Recently I was going through some of the older posts on this blog, just to get a feel of how things were in the past. Though DollarShower is not a very old blog, I could still feel a lot of difference in my approach – now and then. This was visible in the way of writing, formatting or even involvement with the readers and it prompted me to edit a few posts, if not for major changes to the content itself.
Reasons for editing an old post
Though some people never edit their old content (and some don’t even display timestamps, for that matter), I found some valid reasons to do so. According to me, the following are some of the motivations behind modifying an old post:
- Wrong information was provided and you just realized it (or some readers alerted you)
- Totally obsolete information or topic
- Links that are not working anymore
- Poor readability in the context of new themes or changed blog platform needs
- Content was not promoted well when it was written and now you feel that it needs visibility (Also read this related post on seo advantage via older posts)
- Any copyright or legal issues that need to be take care of
- Advertisers asked to remove paid reviews on their services
- To respect the Terms of Service (TOS) of online partners
How did I go about doing changes?
Well, editing a post is not difficult at all…but I had to do some or all of the following to change my older posts to suite my requirements.
Firstly, before editing the content or its properties, I wanted to take the post offline. So I noted the timestamp on the post, marked it as unpublished and saved once. Now the post is not visible to the outside world. You have the option of keeping it as private alone – rather than making it unpublished – but this is not good for the reasons I will explain later.
Now, one of the main aesthetic issues that I found in my older posts was those short post summaries (ie. the post content portion before the ‘more’ tag). I had the habit of keeping a small paragraph as the summary which was later (as of now) changed to two paragraphs. And the problem was that when I browse archives, the blog looked so stupid with a lot of white spaces around. So placing the ‘more’ tag at the right place was the first thing to do.
The other formatting issues included, missing H2, H3 tags (I blindly used strong tag for everything then), blockquotes, and bulleted lists. Once they were incorporated, it started looking even better. Also, many missing ‘alt’ properties for the images were added so that my code became cleaner and more compliant.
Another big issue I had was with respect to the missing nofollow tags. Initially, I was blindly linking all websites and blogs without caring to put nofollow which resulted in huge loss in my single posts’ PR. So I put these missing tags wherever I was not intentionally giving link love.
I also found that some of the good posts that I had written were not at all visible to the search engines. So I added more relevant tags to these posts – by the way, I had stocked up a few hundred tags over the months as compared to ten or fifteen I had in the beginning. Also, some of the posts logically belonged to more than one category and I chose those categories as well. In addition, since I now have the All-in-one-SEO plugin, additional keywords needed to be added as well. The above steps made sure that my old post is now more search engine friendly.
One quick read through the post would also reveal some obsolete content. The idea should not be to change the whole thing but it may make sense to add a ‘Updates:’ section at the end of the post with the mention of modifications done and/or indicate whatever is not applicable any more!
Any copyright infringement related statements or missing credits may be added at this point. And some new features of the blogging platform (e.g. excerpts) may be included as well.
Finally, a preview can be done and make the post into published status. The whole thing can be done without un-publishing and then publishing as well. However, this would not help alerting the search engines and blog aggregators to re-index this post. Once the post is published it is also logical to reply to any comments on this post that you might have forgotten to respond to.
DON’Ts while editing old posts
- Do not change the original timestamp
- Do not change the original author name, even if you purchased an established blog from somebody else. Let the credit stay where it belongs!
- Do not create another post with much the same content; you might get punished by the search engines
- Do not forward-link to posts newer to the one being edited
- Do not edit the permalinks as much as possible just in case you have lot of back links to this post
- Do not remove any link love voluntarily provided earlier
While it is virtually impossible to edit and groom all your older posts, it may be a good idea to change a few popular ones – especially those posts that get a lot of search hits.
Question to you: Do you ever edit and/or re-publish your old posts for whatsoever reasons?