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In today’s episode, I want to talk about a trend that I’ve noticed amongst many experienced bloggers that may explain something you might have noticed amongst them. A lot of more experienced bloggers are slowing down how much new content they are producing. This is partly because many of them are lengthening the content, it takes a little bit longer to write. But there’s also another reason.
I want to talk a little bit about one of the trends I’ve noticed amongst full time bloggers. Experienced bloggers who’ve been around for a while that might explain a little bit why they’re not publishing as much, yet they’re still building traffic to their blog. It’s got to do with looking after their archives and it’s something that I think most of us have been blogging even for six or so months should be paying attention to. This is something I talked about at Social Media Marketing World over the last week or so. I just got home from that conference. As I talked about this, I had a lot of people come out to me after my session and say this is something they’ve been doing or something they want to do more of.
You can get today’s show notes over at problogger.com/podcast/238 where there’s also a full transcript of the show.
Today, I want to talk about your archives. I want to talk about those posts you’ve already written. I know many bloggers don’t really pay much attention to their archives, they write a post and that’s the last they think about them. The work has been done, I’ve written the post, it’s published, it’s now working for me. But tonight I want to put forward an idea that I think has the potential to drive a lot of traffic to your blog and to help you build profit around your blog as well.
The idea really starts with this premise: your archives are an asset. Your archives are something that are incredibly valuable. As I just looked at my Google Analytics a few minutes ago, I can see the most popular page on my site is the homepage. It’s getting more traffic than any other page, yet it’s only getting about 8% of my traffic as I look at it now. 8% of my traffic which means 92% of my traffic is coming into another page of my site, a page that isn’t my most popular page on the site. As I dig into that, there’s a few post that are getting more traffic than others, but collectively, it is the individual posts that I’ve written over the last 16 years of blogging now, almost, that is getting the majority of my traffic.
Whilst the front page is really important, 92% of my traffic in the last hours or so has come into individual posts on my blog. Which means 92% of my income from my Google AdSense Ads, from my Amazon affiliate accounts, from my other affiliate income, 92% of that income is really dependent upon my archives. This is something that I think we need to pay attention to. A lot of us pay a lot of attention to our front page, we design that front page, we might design our start here page and pay a lot of attention to that, keep going to that and optimize it, make it better. We pay a lot of attention to our sales pages because if we’re selling a product, we can optimize those, we can do better.
But one of the things I wanna encourage you to do this week and in an ongoing sense is to pay attention to your archives. If you’re getting 92% of your traffic to a single type of page, then that’s something you need to pay attention to. The reality is there’s gold in your archives, no matter what monetization method you use, there’s gold in your archives. You have income earning potential in your archives because of that traffic coming in. You’ve got the potential for new readers that you could hook into your newsletter list, you’ve got potential at advertising revenue as well. Your archives are really important.
But here’s the thing, your archives are depreciating. Any asset depreciates. I did accounting in year 11 and year 12 at high school. I know the basics of depreciation but I’m certainly no expert on it. But the thing I do know is that assets tend to depreciate.
Here’s the test, if you go back to the first post you wrote, whether you wrote them six months ago, whether you wrote them 16 years ago, if you go back and have a look at those early posts that you wrote, I would bet that each and every one of us would be cringing at something in those posts. That cringe that you do, that internal grimace, that internal squirming in your seat as you look at that old post is a sign that your archives have depreciated. Maybe it’s the way they look, maybe you, like I did, have tiny, little images in your archives.
Back in the day, back in 2004, 2005, I remember when I started to use images in my post, they were tiny images and I’ll thumbnail them so you can click the image and make them larger. That’s something I don’t do anymore. Today, we use big images. Maybe it’s the style of writing, maybe you’re writing in a voice that has developed, maybe you wrote in a naïve way about your topic.
Maybe you go back and look at those posts and you can see errors in them. Maybe they’re broken links. Maybe the facts aren’t right. Or maybe they are just out of date, maybe they were written for 2006 and more relevant to that date but they’re not relevant anymore. Maybe the formatting of the post is different. Back in the day, I didn’t use headings when I first started blogging. I used to write these big large slabs of text.
