March 29, 2022
What should I do with old blog stories? It’s a question clients often ask when they have a lot of content—blog articles, testimonials, press releases, etc.—filling their website. They’re looking for specific directives, and there is no cut-and-dry algorithm to say what gets updated, archived, or deleted.
Evergreen content continually drives traffic. For clients with active blog strategies, stories can drive more than 40% of total web traffic. And for many of our blog clients, stories we helped produce 4-5 years ago continue to be the top-performing content on their entire websites. Those stories are still relevant, are indexed by major search engines, and generally are not time sensitive.
Regular content publishing is important for SEO and thought leadership. But content can become out-of-date quickly as laws, societal perspectives, and technology change continually.
The decision to archive is not as simple as following a timeline. As you make decisions about which stories stay and which go, first consider your audience’s needs. Then follow these general guidelines for updating and archiving older blog content.
If you have a blog detailing a program, service, or event that no longer exists or has changed substantially, that content no longer serves the reader. The same is true for any blog post that doesn’t agree with your organization’s mission and values or contains expired content.
Can you update these stories with the next big thing? Or update them with the results of what transpired? If neither option makes sense, consider archiving the page.
It’s like watching TV sitcoms from the 1990s—topics that were acceptable then often don’t age well. For example, it is intolerable today to publish content that evokes racial, sexual, or otherwise inappropriate undertones or direct statements.
It’s vitally important to stay true to the quality and integrity of your organization. Often, content built around these ideas can’t be gently tweaked and would require extensive overhauling. Archiving is generally the most appropriate step. Don’t be afraid to remove content that isn’t appropriate from your site—do be prepared with a strong, unified response about why you’ve removed it. You don’t want to appear as if you are hiding something. Rather, by eliminating insidious content, you are affirming what your brand stands for and clarifying your stance with the community.
No one wants their website trolled for information about a person who is being investigated for an abhorrent crime. If you can’t rewrite it or re-byline it, archive it.
We recommend this strategy often in higher education, healthcare, and business-to-business content marketing. For example, if key data points in a 2016 article are no longer current, that doesn’t mean the story is bad—it just needs a little freshening up.
Ask yourself these questions to determine whether to revise the content:
If you do make changes, remember to update the time stamp and provide a simple statement about when and why the content was last reviewed. For example: This article was updated March 23, 2022, to include new information.
Socially acceptable terminology changes over time (thankfully). The power of digital content is that it’s living and can be continuously updated. If the content is question is mostly on brand and appropriate—save for a few questionable terms or ideas—you might choose to update rather than archive the piece.
Checking for these elements in your content every 2-3 years:
Many organizations review their most popular or traffic-driving evergreen content every six months or annually. Assign a point person or team to check SEO performance, Google Analytics, and key metrics on a set timeline—or sooner, if a big shift in terminology or mindset occurs before your planned review date.
In healthcare, blog posts focused on heart-healthy topics get new views every February. And in B2B, annual conferences around a specific topic lead to new eyes on existing content. News media, societal flux, and online conversations resurface generic topics over and over, giving existing pieces new life almost cyclically.
When you see a topic rising on Moz, Twitter, or Google Trends, search your existing stories and see if you have an older piece to spice up. Adding a fresh intro, hot take opinion, or new call-to-action can give that existing content new legs.
Best practices for archiving a blog will change alongside the social and political landscapes. Consistently checking your past blog content is crucial to maintain your blog’s depth, credibility, and SEO traction.
A good rule of thumb after you’ve been publishing for two years or more is that approximately 50% of your blog traffic comes from articles more than six months old. These stories have long-standing value and can continue to work for you if you tend to them over time. While investing in new stories is important, make sure your editorial calendar has a clear plan for past blog review.
If you would like to talk blog strategy or need help crafting one, schedule time to talk with me. We’d love to help support your thought leadership goals.