Are Your Old Blog Posts Damaging Your Blog? How To Stop It From Happening

Should bloggers delete, update or republish old blog posts?

I had a question from Michelle, who blogs at Boomer, Eco Crusader.

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Your old blog posts could be damaging the health of your blog

Here are Michelle’s questions: 

As I move into my fourth year of blogging, sometimes I look back on my early posts and cringe. It’s great that I’ve come a long way as a writer, but I’d love to refresh some of those old posts. Is it better to delete them and republish as a new post, or just go in and update them? Also, does deleting old posts impact SEO rankings?

I’m going to tackle Michelle’s last question first.

Many blogging professionals agree that keeping old, out-of-date blog posts reduces your blog’s overall SEO (search engine optimisation) rating. Even if you regularly publish new blog posts, your blog will suffer if you have old, out-of-date information. Your new blog posts will also receive a lower ranking.

SEOs dislike out-of-date information and will redirect readers to sites with up-to-date information. This is one of the reasons that I recommend every blogger updates their ‘About Me‘ page at least once every six to nine months, especially if it includes pingbacks and links. 

Old, out-of-date, and irrelevant blog posts and pages (including your out-of-date ‘about me’ page) serve no purpose on your blog or your reading audience.

I have a clearout of old blog posts at least once a year, usually in December, when I find the blogging world a lot less busy.

Do this first before deleting any blog posts

Before deleting any old blog posts, consider a few things. I’ll cover these in my answers to Michelle’s other question: Should bloggers update old blog posts or rewrite them and delete the older post? 

If a post is still relevant, useful and contains evergreen content, I’d recommend that you update it. More so if it includes valid pingbacks to other live posts on your blog or to other blogs and websites. 

Don’t forget to check if the post has any incoming pingbacks from other blogs that are still valid (you’ll find these in the post’s comments section).

I recently deleted a pingback from a blogger who had deleted the post that included a pingback to one of my posts. SEOs dislike broken links. They don’t look good on your blog, and if it contains too many broken links, readers will probably not return.

When should I rewrite an old blog post?  

If a post has out-of-date content or is poor quality (including images), but you feel it is still relevant, rewrite it. Don’t forget to delete the older version before publishing your new post.

When rewriting the post, give it a new title. Think of a title that would make you want to find out more or make you want to click the ‘read more’ link.  

If you have content that is out of date, irrelevant and/or poor quality, but you feel it can be salvaged – even if that means a complete post rewrite – then you should do that!

After you delete any old posts, I recommend that you also check for any broken links on your blog.

You can do this by running a report on a free broken link checker site such as Brokenlinkcheck.com. However, beware! If you’ve never performed a broken link check on your blog before, the report you receive could be rather overwhelming. I’d recommend pausing the report once you get to 20 broken links, fixing them, and running another report.

WordPress also offers a broken link plugin, although this will only be available to those on certain WordPress plans or bloggers with a self-hosted blog.

Once you have run a broken link check, I recommend you perform one at least once a month or whenever you delete any old blog posts.

Another good practice is to delete any pingbacks in blog posts you’re about to delete before deleting the post.

Can re-written blog posts become successful?

Yes, defiantly.

I have rewritten and republished many of my earlier blogging tips posts. Not only had they received few views, but I felt the quality was poor, and they had poor quality images. As I rewrote them, I updated procedures and added better quality images that did not slow down my blog. I also added pingbacks to some of my other most successful posts.   

Many of these posts have since become my most successful and best-performing posts.

Let’s wrap it up

  • Delete any old blog posts containing out-of-date information that can no longer be salvaged.
  • Before deleting old blog posts, deactivate the post’s incoming and outgoing pingbacks first.
  • Run a broken link report on your blog at least once a month or whenever you delete any old blog posts.
  • SEO will rank your blog and new blog posts lower if it contains out-of-date information.
  • If a post is still relevant, useful and contains evergreen content, update it. More so if it includes valid pingbacks to other live posts on your blog or to other blogs. 
  • If a post has out-of-date content or is poor quality (including images), but you feel it is still relevant, rewrite it and give it a new title.
  • Always delete older versions of rewritten posts before publishing the new post.

