How to Update Old Content

How to Update Old Content with PublishPress Revisions

Last Updated on by Michael Brockbank

It’s always a good idea to go back in time on your blog and update old content. It’s a way to improve your SEO while driving additional traffic to some of the oldest articles. Today, I’ll show you how to make those updates using PublishPress Revisions.

It’s an easy-to-use plugin that cuts a lot of time out of revising blog posts, especially if you’re as busy as I am.

Plus, you can set those updates to publish on a future date, which is exceptionally useful if you use push notifications. I’ll explain that part of publishing in a few minutes.

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Why Update Old Content?

Over time, you’ll undoubtedly have articles that become obsolete in one way or another. Or, you’ll write about a topic that needs a bit more fleshing out. The truth is there are many reasons why you’d want to update old content.

For instance, you’d update older articles because:

  • Information on the topic has changed.
  • You learn new tactics for SEO.
  • You want to dive deeper into the topic to improve searchability.
  • The topic grew beyond your initial writing.
  • Your ability to write has vastly improved since publishing.

Why is all of this important? Because Google loves fresh, current, and relevant information. The more detailed you are for a certain topic, the better your article will rank.

In many cases of updating old articles for my client, we watched pieces written five years ago double in traffic over the span of six months simply because we added 400 words and restructured the headers.

In one case, the traffic grew by over 8,000%! For that particular case, I’m talking about tens of thousands of visits per month.

That’s what happens when you polish up something that has an awesome keyword.

How to Use PublishPress Revisions on Your Blog

Before we get started, the point of using PublishPress Revisions is simple. Sometimes, a blog post might need a complete rewrite. And if you’re as busy as I am, sometimes that can take several days. So, do you create a new draft and then copy everything over once you’re done?

That’s one way of doing it.

PublishPress Revisions creates an exact duplicate of the post you want to update as a draft. When you’re done editing, you simply “Approve” the post and PublishPress will move everything over to the old blog post automatically.

Then, it’ll delete the temporary draft on its own. For me, it’s been an incredible time saver.

If you have someone helping you manage the blog content, PublishPress guarantees that your “helpers” don’t update a live post riddled with errors. They can submit the post when they are done and then you can edit and publish the content.

Step 1: Install and Activate PublishPress Revisions

First, you’ll need to install and activate the PublishPress Revisions plugin. Go to the Plugins area of WordPress and click, “Add New.”

Add New Plugin

From this screen, you’re going to look for “PublishPress Revisions.” Note that when you search for Revisions, PublishPress has a lot of other plugins that you might find useful. They’re worth checking out when you have a moment.

Search for, install, and activate PublishPress Revisions.

Revisions to Update Old Content

Step 2: Configure PublishPress Revisions (Optional)

This next step is somewhat optional. After installing Revisions, you’re essentially good to go to start using the plugin. If you’re working on your blog alone, the default settings are virtually all you need.

However, there’s nothing wrong with customizing the settings, especially if you have other writers helping you create content.

Go to the Revisions option on the left admin panel of WordPress and click, “Settings.”

PublishPress Settings

As this will depend on how you want Revisions to behave in WordPress, I won’t break down every single setting. However, I’ll discuss a bit about what each tab does so you have a better idea of what you need to select.

Remember, the default settings are good enough for most solitary bloggers. So, if you’re a beginner blogger, you can skip this step for now. Nonetheless, it might be a good idea to familiarize yourself with these options at a later date.

Post Types Tab

PublishPress will detect every post type your blog uses. From this screen, you can select which types of content you want the “Revise” button to appear. By default, Pages and Posts are already selected.

If you install plugins that use custom post types, most will show up in this section as well.

Revisors Tab

In Revisors, you can control what custom post types are available to writers as well as prevent them from editing other people’s articles. Of course, this is best used if you have several authors for your blog.

Statuses Tab

The Statuses tab lets you choose an alternate labeling system other than the one Revisions uses. Personally, I don’t care as long as I can tell the posts apart.

