If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again….
Have you ever written a post that you thought would hit the spot with your readers, generate lots of interest and/or stimulate a great conversation and then find it fell flat on it’s face?
I have – in fact it happens all the time for a variety of reasons:
- Sometimes your posts fall over because other stories break in the blogosphere and hog all the attention
- Perhaps you just had some bad luck and the right influential blogger didn’t happen to see your post (and spread the word)
- At other times its because you posted on the wrong day of the week
- Or perhaps you wrote the post in the early days of your blog before you really had any readers to read it
- Alternatively it can be simply that your post wasn’t good enough
Many of these unsuccessful posts slide off the front page of a blog never to be seen or thought about again (by your readers or by you) – however, perhaps in time, they deserve a second chance. After all, you’ve put work into researching and writing them and with a second chance in the spotlight they could actually reach their potential and become more fruitful and rewarding to you as a blogger.
Over the last few weeks I’ve experimented on a number of occasions with giving old posts that I felt hadn’t lived up to their potential a second chance. I’ve done this in a few different ways with varying degrees of success but wanted to share the method that was most successful for me (as well as a few others at the end of this post).
The most successful of my experiments with giving old posts a second chance have been reposting them on the front page of a blog with updates.
I did this a few days back with a post on DPS on Slow Sync Flash. The previous version of the post had been posted back in January when my readership was considerably smaller than it currently is (ie most of my current readers wouldn’t have seen it before) and while it had been moderately successful in terms of generating comments I was never completely satisfied with the post (in terms of what I’d written and/or the traffic it got).
So I updated the post with a few tweaks that made it more useful, attractive and relevant and reposted it at the top of my blog (simply by changing the posting date in WordPress). I also included a note that it was an updated post at the end of the post.
IMPORTANT NOTE – I am able to do this at DPS because I have a permalink structure that does not include dates (ie it is just the BlogName/PostName not BlogName/Date/PostName as it is here at ProBlogger. if you have dates in your permalink structure you shouldn’t use this method as you’ll end up with a new URL for the post which can mean you lose any SEO ranking your previous version of the post had.
The results of this updated repost were significant with a front page appearance on Digg, large StumbleUpon traffic, being featured on the front page of Delicious and link ups from many blogs including a few authoritative ones.
The advantage of this method is that the post not only gets a second chance in the spotlight – but because it’s an established post with some Search Engine Ranking – the combination of the content being updated and new comments being added (Search Engines like fresh content), the appearance on your front page and the extra links that the post might generate means that the post will build it’s SEO authority.
The danger of this approach is that if you do it too often with posts that most of your readers will have seen before you run the risk of them becoming disillusioned with you. I don’t have a problem with updating old posts to make them more relevant and useful – but some of your readers might get a bit sick of reading the same old stuff if you do it too often.
This approach works best on evergreen or timeless posts – particularly ‘how to’ or ‘tips’ posts.
Other ways of updating content and giving it a second chance
The reposted update is something that has worked very well for me on a number of occasions. However there are other ways to give an older post a second chance including:
- Complete Rewrite as a new post – in this approach you simply take the concepts from your previous post and rewrite it from scratch as a new post on the blog. You might make the same posts, update some of your thoughts, add new points etc but end up with two posts on the same topic. I’ve used this approach with some success also. I would generally link back to the previous version so readers can see the progression of my ideas.
- Update Posts and Link to them – another approach is to update an older post and then write a new post announcing the update with a link to it. This doesn’t tend to work quite as well for some reason – perhaps because the old post still has your old date on it and can be seen as ‘dated’ by many (it’s amazing how people write off old material as being not current or old for just being written a few months back).
- Archive Compilations – posts that look back at a year gone by and that link to old posts can also be another way of driving people back into your archives for a second look. I tend to do this on special occasions (blog anniversaries, the end of the year etc). It is a gentle way of reminding new readers that there is more to your blog than what they might have seen.
- Prominent Links to Key Posts – linking to old key posts in side bars, headers, posts or even as ‘related posts’ under your posts can be ways of giving old posts a second breath of life. This is by no means as radical as reposting an old post – but over time this can drive significant traffic back to an older underperforming post.
- Promoting Old Posts to Other Sites – this is something I’ve had some success with also – but quite accidentally. A month back I noticed a spike in the traffic coming to DPS from Digg. I immediately thought that one of my most recent posts was the one bringing in the traffic – however when I checked out where the traffic was heading I realized it was to a post that was 9 months old. One of my readers had stumbled across it and had thought it digg worthy. Others had jumped on board and as a stroke of luck and with no work on my part I had a hit on my hands as it went to the front page. It struck me at this point that perhaps my archives held other old posts that had not been promoted to other larger sites. As a result I submitted a couple of older posts to a couple of large blogs and to my amazement they were picked up and linked to. I should note that one of the main reasons that I suspect this works on DPS is that I don’t time stamp my posts. I’ve written more on this practice previously (it’s something that will again suit evergreen timeless content more than blogs that are newsy and whose posts need the context of a date to be useful to readers).
So do you update posts? If so how do you do it and have you had any success with doing so?
This post itself is an update from the original article published May 11, 2007 and updated May 5, 2022.