Greetings friends, and welcome to another guide in my SEO Basics series! Today we’re talking about the importance of updating your old content instead of creating a new version of the post and how we can refresh evergreen content. In case you’re wondering: yes, this post was born out of my own experience and sheer horror at my 2018 spreadsheet template getting tons of views this January. Oops.
SEO Basics Guides
It’s well known that the subscriber base for book blogs is predominantly made up of other book bloggers. A side effect of tailoring content for other creators in your niche is a focus on how a post performs in the first few days because of how quickly a post goes stale in readers, rather than thinking about attracting new visitors to your blog through organic search. The purpose of Evergreen Content for Book Bloggers and today’s post is to help reframe how we relate to our content and encourage us all to look towards SEO and longevity rather than the short term for posts. So, let’s get started!
Rethink How You “Treat” Blog Posts
Book blogging is a little different from other blogging niches in that our most dedicated audience relies on post readers. I think this is why the community is so tight-knit, and definitely why I love you all! I know that I’m not the only book blogger guilty of being overly reliant on their WordPress Reader or Feedly. We’re all busy people and don’t have the time to visit our favorite blogs every day, so readers are so useful to keep up on all the content! But there’s only so far back someone will go (which is why I prefer Feedly and go back as far as a month)
💭 Related Post: Why I Switched to Feedly for Bloghopping
All of this to say: a blog post has a much longer life beyond when it goes stale in the reader. Our blogs are a collection of our content and you never know who will find your blog randomly on Google and read everything you’ve written, so it’s important that we think about SEO.
Don’t Rank Against Yourself
A golden rule for SEO is never to rank against yourself. This means that instead of having multiple posts with the same topic (and thus having multiple posts ranking for those search terms). Hint: you don’t really want this to happen as it can affect your blog’s overall ranking. While the algorithm is mysterious, we know that duplicate content negatively affects SEO and from a visitor standpoint is kind of confusing.
Not only did I have 3 posts ranking in the top 20 for reading spreadsheets in January when I began working on this post, but two of them are right next to each other on Google! And I knew this would be an issue but I had reasons for creating a new post each year and reasons to not delete the older posts.
So… how did this happen? I made the choice to make a new post every year because I wanted my audience to see the new version of my spreadsheet template in their inboxes or post readers when it’s ready, and I also liked having a visual representation of how it’s grown over the years. It was a piece of Reader Voracious history that I’m intensely proud of, but in 2021 it’s also important that new visitors find what they are looking for (and maybe stick around for awhile).
How did I fix it? This January I set up redirects on my 2018, 2019, and 2020 spreadsheet template post links so if someone clicks on a link or bookmark, the browser brings them to the most recent version (2021). I then marked the old template posts as private on my blog so Google would stop indexing the old versions. Now, I rank #1 on Google for “reader spreadsheet template” and only #1!
How to Refresh your Content
Let’s talk about how you can update your old content with SEO in mind to help increase readability and site discoverability.
Did you know that posting date and post age may affect SEO ranking? Google tries to provide the most relevant results for a given search term, especially for news, current events, and timely topics. It’s often better to update than repost!
There are two ways for you to refresh your old content: update the existing post or update as a new post. It’s always going to be easier to update and republish the existing post. Depending on how your blog is set up (Free WordPress, Blogger, Self-Hosted), there are different strategies you can employ for creating a new post.
- Is this an evergreen or timely post? Is there a time of year where people are more likely to search for this topic?
- Has this post been linked to on other blogs? Does it have a lot of pingbacks?
If a post is evergreen, especially if it has a lot of pingbacks, the best option is to update & republish. From a search standpoint, people will feasibly always search that topic and the opportunity for them to find your post is there.
Refresh Evergreen Content
Evergreen content are those posts that never go out of style and will continue to drive traffic over time. Book reviews, guides, discussions, book lists? All of these are evergreen and things that people could Google for and find your blog!
