“Nothing is permanent except change,” as the old saying goes. However, if we were to update this quote for the 21st century, we might add, “and most web content.” We make jokes about it — Warner Bros still has the original Space Jam movie site from 1996 active! — but ultimately, they’re not that funny. If our world is in constant flux, why is web content so static?
It doesn’t have to be this way. The web is a highly fluid medium; we have the ability to change things and to rewrite and update our past. Sure, you could just delete old posts entirely, but we think the best option is to breathe new life into them and update.
Why You Should Update
“Why bother?” you might ask. If you’ve consistently got new content on your site, the idea of looking backward and going through old posts may seem tedious and unnecessary, and that’s understandable. However, that old content is still out there — it’s discoverable through web searches, and users who stumble upon it and don’t look at the date (something we’re all guilty of now and then) may not realize that they’re reading something that no longer holds true.
So, it’s a good idea to comb through your old posts now and again. Ask yourself these questions as you take a look:
Is new information available? Sometimes, new studies debunk old findings, speculation becomes science, and details are confirmed. If any of this holds true, you owe your readers an update with this new information.
Have my thoughts on the subject changed? New information can sometimes lead to shifting opinions, and occasionally people have a complete change of heart. If looking back at your old opinion pieces makes you cringe because you no longer think that way, it’s time for an update.
Are there broken links? Websites come and websites go, and the link you provided three years ago may lead your visitor right to a giant 404. If linked sites no longer exist, it’s wise to remove those links.
Is the design outdated? Updating the design won’t change the actual content of your blog posts, but it will liven up the look of them.
How to Update
There are a few things you can do if you decide to update your old posts.
You can create a new post. This is an entirely new entry, dated today, that includes the original content plus any new information you want to add to it. If you decide to go this route, be sure to include an introduction explaining that it’s a repost and why you’re doing it.
You can update the original post. Some bloggers will put the new content in bold or another color, while others will simply add the update at the end. If you update an old post, though, it probably won’t show up as new content, so you’ll want to link to it on your social media pages so that your clients see it. (Unless you want to keep the update quiet.)
You can create a brand new post that links to the old one. If you have a lot more to say on the subject, this may be the best way to go, as new readers can follow the link while longtime readers can just go through your new content.
If the old post is really bad, you can simply delete it. Doing this won’t always clear out cached pages, so technically, the old post could still possibly be accessed, but it won’t be on your website anymore. This is a last resort, but it will eliminate anything that’s way off base or embarrassing.
Keep it Fresh!
Keep your blog current, stay relevant, and avoid becoming a web relic joke a la Space Jam by regularly updating any old, outdated posts. You keep changing, and your web content should too.