I would guarantee that even if you’ve only been blogging for 6-12 months, that if you go back and look at those old blog posts, that you will have a moment of cringe. And that cringe is a sign of depreciation of your archives because if you are cringing, you can bet that your readers are going to have a cringe or two themselves when they stumble upon those archives.
Remember, 92% of my traffic is going to my archives. You just think about the amount of people that are seeing content that maybe isn’t quite as good as it can be. That has an impact upon the revenue that you are able to earn, the rate that people will subscribe and want to connect with you, that’s a really important thing.
Your archives are depreciating but here’s the thing that I’ve learned over the last few years. Maintaining those archives, paying attention to those archives can reverse that depreciation, or at the very least, slow down that depreciation. I have blogpost in my archives and I shared an example of this at Social Media Marketing World. I had a post in my archives that have grown in traffic since I wrote them, not just because my blog has improved and had more readers come to it but because I’ve improved those posts to the point where people are now sharing them more when they come across them. To the point where Google is now seeing them as a high quality article than they used to be, so it is ranking them at a higher rate as well.
Pay attention to your archives is the thing that I want to talk about today. We maintain our assets. I maintain my home, I maintain my car, my car got serviced last week, I maintain my business assets, my computers, my printers, my phone, I maintain my body. I see my body as an asset. I know that if I don’t maintain these things, they would be worthless later, they won’t perform as well later. I will pay for their lack of maintenance. So I put attention into caring for these things.
What I want to challenge myself to do today and you to do today is to pay a bit more attention to those archives. Here’s the trend that I’ve noticed. This is something I’ve not heard too many people talk about. I didn’t hear a single person talk about this at Social Media Marketing World.
It’s something that I am hearing more and more from the successful bloggers, that they are slowing down how much new content they’re producing. Part of the reason that they’re doing that is so that they can put more time into caring for and maintaining those posts that they wrote years ago. They are seeing, and this is really key, they are seeing bigger increases in their traffic as a result of improving what they’ve already written than writing new content.
Your new posts do have potential to bring you traffic in, and they will. But if you’ve got posts that are already ranking in Google, they might be ranking six or seven in Google and if you can improve that post to the point here it is ranking higher, then that is going to bring you more traffic in the long run than one new post. If you improve an old post to the point where it will be shared at a higher rate for the next 10 years, then that has the potential as well to have a massive impact upon your blog as well. That’s what a lot of these bigger, more successful, more experienced bloggers are paying attention to.
You might be thinking this isn’t relevant to me. I’ve already been blogging a year. Here’s the key, I really think that even if you’ve only been blogging for 6 months or 12 months, that you need to be paying attention to your archives as well because they are dating as well. Also, if you maintain and get into the habit of maintaining your archives in the early days of your blog, you’re going to actually find that you need to do less work down the track. I myself, have 8000 post in my archives on ProBlogger. That’s a lot of post that I need to maintain. I wish I’d started this process earlier.
Let me just talk for a moment about some of the benefits of updating your archives. I’ve already alluded to this. Firstly it’s great for search engine optimization. Google loves content that is up to date, that is of high quality, that loads well, loads fast, doesn’t have broken links, that is a good experience for readers. It’s going to help you in terms of SEO. It’s good for social sharing. Someone sharing to a post in your archives that is date, that is broken, that looks a little bit old fashioned, that is hard to read, they’re not likely to share that content when they come from Google. But if they come to a post and it’s done, they make it looks beautiful, it’s easy to read, it’s helpful, it’s relevant for to date, of course, they’re much more likely to share. So that brings in more traffic as well.
It’s good in terms of the reading experience as well which makes them much more likely to become hooked into your community, to connect with you on Facebook, or to subscribe to your newsletter, to grab your opt-in, and it also lengthens the income generation potential for your blog as well.
The post I shared at Social Media Marketing World is a post I wrote on Digital Photography School in 2007. It’s a post about ISO which is just a basic factor in photography, something that helps you to expose your photos better. It’s a post I wrote in 2007, it probably took me two hours to write. When I first wrote it, it had about 100 visitors a day coming to it. It really wasn’t that successful but because I’ve improved it overtime and lengthened it, I’ve deepened it, I’ve added new images to it, it’s now getting 3000-4000 visitors a day. As a result of that, it’s earning income everyday from AdSense ads, and it’s hooking new readers into our site as well. It’s lengthened the income generation potential as well to my site.