💭 Related Post: Evergreen Content & Book Bloggers | SEO Basics
A big part of website maintenance needs to be updating and refreshing your existing content and the easiest way to do that is to refresh your evergreen posts. Chances are you made that list book recommendations if you liked The Handmaid’s Tale in 2018 and haven’t looked at it since then… but there’s countless books that I’ve read since that I could add. #SelfBurn
I recommend monitoring the search terms that bring people to your blog and making a list of these posts so you can create a list for updates. Yes, a lot of times we simply see “unknown search terms” – but I fill in the blanks by looking at the older posts visited. When you have a list, you can set aside a little bit of time every month or so to go through the list and make any updates:
- You can add new internal links into your posts (internal linking helps SEO)
- You can add new external links into your post (external linking helps SEO)
- You can add new information that’s come out, as applicable
- You can add new books to listicles
- You should make sure there aren’t any broken links in your posts (which can hurt SEO)
If you’re self-hosted or able to use plugins on your blog, I recommend using the free Posts Modified Date plugin so Google can see the post’s being updated.
Another thing to note is you never know when or if a post will blow up. In October 2020 I wrote a first impressions and guide post for The Storygraph. At the time the website wasn’t well-known and still in beta, but my post blew up on January 1, 2021 when The StoryGraph fully launched out of beta. My post now receives views every single day and it’s ranking as it is because of the post’s age, which is why I’m working on refreshing the post!
Create a New Post
There are some instances when simply refreshing a post does not make sense, and in these cases you can create a brand new post. But you do not want to leave the original post(s) up! Don’t be like Past Kal with four spreadsheet template posts up.
A big reason that I recommend a refresh over repost are free WordPress limitations: you are left with either privating or deleting the old post. If the post has a lot of pingbacks or you link to it a lot internally, all those links will break. Dead links negatively affect SEO, but it’s also kind of a pain in the butt to update all your links.
If you’re self-hosted or are on a platform where you can use plugins, you have the option to redirect your old post to the new post version. This is ideal because if someone visits the post from a bookmark or a deep link in another blog post, they will automatically be redirected to the new post edition instead of hitting a broken link. Most people don’t take the time to search for the post if they land on a “post not found” page, which is a loss of a potential new subscriber.
I use the RankMath plugin to set and manage my post redirections. The plugin is free (affiliate link) and easy to use, and has all your SEO needs (guide coming soon!).
Once you set up the redirect, you can publish your new post and private the old version. It may take some time for Google indexing to catch up on the updates but you won’t need to do anything else!
Ultimately, it’s high time that bloggers – especially book bloggers – change how we view and approach our content management. It’s easy to get swept up in the numbers a post does in its first day/week and think the post’s life is over, but our articles, lists, reviews, and discussions live for as long as our blog hosts them.
Often times all it takes is some keyword changes or reformatting a post with SEO and readability in mind to breathe new life into a post. You never know when an adaptation of a book you reviewed will be announced, or when people will suddenly be on a “books with bodyguard romance” kick, and Google searches will bring new visitors to your posts. But just remember: don’t be like me and rank against yourself!
I hope you found this new SEO Basics for Book Bloggers guide useful!
💬 Do you have any posts competing against each other on Google? Tell me I’m not the only one!
💬 Do you refresh your old posts at all currently?
💬 What questions about SEO do you have?
This post, along with all my other guides and discussions, was released early to my Patrons.
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This is so amazing and helpful 🤩 thank you so much for sharing these wonderful tips with us 😊💛
You’re welcome and I’m so glad you found the post helpful!
Yesha Soni says
I don’t know if I get every bit about SEO. I’m still trying to get my head around it. Right now I make sure in newer posts have good SEO score with all keywords and things required for it and I do research a little how to which keyword to use through free Semrush. I even have changed how do I write title. I still need to see how older posts are doing or if there is broken links. I guess I’ll make habit to refresh one post daily.
Yea I still have so much to learn myself! These guides are really born out of my own desire to learn more about it and sharing what knowledge I glean with the community & how it may be useful to our niche — since book blogging is so different from lifestyle. I think you are doing great already, I should check out Semrush. But yea, optimizing old content is something I need to do too… but I am so tired!