Revision Creation Tab

In the Revision Creation tab, you can control who has the ability to create a new revision for your content. You can also set auto-submit if the user has publishing capabilities in WordPress.

It’s essentially a bit of a time saver in a team environment.

Revision Submission Tab

The Revision Submission tab gives you control over how submissions are handled by the system. This includes changing the publish date when you update an old piece of content or changing the modified date.

Scheduled Revisions Tab

Scheduling updates are useful for time-sensitive articles or if you don’t want to overwhelm push notifications, as I’ll go over in a moment. From the Scheduled Revisions tab, you can adjust how scheduling behaves.

NOTE: PublishPress uses the WP-Cron job to run tasks. If you disable WP-Cron, you’ll have to de-select “Use WP-Cron scheduling” and select “Site uses a custom trigger for WP-Cron tasks.”

If you don’t know what WP-Cron is or haven’t made adjustments to it, ignore this function for now.

Queue Tab

The Queue tab gives you choices for managing role capabilities for editing and listing revisions of other writers. This is another team feature that prevents people from changing the content of others.

Preview/Approval Tab

From the Preview/Approval tab, you can select whether writers see the preview links in an edit post or whether the “Approve” button is available on the comparing revisions screen.

Again, this probably is unnecessary in a single-user WordPress environment.

Options Tab

In the Options tab, you can enable API actions for post updates, copy comments from revisions to published posts, hide HTML tags, and disable or enable hints. You can also upgrade to the Pro version of PublishPress Revisions, which has compatibility with Advanced Custom Fields, Beaver Builder, and WPML.

Unless you have these plugins installed, you don’t really need to do much in this tab.

Notifications Tab

The Notifications tab lets you set how emails are handled for those editing, revising, or publishing the old content that writers update. This keeps everyone in the loop regarding when posts are submitted and published.

Step 3: Create Your First Revision Post

PublishPress will only show its revision button on pages and posts that have already been published. You won’t see the option for new content.

Find an old post to update and click on it.

On the right side of the WordPress editor, you’ll see a purple button labeled, “New Revision.” Click this button.

Create a New Revision

After a few seconds, PublishPress will have a new draft available that is identical to the original post. The “New Revision” button will change to two new buttons for previewing and editing.

For this tutorial, click the “Edit Revision” button.

Edit Revision

PublishPress will open a new tab window for the draft of the revision post or page. It will be virtually identical to the original including images, tags, and categories.

Step 4: Save Draft, Submit, or Approve

Now, you are free to make any edits to update the old content in any way you see fit. Your updates could be simple, such as adding a new section to dive a bit further into the topic. Or, they can be complete rewrites that will take you days to finish.

In any case, you can edit the revision copy without affecting the live post or page. The way you can tell you’re editing the copy is that the Save draft, Submit, and Approve buttons are all purple.

Editing to Update Post or Page Content

Saving a Draft

While you’re working on your update, click the “Save draft” button on the top right. PublishPress will save the content so you can come back to it later if you’d like.

In a moment, I’ll show you where to find the revisions as they are in their own section of WordPress.

It’s also a good idea to save the draft periodically in case something happens, such as a power outage or if your computer crashes.

Submitting the Article

Writers can click the “Submit” button when they are done making edits. This will send editors an email telling them so-and-so has finished updating an old post. From there, editors can then Approve or send it back for further adjustments.

If you’re working on your blog by yourself, you probably don’t need to worry about this function.

Approving the Revision

When you’re satisfied the post or page has been thoroughly updated, click the “Approve” button. PublishPress will then copy all of the content from the revision to the live page and delete the draft.

If you have any social sharing or push notification plugins, they might trigger as WordPress behaves as though the content is new. This is actually quite handy as it’ll help you get the revised post sent to new followers and subscribers.

Where are the Revisions?

Let’s say that you’re working on a long update and it’s taking you several days to finish. Or, perhaps you have a writer helping you and want to check on the progress.

