Salvaging Content from an Old Blog

This is an article about what to do with that old, cobweb-filled corporate blog of yours.

You know what I’m talking about — those archaic and now mostly useless posts dating back to 2011 (or even earlier) that are still live on your company website.

Yes, ironically, I’m writing this on our blog (very astute of you to notice so quickly), so, believe me, I’m not one of those folks who is jumping up and down on the “Blogging Is Dead” bandwagon and saying you should never blog.

But, you have to admit, you don’t hear too many people talking about blogging these days.

It’s nothing like it used to be, say, three or four years ago.

The Rise and Fall of Blogging

Back then, we’d get a lot of folks asking us to build out blogging platforms for them as part of their corporate website redesign projects.

It made some sense at the time for a few reasons:

  • Blogs were an opportunity to create content with a slightly different voice than the corporate site;
  • You could get lots of employees to write blog posts, which was great for companies that were struggling to create content for their website — important because strong content published in quantity is good for SEO, lead gen, conversions, etc.;
  • You never had to worry about asking IT to upload your content to the website when you were blogging, a problem that many companies struggle with; and
  • It was the in-vogue thing to do.

Fast forward to today and many corporate blogs have been abandoned:

  • Ironically, one of the most popular platforms for building websites is now WordPress, which originated as a blogging platform, but very few people add a proper blog to websites built with WordPress.
  • Many blog posts on many sites were written by employees who are no longer with the company, which is a separate problem unto itself.
  • Blogging is the opposite of being in vogue. It’s not at all cool anymore.

What To Do With An Abandoned Blog

You really can’t win with a blog on your website.

If you keep it up to date, it looks like you are not aware that blogging is no longer cool. On the flip side, if you only post once every four months or don’t post at all, you give the impression that the company (and the company’s marketers) are not all that competent.

So, here’s how to fix your blog problem. You need to convert all the date-posted blog content into a Resources section on the website, using the following steps:

  1. Crawl your website using a product like Screaming Frog and export all your blog page links into a spreadsheet.
  2. Go through every blog post you have in the spreadsheet and classify it as “Keep As Is,” “Keep But Rewrite/Refresh” or “Toss. For example, an October 2011 post about how exciting it is that Apple is launching its Apple 4s phone should get tossed. But a post on the “5 Mistakes Buyers Make…” when buying your offering should probably be kept and converted into a Resources section article. If things have changed considerably since the blog post was written, you should probably rewrite or refresh it. You may also need to do this if the original blogger’s voice is totally different from your corporate voice.
  3. Set up a staging server. None of these steps should be done on a production web server.
  4. The next step is to build out your Resources section and convert all of the “Keep” blog posts into articles. The new pages should no longer have the date stamps that are typical of the blog format. Nobody needs to know when you wrote the article, especially if it was six years ago. You’ll probably also want to get rid of the author’s name but that can be argued both ways.
  5. As you port blog posts over to the Resources section, you’ll want to make sure that you do good SEO housekeeping on the new pages. That might mean that a URL like www.mydomain.com/blog/2010/06/03/Friday-musings-on-how-to-get-started-with-widgets becomes www.domain.com/resources/widget-procurement-best-practices.
  6. Map all the old blog links to a new link using 301 redirects (Google it). Whether the blog post stays or goes, it still needs to be redirected to a current page on the refreshed site.
  7. As one of the final steps in this exercise, you’ll want to get rid of the word “blog” from your entire site. If you were smart enough to call your blog “Insights” or “Perspective,” you can skip this step.
  8. Once you’ve got all the keeper blog posts migrated over to be articles in the Resources section of the site and once you’ve put the 301 redirects in place, you can delete the original blog pages and run through a smart testing plan.
  9. After your QA is finished and all open issues are closed out, cut the staging server to production. Congratulations, you’ve put your old blog to sleep and your blog content salvaging task is done. Hooray!

Counterarguments to the Above Plan for Salvaging a Blog

There are some who think what I’m advocating is not the right approach. Many people, particularly those of us in the SEO community, hate to kill a web page. I’m of that opinion, myself, more often than not. That’s because a site with more pages tends to get more SEO traffic than a similar site with fewer pages, everything else being equal.

But at a certain point, you have to move beyond SEO thinking and think about the impression those old pages make on somebody who is considering doing business with you. It’s like walking into a hoarder’s house. Do you end up with a good impression of that person?

And then there are some who don’t want to remove anything because doing so messes with a historical record that should be sacrosanct, as in “That was what we thought back in October 2011 about the iPhone 4S launch and we need to preserve that thinking for posterity.”

Over at Mashable, they’ve done just that: blog post from October 11 on iPhone launch.

But it’s different for a media publication. They can put adds on those old pages, and the expectation is that their archives will be available.

But this is not the case for our clients, and it’s probably not the case for you either.

Go Forth and Salvage

The bottomline?

It’s more than OK to take those old blog posts down — indeed, it’s the right thing to do for your business.

So, there you have it. Go forth and salvage.

If you need help on the effort, please get in touch with Walker Sands.

We are building some amazing websites for clients these day, and yours is getting pretty old, isn’t it?

It’s time for a refresh: improve the site’s alignment with your new business objectives and new messaging; increase your conversion rates; and, for the love of god, get rid of those old blog posts!

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