This is so interesting, thank you!! I have to admit that I never really educated myself on how SEO works (my new blog is recent but I used to have another one a few years ago). Your post made me want to look into that, though, so thank you!!
I don’t think many of us are very educated on SEO being hobby bloggers and book blogging is such a different kind of beast. I’m glad to see my post was helpful for you though and inspired you to dive a little deep!
Andrea J says
i’ve been blogging for 10 years and still don’t fully understand SEO. something I need to get better at, I know. I do like the idea of refreshing some old content, when I just don’t have time/energy to create new content every week.
this guide was wonderful, thank you for doing these!
Don’t stress because I think most of us don’t understand SEO! I only do because I used to work in digital communications so it was my job to know, and I’ve taken to learning more to improve the blog since moving self-hosted. Refreshing old content is great low-energy activity that can make a huge difference! Thanks for reading and I’m glad you found the post helpful, Andrea!
Shruvi Karande says
Thanks a lot, Kal for all of these guides. When I started book blogging, I thought the worst difficulty I would face was running out of content. But book blogging is so much more. I am not a big fan of social media- they’re too addicting and my best defense is bailing. So, while not using social media keeps me sane, I also think it affects my blog traffic. I try to console myself that I am not blogging for the recognition, but let’s be honest- it feels good to know that there’s someone on the otherside actually reading your stuff. My only way to attract traffic is Google SEO and Kal’s guides are god sent. I am actually getting positive results. Please, please, please keep publishing these guides Kal.
You’re welcome Shruvi, and I’m glad you found the post useful! I hear you on thinking there isn’t much to it than posting your thoughts and waiting for people to read & comment… and how shocking it was to find out there is a lot more to it. GOOD ON YOU for knowing your boundaries and steering clear of social media! I often abandon it for days or weeks at a time when mental health requires. That said, I don’t think it affects your traffic as much as you might think — the majority of mine comes from search results and the wordpress reader. Social media like twitter is great for getting to know people and maybe a post will pop off and go viral, reaching new people, but that usually isn’t the main driver.
I’m so soso happy these guides are helping you, though! And another thing that will help gain an audience for you especially is blog hopping. Visit other blogs and leave thoughtful comments when you have something to say – most bloggers return comments (or at least check out the blogs of the people who leave comments).
Lashaan Balasingam says
Geez, what a truly insightful post! I have never taken the time to understand the whole SEO thing behind posts but I always knew they played a huge role in understanding how you can drive traffic your way. Thank you for sharing this with us! 🙂
You’re welcome Lashaan, and I’m glad that you found the post insightful. Thanks for stopping by!
Tanaz Masaba says
Loved this post Kal! So many useful tips. I just want to add to what you already said: instead of privating or deleting an old post, you can simply use related but different keywords to rank on Google. For instance, since you are already ranking at the top for the keyword “reader spreadsheet”, you can create a new post on the same topic and try to rank it with the keyword “READING SPREADSHEET” instead. The slight changes in the keyword can actually make a huge difference, and you will have two different posts ranking for two different but related keywords. IMO, that’s better than deleting or privating the old post.
AHHH thank you so much for your comment and suggestion! I agree that you could change the keywords to rank differently — but in the case of my previous spreadsheet iterations, I don’t want those to rank at all. I found that people weren’t clicking through the big link at the top to go to the new version and were just… leaving the blog? It was very strange user behavior lol
This is such a helpful post (and again showed me how much I don’t know about blogging yet 😂)
I’ve been wondering about old posts for a while now, what to do with them, and if I should reshare them, etc.
I’m definitely gonna take your advice and go through my old posts and look if I can update a couple of them with these tips. I’ll have to look through your other SEO guides as well in a bit.
To be fair, I don’t think most bloggers dive deep into the nitty gritty of SEO and whatnot for their posts so you aren’t alone! I’m so happy to see this post was useful to you and good luck refreshing some of your older posts!