Thank you for your questions, Michelle. I hope I have answered them for you.


Photo of Michelle from Boomer Eco Crusader Blog

Michelle is a boomer with a youthful outlook seasoned with a dash of wisdom.

She lives in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada, with her husband and one of her two young adult daughters. 

Michelle works full-time in financial services and is passionate about learning new things.

When she’s not working, studying or blogging, you might find her on stage singing rock music or enjoying a walk in the great outdoors. 

Visit Michelle’s blog for tips on environmentally-friendly living, decluttering and living your best life. 

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Blog: Boomer Eco Crusader

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111 thoughts on “Are Your Old Blog Posts Damaging Your Blog? How To Stop It From Happening

    1. You’re welcome.

      Your comment was marked as spam by WordPress and went straight into my spam folder. Not sure why but you may want to check that any other comments you’re leaving on other blogs are not being marked as spam. If they are, you’ll need to contact WordPress about it so they can fix the issue.

  1. Such an informative post, Hugh. Thank you to Michelle for asking the great questions about older blog posts. There was a time last year when I had a good look at my old blog posts and rethought about he direction of my blog. I ended up minimally rewriting some older blog posts where I felt I had something new to add and felt my post could benefit from additional content in general. It was good to see my progress blogging, how some years ago I was in such a different headspace with blogging and a different writer.

    I also made posts private which I felt did not add overall value to my blog, or where I felt was completely irrelevant. As I was typing this I wondered, is there any differences or consequences between making a blog post private or deleting a post?

    Hope you are doing well this year, Hugh.

    1. Is there a consequence between making a blog post private or deleting a post? It’s a good question, Mabel. I’d only make a post private if I felt it was not relevant to readers anymore, but I could probably put a lot of work into making it a brand new post. The only problem would be when I would get around to rewriting it. It could remain private for a very long time.

      I now look at blog posts as clothes. If they haven’t been read or commented on for more than 12 months, then it’s time to give them a new life, even if that means deleting them and sending them into the void.

      You are correct in that looking back at older blog posts can show us just how far we’ve changed and travelled in our writing world. It’s why I have kept some older posts because I can go back and enjoy them again, even if nobody is reading them. But they do have to be very special for me to keep them.

      Thank you so much for your comments.

      1. Thanks for addressing my question with your thoughts, Hugh. Much appreciated. I have the same sentiments. I make my posts private if I felt if it wasn’t relevant anymore, but I still like the content which could be rewritten for another time down the track. I do wonder if there are any consequences with SEO by making a post private. I can’t think of any.

        That’s a great analogy, posts like clothes. Sometimes they fit our blog, and other times it’s time for them to move on.

  2. Hi Hugh,
    This is an important article all bloggers need. Congratulations! Your post won the Inspire Me Monday Linky Party. You will be featured on my site tomorrow.
    Janice

  3. Thanks Hugh and Michelle for this valuable info. The thought of going through a zillion blogs is daunting, but I’m going to have to – slowly. I noticed after I moved my self-hosted blog back to WP, when I was looking for a certain post through my search bar, the post came out differently (I think that was the block editor’s interpretation from my classic editor previous posts), The linked reblog title was no longer highlighted, it was no longer a link. Right then I knew there must be more like that but haven’t ventured there yet. So I’m appreciative for the help here – as usual. ❤

    1. It’s going to seem a very daunting task, Debby, and that’s why I recommend dealing with a few a day rather than overwhelming yourself in trying to get everything done in a day. After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day, was it?

      Start with looking at old posts, and delete the ones that are no longer relevant to you or your readers. Doing so will result in you getting rid of some broken links before they appear on your broken link report.

      Doing this task has given me an incredible feeling of achievement. It’s like getting rid of old, outdated, no longer used stuff from my life.

  4. Another question for you – this time about deleting broken links. When I run the broken link reports I often find the error is in a comment that someone has left, and they are no longer actively blogging so their profile url isn’t valid. Do you tend to delete those comments?

