This was the response to an article I tweeted out recently. Yes, the article was dated 2008. Did that mean it wasn’t a valid, timely, and invaluable resource?
It was, but that’s not the point. Some people equate old with useless. With the aging population gaining the majority around the world, we need to change our attitude about aging, so let’s start with blog posts.
The most popular post on my site continues to be “What Do You Do When Someone Steals Your Content.” Written in 2006, people still find value in the words, even if they now refer to it as “old” or “dated.” With more than 600 comments and endless trackbacks, it continues to help thousands of people every year understand that they are not alone when it comes to copyright violations and content theft, and that there are things they can do. Those steps have not changed in 7 years. The law regarding the rights of intellectual property moves very low.
I’ve gotten flack for many posts I’ve written and “Cleaning Up Old Posts, The Gateway to Your Blog” on The Blog Herald was no exception. What I thought was a simple site maintenance topic became a rip-roaring argument around the web. There is a solid mind-set that old posts are junk posts, forgotten and ignored purposefully. Only recent content matters. Fixing old stuff is a waste of time. Put all your energy into new content.
In this Blog Exercise, we’re going to be wasting time cleaning up old posts.
Blog exercises such as the monthly Random Editing Day and others call for you to dig into your publishing past, “putting things right, that once went wrong,” to paraphrase from the television show, Quantum Leap.
In my classes and workshops, I ask the participants to identify the most popular entry point to a website. The majority answer with the front page. While it may be true for some sites, for the majority the correct answer is any web page on the site. Specifically, it is the most popular posts on the site.
Any article on your site could be the source someone needs to get their question answered. Any article. Popular or not. Editing and updating every post on your site is tedious and boring, so focus on the ones most likely to be a gateway to your site. Keep your most popular posts updated.
Your blog exercise today is to check your site’s stats for the top 10 most popular posts and edit and update them if necessary.
Your top 10 may flux from week to week or may stay consistent. Choose the top 5-10 for this week to edit. Depending upon the age and condition of the article content, it may take 30 seconds to 30 minutes for each post. Hopefully the entire task will take you less than 30 minutes.
In the Random Editing Day exercise I listed some tips to help you edit the randomly selected articles. Apply these to your editing process. Look for spelling errors, dead links, images that need updating, and adjusting the voice and flow of content to match your current style.
As you explore each one, consider the statistics associated with each post. The WordPress.com Stats WordPress Plugin and stats for WordPress.com allow you to see the entire history of a single post. I took a look at “What Do You Do When Someone Steals Your Content,” one of the most consistently popular posts on my site.
Ignoring the occasional spikes that article tends to attract, the average visits to that article are 37,000 a year. That breaks down to 100 people a day entering my site through that article. Keeping that article updated helps maybe half of them directly. That’s 50 people a day helped. Fifty people receive the answer to their query, get the confidence they need to do the right thing in response to content theft, and possibly 50 hearts changed from miserable to positive.
When I look at it that way, I think about all the jobs I could have in this world, what could bring greater joy than one so easy to bring answers and assurance to 50 people every day. For them, I keep that post updated.
Your most popular posts are the doors to your site. They welcome people on a regular basis. Let them feel welcome. Encourage them to tour your entire virtual home, finding comfort in all the rooms. Let them rest a while here and there and know this is a safe and comfortable place to return for more.
If you choose to blog about this subject, remember to include a hat tip link back to this post to create a trackback, or leave a properly formed link in the comments so participants can check out your blog exercise task.