How to Get Content and Earn Credibility with Old News

* Brisbane, Australia in 1959 - Creative Commons licensed image by pizzodisevo.


Who wants to read yesterday’s news? This might sound like a rhetoric question but it’s not: Google users or searchers want to read old news.

People actually seek out your old, even archaic content right now.

What do they find? Outdated information and dead links. Remember! Posts from years ago are still online!

I checked a blog of mine which turned 5 and noticed an anomaly in my analytics. I took a closer look at the post in question.

A short post had 20 visitors from Google in a month for being #1 for a specific but still not that rarely used term. It contained 4 external links and 3 of them were dead.

Your Credibility Suffers When Links Break and Content Becomes Stale

Do you think people who end up on your blog and click your links to find 404 error messages or worse domain grabbers’ cheap ad infested sites will want to come back?

Well I guess this is really a rhetorical question. So what to do? Clean up months or years of archived posts? No, this is obviously too much and also not really rewarding work. What can you do when content becomes stale then?

Instead of giving up and letting it rot view it as a positive opportunity to get fresh content without actually writing it anew, just update one old post at a time.

You can earn additional credibility updating existing content as people appreciate well kept websites as reliable resources.

Just mark the post as updated with the classic line from static websites in pre-blog times “Update [date]” and also describe what it was exactly that you updated.

Many open source projects do it this way with their software. This method works fine and tells the visitors: This project is alive and kicking.

Now with blogging you could argue that the visitor will see that it’s alive looking at the latest posts or visiting the front page.

Most people won’t check more than the page they landed on though, they will exit your site on the broken page they entered.

A Few Minutes Can Make the Difference

In the above mentioned case it took me less than 10 minutes to research the new links. Some were on a different page within the same site.

One disappeared altogether but I found a very similar one elsewhere within minutes. Then I changed the date in WordPress to the current one and added an

“Published at [date]. Last updated at [date]”

line at the bottom as well as an update notice above stating that the links have been fixed. That post now appears as “new” on my front page.

By now I automate the date change btw.! Updated posts automatically get a “last updated” time stamp below instead of the originally published date.

There are WordPress plugins that can show your “last updated” date but I haven’t found the perfect one yet thus I won’t recommend the one I use. I had to hack it a bot to make it useful.

Let’s recapitulate the benefits of updating “old” or rather existing content for longevity:

  • You don’t have to write a new post.
  • A post from years ago has most probably been not yet read by the current blog readers.
  • Even if they they did the additional value of new links makes sense for them as well.

With just a few minutes of work you can both get content and earn credibility for your blog with old news.

Do not forget, your archive is your goldmine, when it’s full of rocks and dust readers won’t discover the gold though.

* Brisbane, Australia in 1959 – Creative Commons licensed image by pizzodisevo.