    1. Yes, if they’re no longer blogging, delete the comment that includes the broken link. It’s always much better to get rid of broken links so that your readers do not get a 404-page not found error notification.

  5. I have a question about the advice you give Hugh “Don’t forget to delete the older version before publishing your new post.” I wonder why you need to do a delete – I just update the existing post and republish with a current date.

    1. It’s really up to the individual and what post they’re looking at. A rewrite and republication is often the best way forward as it’s putting the information back out there and in front of all those who may have missed the older post. Consider how much your follower list has grown since the older post was first published. Check if the older version is still getting any new traffic or engagement. If it’s not, then a rewrite and republish is a sure way of the newer post getting more traffic and engagement. However, if you feel a simple update is all that is needed, then go with that.

      When you change the publication date of an existing post, a new URL is created, so any links to the original version become broken. This includes any reblogs of the post and any shares on social media platforms. I know of a couple of bloggers who change the scheduled date of published posts a few times a week. All this does, is put the post back at the top of the WordPress Reader. However, when we reschedule an existing post, WordPress does not send out email notifications to followers. For somebody like me, who doesn’t get around to reading some posts for a few weeks after the original publication, it means I get a 404-Page not found error when clicking on the link in the email. I stopped following those blogs because of all the 404-page not found errors I kept getting.

      1. Interesting to learn that a re-publish doesn’t reach people who subscribe by email rather than a feed reader.
        I have a lot of posts that don’t get any traffic – they are mostly things like memes and snapshots of what I’m reading in a particular month. So good candidates for a clear out.

  6. Hi Hugh, I can’t believe I’ve been in the blogging game for so long and never thought to see if there is a free tool online to check broken links!

    Have now run my first one and started with fixing 10 broken links – Thank you!

    1. You’re welcome, James. It sounds as if you’ve done this early enough not to end up getting a massive list of broken links. They can break for all sorts of reasons, the main one being because the page they link to has been moved or deleted. They also appear in the comments section of blog posts (as I’ve discovered).

      1. Thanks Hugh, quick question of advice please? I’m looking at one of my broken links and it’s from a link in someones profile (not in the comment itself). I’ve had a look to see if I could kill the link from the person’s profile, but WordPress only let’s you edit the comment rather than the profile.

        My only other option to remove the deadlink is delete the comment which I’m reluctant to do. Any thoughts?

        1. Hi James,

          I see that you have 3 choices here –

          1. Contact the person and advice them they have a broken link in their profile. Hopefully, they’ll fix it.
          2. Delete the comment so that the profile with the broken link is also deleted
          3. Leave it as it is.

          If you contact them, and next time you run a broken link report, the link is still broken, I’d then delete the comment (and profile).

          If it were me, and the person whose profile contains the error Is still active in the world of blogging, I’d go with number 1 first.

  7. I’m scared about what I’ll find once I start looking back at older posts but it has to be done! Thanks so much Hugh, I always learn something new from your posts 🙂

    1. Getting rid of all those outdated and no longer helpful posts made me feel like a million dollars, Debbie. It’s a big job, but I believe it will benefit all those who do it. I’ve already seen more traffic to my blog since beginning to fix all the broken links scattered all over my blog. Deleting old posts went a long way in helping get rid of broken links.

    1. It’s always good to hear a different perspective. My blog is changing daily. Every time I respond to a comment or publish a new blog post, it changes. Changes are good; otherwise, everything would become somewhat stagnant.

  8. I do run broken link checks regularly, although this is a timely reminder that it’s a while since I last did it! And I’ve updated some ‘old’ posts, mainly to make the layout clearer after switching themes. I only started blogging about 18 months ago so I don’t know if you would really consider those ‘old’ yet? I hadn’t considered that I might ever delete them, I have to say. My posts fall into two categories. The photo galleries on different themes certainly shouldn’t date, as long as the links (e.g. to blogging challenges) are checked from time to time and removed if no longer working. The travel posts are almost exclusively based on my own travel experiences and don’t usually contain hotel reviews etc. The content is mostly history, landscape, wildlife, culture and none of that should date. Do you still feel I should consider removing them after a certain point in time? I confess I’d be reluctant to do so!