Here’s my challenge for you today. It is to identify a post that you can go back and update. Ultimately, I want you to do this in an ongoing way. I want you to go back and build it into your editorial calendar and to do hundreds of your posts in your archives. But it’s all going to start with a single post. Here’s my challenge: identify a post that you can update today. This doesn’t mean you have to go back and rewrite the whole post. It may be that some of your posts need that. But even just some small tweaks to your post and I’ll give you a few things that you might want to look for. Even those small tweaks are going to help you.
In fact, when it comes to search engine optimization, it can be better just to tweak your posts rather than to completely rewrite them. That’s the advice that I’ve been getting in terms of SEO. What posts are you going to choose? I would personally be starting with your most trafficked post. Most of us have a post in our archives that is getting more traffic than any other post. The example I gave before of that ISO post, it’s one of the most trafficked post, it gets a lot of eyeballs and so it’s one I regularly go back to update. Over the years I’ve updated it probably every six or so months.
Look at the posts that are getting a lot of eyeballs. Maybe the traffic’s coming in from search engine optimization, or from Google, maybe it’s coming in from social sharing, maybe it’s getting a lot of links from another blog, maybe it’s got Pinterest traffic. It doesn’t really matter the source of it. If you can improve that post, you’re going to continue to improve the post. Start with one of those posts.
The other type of post you might want to look at is posts that you’ve written in the past that haven’t performed as well as you thought they would. Maybe it’s a post that you put a lot of time and effort into back in the day. You think it’s got potential but no one else has taken that. Maybe an update of that post, a refreshment of that post, giving it some new visual elements may actually help that.
The other type of post that you might want to look back to is one of your early posts. Just something that’s dated and broken. Most of us are aware that there’s a post in our archives somewhere that does need an update. If you have one of those posts coming to mind, I would start with that as well.
Identify a post and once you’ve identified that post, there’s a number of things that you can do. You could rewrite that post. If it’s completely rubbish, you might want to completely update it. But as I said before, there’s lots of little tweaks you can do as well. Here’s a few things you might want to suggest and if you want to grab this list, check out the show notes today because there’s the transcript there and you better find it.
Firstly, you might want to fix any obvious errors, if there’s any factual errors, if there’s any spelling mistakes, if there’s any broken links, anything that is broken or wrong, that should be where you start.
Secondly, updating the content for today. You may have used some examples that were from five, six years ago when you wrote the post. What could you add to the post that makes it relevant for 2018, if that’s when you’re listening to this. If you’re listening to this next year, what could you do to make it relevant for 2019? You want it to be fresh, you want people to come to it and feel like it still matters today.
Thirdly, you want to make it longer, you might want to add more depth to it. Maybe you want to add some examples, maybe you want to add some quotes, maybe you want to add some extra points, if it’s a teaching article and you add a little bit more. Pay attention to the comments that your post may have received. Maybe there’s some questions in those comments that you could answer in the post. Because if someone else has asked a question at the end of reading your post, you can bet that other people will ask that as well.
Maybe you could add the flipside if you’ve argued a strong case for something. Maybe there’s an alternative point of view that you could add in there. Maybe you could add a quote from someone else. Maybe you could actually interview someone who’s an expert in the field and get a quote specifically from them.
Fourthly, you can improve the visual elements of the post. Maybe adding a new image, maybe you want to add an image overlay, some text over the top, maybe you want to format it differently by adding some headings that makes it a little bit more scannable, you might want to add a list. Something that is going to break up the post, give it a visual appeal, and make it easier to read. Test all the links, I mentioned broken links earlier and fixing those, but you do want to go through the posts and click all the links that you’ve got in your post to make sure they still work today. Google doesn’t like broken links.
You might want to add some further reading. Maybe you’ve written something else since you wrote that old post and you could link to that for further reading in the post or link to it in the middle of the post as well to get people across to some of your more recently written content. You might want to also add some further reading externally. Maybe there’s another blog that you recommend. This might seem a little counterintuitive sending people away from your blog but it actually is going to increase the positive experience that your readers have as well, and it might build a relationship with that other blogger.
