already filled out - this includes adding the keyword and a meta description.
- 7Read the blog post thoroughly and check for grammatical errors. Add the keyword from step 4 to my post as I'm reading (I find on old posts I typically haven't added the keyword enough times to get a green light with Yoast). I also make the keywords a Heading 2 within the post.
- 8Add the meta description to the alt description of all of the photos. If I am retaking the photos, I will hold off on this until I have the new ones.
- 9Ensure the proper category is selected and that the correct tags are attached to the post.
- 10Add affiliate links to my post if appropriate, and add the rel="nofollow" in the Text tab of my WordPress composer to ensure that those particular links aren't followed by Google.
- 11Read the blog post again and add internal links to other posts on my blog where they fit organically.
- 12Fill out the Social Warfare module for my post. Create Pinterest and Facebook images if necessary and then add them to Social Warfare.
Editing old blog posts is a somewhat time-consuming process, but the results are well worth it. Don't get overwhelmed! Incorporate regular edits into your weekly schedule. It might take a year or more, but getting something done each week is better than being overwhelmed by the entire project and doing nothing. Let "bite-sized chunks" be your mantra!
Now that you know my steps for editing old blog posts, I'd love to know your process. Let me know in the comments!