improve old content

Why Should You Improve Your Old Blog Content?

That’s a pretty reasonable question, since you could be spending that time creating brand new content instead. Well, there are some pretty good reasons to improve your old blog content, frankly, and we’re going to touch on them real quick before we jump into the how of it all.

The main theme is really simple: You should find what you’re already doing best, and do it better. If you’ve got a fair bank of content up on your blog, it’s a safe bet that some of it performing better than the rest, and you want to make sure it’s performing as it’s best able to.

One of the central tenants of InboundWriter, a service I recently wrote an article about for The Marketing Scopeis that 80% of your search traffic comes from 20% of your posts. I talked with their CEO, Skip Besthoff, who was, first, a nice guy, and, second, fairly convincing when he explained how InboundWriter would filter out that 80%. Today, we’re going to talk about that 20%.

Many articles fall flat. Some, though, manage to bring in continual traffic. These articles are, it follows, there source of the largest portion of new eyes on your site–and you only get that one chance to make a first impression.

How to Figure Out Which Posts to Revise

I’m not saying you should stop writing new content. I’d never say that. I’m also not saying you should devote your time to improving all of your old content. However, if you’ve been blogging for six months or so, now might be the right time for you to pop on over to Google Analytics and find your best two or three performers. Go to the Behavior tab, and select Overview. 

You should see something like this:

google analtyics cities of the mind page view report
A Google Analytics pageview report.

Now, some of these are way up top because they’re new–and good– but mostly because they’re new. Both Cody and Andrew wrote great guest posts describing, respectively, writing sabbaticals and why horror writers aren’t necessarily plotting your gruesome death–but obviously I can’t do much to change them. Also, most of the people arriving to view their posts are via referral sources such as Facebook and G+.

By the way, Cody and Andrew are writers and you should stop by their own sites.

What we’re looking for here is search traffic. Fortunately, that’s easy to filter for. Go up to Segment and select either “Organic” or “Search Traffic” so you can get rid of these pesky interlopers. Once that’s done, I have three posts which really stand out. All three of them average in the top three search results:

Useful Writing Tips as Explicated by an Insane Person is a tongue-in-cheek piece of writing advice from the perspective of a writer who’s just sort of losing it a little bit. It’s written in character, but I can’t lie, it was a pretty easy character to get into.

A Guide to Writing Mentally Ill Characters was written when I realized lots of people arriving at that piece above were (based on their search terms) looking for serious advice on the subject. I felt a bit guilty, so I created an actual short guide with helpful links and a serious take on the subject, and placed a link to it at the start of “Explicated”. In a bit of a karmic twist, it did very well in searches, too.

Challenges of Writing About Beauty was another serious writing article, part examination of the subject, part anecdote. It doesn’t score quite as highly as the previous two, but it gets fairly steady organic traffic, and has a very high click-through rate and low bounce rate–that is to say, a lot of people who arrive on the search page and see it, click on it and then stick around to read it.

So these three articles are going to be getting a revision this next week or two. I’m going to walk you through the process for each one in their own post.

How to Go About Revising an Article

The most important first step is to figure out what is bringing people in to begin with. And, whatever you do, don’t get rid of it!

The next bit is also pretty straightforward: Look for errors, clean up mistakes, improve the organization, and expound on what is already covered in areas where you believe it will strengthen the piece. People are already finding the page, so make sure they’re impressed by what they see. Polish, polish, polish.

red ink lifeblood good wriiting

If you’re low on visual media, or your visual media is, you know, awful, look at creating something better. I will be creating new artwork, Explicated and Beauty, but Guide needs something else entirely; an expert perspective from someone who knows a bit more than me.

Beauty was just an idle thought I put to paper before getting to work for that particular day. It had no artwork, not even a featured image to show up when people shared it. Now, I’ve already fixed that, to some degree, but I think it needs some editing, and some visual additions to really amplify the message.

Explicated has an entirely different problem. I’m actually rather proud of it, because it was written in one draft, with no plan for what I was going to write. Each piece of advice was woven on the spot, with no pre-planning whatsoever. It’s one of my favorite stream-of-consciousness projects ever.

It’s also an import from the old site, and is fully illustrated. However, it was illustrated by Connor.2013, not Connor.2015. For those of you who are new to following my internet ramblings, you’re probably used to Connor.2015, who draws things like this:

bluebird drawing twitter

However, Connor.2013 created images a bit more like so:

not my best work.

While I’m still no Michelangelo, you might notice there’s been a slight change in the overall output quality.

The Goal

The goal here is to improve conversions from high-ranking content and improve the overall user experience. I’ll try to think of a good way to keep a copy of the old pages so that you can really appreciate the changes, but, in any case, stick around for a bit of fun. I’ll leave it to you to decide whether I succeed or fail!

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