You might want to optimize the post for search engine optimization. I know back in 2004, 2005, when I started to learn about SEO, the trends in SEO were a little bit different than they are today. Back in the early days, it was all about keyword density. You wanted to use the keywords that you were targeting over and over and over again, today that’s not quite as important. There’s other elements as well. You might want to just tweak your post, particularly think about the words that people might be plugging into Google when they search for this type of information which might impact the heading that you choose.
Another thing that you might want to do is optimize the post for social sharing. Again, some of my old posts, I had calls to action for people to share the content on social networks that don’t really exist anymore. I remember in the early days, encouraging people to share my content on MySpace, that’s how long I’ve been blogging. If you’ve got a lot of traffic these days coming in from Pinterest, maybe you want to have a call to action to share. Maybe you even want to add a social graphics to the ends of your post, try and get people to share as well.
Lastly, what do you want people to do at the end reading that post? Maybe you want them to subscribe, maybe you want them to grab one of your opt ins, maybe if your post is getting a lot of traffic you want to create a new opt in that is specific to people reading that post. This is something that we’re considering doing more and more. We’ve got a number of posts, probably less than 10 on Digital Photography School that get a lot of traffic today. One of the things that I would like to do is to create just some very simple opt ins that relate specifically to those individual blog posts. I may not use those opt ins anywhere else in the whole site but we’re getting so much traffic to this individual post that it makes sense to me to create some little opt ins that would hook people into our newsletter list.
What do you want people to do at the end of reading your post? Maybe it’s reading another post, maybe it’s subscribing, maybe there’s a product that you could offer a special coupon code for, an affiliate product perhaps. Really think about the call to action that you’ve got. This is one of the big things that I like to pay attention to.
There’s a lot of things that you can do and the last thing I’d encourage you to do is to really pay attention to when you cringe when you read your post. As you read through that old post that you’ve chosen to update, just pay attention to when you have discomfort in reading the post. Your internal cringe meter, if that’s a thing, will tell you how to update the post, so pay attention to that.
The last thing I want to encourage you to do once you’ve updated your post, there’s two things. Firstly, I want you to come over to our Facebook group and share the post that you updated. I’m going to start a thread in our Facebook group asking you to share the post that you updated so that we can see what you’ve done and maybe we can even give each other some hints and suggestions and critique in how to improve them better. If you are not already a part of our Facebook group, just search on Facebook for ProBlogger Community and you’ll find the group, and then look for the post which we’ll probably pin to the top somewhere about maintaining your archives and share that post.
The last thing I’d encourage you to do once you’ve updated your first post, shared it in our Facebook group, is I challenge you to do this on a regular basis. To make sure you do that, I want to encourage you to add it to your editorial calendar. Some of you have already got a formal editorial calendar, and for you, I would encourage you to add the task of updating a single post every week, every month, every day, it’s up to you as to the interval, but add it in there. Secondly, for those of you who don’t already have an editorial calendar, add it to your mental editorial calendar.
I know a lot of bloggers just know that they’d post a new post on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, or every Thursday, add into your editorial calendar that you update a post every whatever day it is, maybe it’s the first Tuesday of every month or maybe it’s every Tuesday. Commit to doing this on a regular basis.
If you update one of your posts every week for the next year, you’re going to have 52 posts in your archives that are going to be driving more traffic to your site. They’re going to be creating a bigger and better impression upon your readers, and this has the potential to accelerate the growth of your blog, to build more traffic around your blog as well. It’s such a powerful thing to do but only powerful if you do it on a regular basis. Make it as important to you as creating new content to your blog and you’re going to see a lot of life coming to your blog as well.
Again, today’s show notes are at problogger.com/podcast/238. Our Facebook group, just do a search on Facebook for ProBlogger Community. Once you’ve done your update, come over there and let us know about it as well. I can’t wait to see the post that you update and I look forward to chatting with you next week in episode 239.
For those of you who love this type of challenge type podcast, I really do encourage you to check out our 31 Days to Build a Better Blog cause which is being released in the next week or two. Go to problogger.com/31days where you can sign up for notifications. That’s probogger.com/31days. Thanks for listening, chat with you next week.