Third and final part of the "Get Your Blog Ready for Next Year" series.
Often, your readers' first introduction to you is through one of your oldest posts — you know, the ones in mothballs at the back of your archive. When readers find themselves in your back pages, they should see you at your best, just as they would if they landed on your newest post.
It's easy for the archive to get a little stale over time, but it's not hard to get it tidied up and fresh. Let's get started!
Delete Pointless Comments
Isn't it wonderful when you read a great blog post, then see that it has nothing but thoughtful, useful comments? That's no accident; the author is pruning out the pointless comments with no mercy.
With that in mind, I bet you already know which comments to cut during your year-end sweep. Yes, it's that rude comment that added nothing to the discussion. And yeah, delete that self-promoting-but-not-quite-spam comment from the e-commerce site that's kinda in your niché.
If you don't like it, cut it and don't feel sorry about it. It's your blog, you're in charge of the discussion. How you manage that discussion tells your readers a lot about you.
Remove or Correct Dead Links
Dead links are frustrating for readers, and search engines don't like them, either. So, clean them up for the new year!
There are many online tools for finding broken links in your blog, so I'm just going to recommend one that works for blogs on any platform. If you have fewer than 3,000 pages in your blog you can use brokenlinkcheck.com to find dead links for free (there's a premium version, too, if you have a larger site).
When you run your first broken link scan, your results may be startling. But don't panic, even if you have a lot of dead links. It's rare that a broken link is an urgent emergency. And, you'll probably have a few "false positives".
Give priority to fixing broken links that appear site-wide first. For example, if you discover that a link in your sidebar blogroll is dead, correct that first, then move on to dead links in your posts & static pages. Finally, move on to removing comments with dead links when you have time.
Refresh Your "Greatest Hits"
You probably already know which posts in your archive are the most popular, but if you don't, identify them in Google Analytics (check the "Content" section) or in your blogging platform's built-in stats. Go back through those gems with an objective eye, and see if you can add a little polish to keep them relevant for the long-haul.
Think about how you'd write your best posts if you were writing them today. Has your writing style changed? Do you use different graphics now, or perhaps a little bit of CSS flair? Think about applying your newest styling to your vintage posts to help bring them into the present.
If you decide to give your older, popular posts a makeover, don't be shy about reintroducing them to your followers! Link to them in your new posts, and re-share them through social media. Followers who've seen it before won't hold it against you, and it gives your new followers a good reason to dig into your archives and see more of what makes you great.
What To Do With Obsolete Posts
Sometimes, a post is just not relevant anymore. Maybe it's a sponsored post from a defunct company, or a giveaway that closed two years ago. Or, maybe it just doesn't fit the theme of your blog anymore — that's common if you've been blogging for years and the focus of your blog has shifted over time.
An obsolete post does your blog and its readers no good. So, what should you do with it? Let's figure it out!
First, go through your archives and identify irrelevant posts. There's no exact science for rooting them out — you'll know them when you see them. After you've compiled a list of pointless posts, take a look a their stats, either in Google Analytics or in your blog's built-in stats.Popular, But Irrelevant
If an obsolete posts is still getting a lot of views, consider rewriting it to bring it up to date, or link your readers to more up-to-date content at the very top of the post.Unpopular and Irrelevant
Posts that are unpopular with readers and unloved by you are good candidates for deletion. If you use Blogger or self-hosted Wordpress, you can redirect the URL of a deleted post to another, more relevant post or page in your blog (see the Resources at the end of this post for more info).
I know the idea of deleting a post can strike fear in the hearts of bloggers. But, don't be afraid to delete something that is doing no one any good. The few visits your worst posts get may bump up your pageviews a little, but they're not going to help you grow. Focus your attention on creating new, great posts, and you'll quickly recover from any traffic loss that may come from trimming away a post that's truly dead.
- If you use self-hosted Wordpress, you can use the Broken Link Checker plugin to find and repair broken links.
- Blogger users can use the new custom redirects feature to redirect links from deleted posts to another post or page.
- Self-hosted Wordpress users can use the Redirection plugin for URL redirects. It's also handy for identifying dead links, so it's a two-fer!
The "Get Your Blog Ready For Next Year" Series
This is the final post in a three-part series. Need to catch up? Here are parts one & two:
Lemon photo CC-BY-SA Sean Neakums