Clo @ Cuppa Clo says
This post is a life saver and one I’ll no doubt return to time after time since SEO is a mystery to me. I am also now salty at free WP cause I just, really wish we could utilise redirects. It would be nice you know, I can live without the plugins but redirects would be useful >.> Anyhoo I’ll definitely come back to this when I start to update my blog posts, thank you for the wonderful post kalkal <3
Yea free wordpress really limits you a lot and it sucks, redirects would be so nice BUT you could always edit the existing post to just have a giant link saying “click here for the new version” or whatever and hope people do it? I am sure there’s other workarounds than just privateing. Thanks for reading & commenting, cloclo! <3
Thank you so much for all these tips Kal! I am so lost when it comes to SEOs and this post really helps so much! Thank you for all your guides and I’ll surely be coming back to this when trying to organise and update my blog!
You’re SO WELCOME, Jayati! I love being able to distill this information for our niche and share it with you all so we all can be successful and get all the love and arcs!
Cam @ Camillea Reads says
This is a very helpful guide, Kal! How do I check if I’m ranking against myself on Google? Should I just Google my blog or recent posts?
I never thought much about updating recent posts except to be consistent with layouts. I did not know that it also helped with SEO! I’ll be making sure to make this a regular part of my blog-keeping. Thank you for the tips on how to refresh a post 🖤🖤🖤 You’re amazing!
Thank you so much, Cam! And yea you just have to search your posts/keywords on Google to see where you are ranking. Chances are you are fine unless you have a lot of overlapping kinds of content, and you’ll have a suspicion on what that will be. I’m so glad you found the post useful, love!
Your Tita Kate says
Kal, your blogging tips and tricks are always so helpful. Honestly I feel like my blog wouldn’t be what it is now without your guides and how to posts! You’re amazing!
OH MY GOODNESS, Kate?!?!?! This comment means so much to me, thank youuuuu! (also I love your blog and how you really hit your stride after moving selfhosted.)
Fadwa @ Word Wonders says
these guide posts of yours are absolute gold 😍
Awww, thanks so much Fadwa! This means so much to me xoxo
After so many years I’m still a noooooob at SEO and nothing something I really take the time to look at. But I do need to look at older posts. I especially have to look at posts that still have images linked to hosting sites that stopped. So no image is actually showing. But after the third time in 2 years I got so tired of going through my posts, I haven’t since. I need to make some time again though. Maybe this summer. And while i’m at it I can update en maybe even delete some posts like old Sunday posts that nobody cares about anyway, and I don’t even remember which photos are suppose to go in there.
I think most bloggers (especially book bloggers, who are typically hobbyists and not trying to make a living off it) don’t know much about SEO — and that’s okay! But cleaning up old content is always a good idea, and something I need to be better at myself. I think the main reason I never did Sunday posts was because of how quickly they become stale (and I usually am not reading that much to report on). Good luck!
I love learning more about SEO for book bloggers. I constantly keep looking for and fixing the broken links on my blog. And that in a way helps to keep the posts updated and refreshed.
I love how on point your posts, especially the helpful blogging related ones, are.
Ahh, thank you so much for the compliment Gayathri! I need to be better about monthly maintenance like checking for broken links, I used to do it all the time.
Marie @ drizzle & hurricane books says
I love this post SO much Kal, you’re, as always, the BEST to write any kind of guide, really. Thank you so, so much for sharing this! <3
😭😭😭 wait coming from you this is the highest of praise! Thank you so much, Marie!
Jenna @ Falling Letters says
Thanks so much for this post! The section on refreshing evergreen content is particularly useful for me. I’ve noticed in the past few months I’ve been getting a lot more traffic from Google searches and it’s primarily to lists I wrote at least 6+ months years ago, so updating those might be a good idea.
You’re welcome Jenna, and thanks for stopping by the post – I’m glad you found it useful! And HECK YEA to the Google search traffic on those lists.