You can find the current updates in the Revision Queue.

Go to Revisions and click, “Revision Queue.”

Revision Queue

You can also just click the Revisions from the WordPress admin panel.

In the Revision Queue, you’ll see every post and page that is currently slated for an update of the old content. From here, you can choose to access the article to approve it, preview the changes, or click the Compare option to see the difference between the old content and the new.

Revision Queue for Old Content

7 Tips and Ideas to Update Old Content

Updating older content can come in all shapes and sizes. It really depends if the piece needs an update or not. In fact, you’ll find articles more than 10 years old still performing well in search.

What kind of updates should you perform for older content?

  • Expanding on a topic. The more information you share about a topic, the happier Google and visitors become.
  • Updating information. Check to make sure the content is still accurate, especially if you are writing tutorials.
  • Search Engine Optimization changes. Sometimes, Google will change things up that may affect your content.
  • Answering common questions. The People also ask section of Google is a treasure trove of things you could add to a post.
  • Sprucing up the writing. As you continue to write, your abilities will surely improve.
  • Adding internal backlinks. Your internal linking structure is vital for success on Google. Update the links to and from old content.
  • Adding some fresh, new images. Unique images are always better than stock photos. Or, perhaps you have a better photo for the content.

Normally, I’ll look for articles that are not in the top 10 of a Google search for their keywords. You can find this information for free using Google’s Search Console.

If the post isn’t hitting the top 10 positions over the past six months, I’ll plan an update.

Of course, I’m only updating posts that have a focused keyword or phrase. I have quite a bit of content that wasn’t necessarily intended for SEO, but for my followers and subscribers instead.

Keep in mind that longer posts tend to work exceptionally well in terms of traffic, but you don’t want to fill a post up with fluff and filler. Always make sure what you’re adding to the content is relevant to the topic.

Scheduling to Publish with Push Notifications

So, push notifications are those messages that pop up on your browser or computer when new content is published from a platform you follow. For example, YouTube uses push notifications to let you know a new video is up from someone you consistently watch.

Blogs are similar.

The idea of push notifications is to bring visitors back to your content when you publish a new post. That way, you’ll immediately get a handful of visits to your new content once it goes live.

When it comes to updating older content, PublishPress will use your push notification system to let people know there is an article available. I’m not sure if it works with all push systems, but it does with OneSignal…the platform I use on this website.

As I mentioned earlier, WordPress will behave as if it is a new article. This means social sharing plugins like Jetpack’s Publicize will update social accounts when the update happens.

This is one of the reasons why I suggest scheduling updates at times when you don’t normally have an article published.

For example, if you have a Monday, Wednesday, and Friday publishing schedule for your blog, it might be better to schedule updates to publish on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

That way, people who follow your blog aren’t inundated with a barrage of posts all at once.

Resharing Posts on Social Media and Why

Resharing your older posts after an update can drive new eyes to your content. What if someone followed your Twitter account yesterday? He or she might not know about the awesome post you wrote two years ago.

When using PublishPress Revisions, these updates may be automatic depending on your sharing plugin. However, what if you don’t have a plugin to share posts for you?

I often use platforms like Buffer. Although the free account is a bit limited if you have a lot of social accounts for your blog, it works awesomely for sharing updates.

Another good platform is Hootsuite.

The bottom line is that resharing your old content after an update can work wonders to help kickstart growth in traffic. If anything, it’ll help your new followers see what else you provide on your website.

Ready to Update Your Old Content?

Updating old content has the potential to bring in new visitors. It all comes down to what needs updating and why. Not everything you polish up is going to land right with your audience or Google.

Still, it’s worth the time you spend sprucing up the posts as it could easily drive far more people to read about the topic.

Think about it this way; it’s important enough to update old content that my clients pay me well to do so. And the end results have been nothing but stellar.

When was your oldest post published?

Michael Brockbank
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