    1. Good to hear you’re already running those broken links reports, Sarah.

      A 10-year-old post with evergreen information will never be too old to delete. It only becomes old if the information is no longer valid and is of no use to anyone reading it. So providing the information on your early posts is still valid; you should keep them on your blog, especially if they are still attracting traffic and engagement from readers. However, do consider updating any out-of-date information on them.

      You should only delete posts if you feel they are no longer relevant to you or your readers.

      I hope that helps, Sarah?

  9. You are quite the Welsh wizard! It never occurred to me to worry about broken links, my about me page was last updated when the word pandemic hadn’t been invented and the only posts I’ve deleted are short stories that now appear in anthologies. It looks like I have a bit of work…

    1. Once you get started, you’ll not want to stop getting rid of all the outdated information damaging your blog from being found, Geoff. After all, nobody likes visiting a site that has out-of-date information, do they?

      The broken links issue is more about readers clicking links that don’t work. Click too many, and they probably won’t return or recommend the site. After all, time is limited, isn’t it? So I’d recommend getting those broken links fixed, but start with deleting old out-of-date posts first, as that will reduce the number of broken links you’ll be made aware of.

      1. It’s a good reminder and there’s probably stuff there that could do with a refresh and repost too. I think if I set myself a clean up of say 20 a day and see how I get on. Hopefully not like when I go into the attic looking for something and I’m still there four hours later reading some old letters….

        1. Oh, yes, do it in small steps, rather than get yourself overwhelmed with trying to do it all in one go. I found much-outdated stuff (including Bloggers Bash stuff) on my blog that was no longer needed, including lots of pingbacks to competitions and ticket buying that were all broken. I’m still going through my list, but I’ll certainly run these reports at least once a month after I’ve finished to keep on top of it all.

  10. Good stuff, Hugh. To be honest, I’ve never thought about these questions. I’m coming up on my 3rd blogging anniversary soon, and I will give it some serious consideration.

  11. This is a great idea, Hugh, to check up on old posts. One thing I did as my media file kept growing, is I went back and deleted a BUNCH of old posts that had poor images and especially images that I “borrowed” from google before I knew what I was doing! That not only freed up media space but deleted really old content that was not relevant any longer. There were a few that I kept, refreshed, and updated images for, just like you did.

    In fact, my latest post about the 4 Resolutions for Forget, was a post from 2016 that I had deleted (but saved the Word doc). After conferring with Marsha at Always Write about fitness for her WQW feature, I remembered that post and recently rewrote it and re-titled it. It has been very successful in the last few days. If you think about how many new bloggers read our posts and how many drop out of the blogosphere after one short year, keeping posts up-to-date is such a great idea. Always a pleasure to read your how-to posts, Hugh!

    1. It sounds like this is a job you’ve already tackled, Terri. That’s great to hear.

      I remember reading your book and then spending a weekend deleting images from my blog and media library when you mentioned ‘copyright’ infringement in it. Freeing up space in our media libraries is undoubtedly a good thing, especially if you’re on a WordPress plan that gives you little media space.

      And it’s good too that you keep copies of posts outside of WordPress. I’ve had much success with rewriting, updating and republishing old posts because of all the reasons you mention in your comment. I see it as a win-win situation.

      1. This housecleaning of our blog sites is definitely something we all need to do if we’ve been blogging for at least a year. Speaking of updating, I need to do that with my book! You always give us great advice, Hugh!

  12. Interesting post, Hugh. I’ve been thinking about deleting some of my early posts. I do have a question, though. When we delete our old posts, I assume the images used in that post remain in our media file? If so, would it would be advised to delete the photos from there also (assuming they are no longer needed) in order to free up space?

    1. Thank you for your question, Janis.

      I think it depends on how much free space you have available in your WordPress media library. If you’re short of space, I’d recommend you also delete any images from old blog posts you’re deleting. If you have plenty of free space, then it may not matter as much, although doing some general blog housekeeping and deleting old photos and images no longer being used is never a bad thing.

      I hope that helps?

  13. Thanks very much for this post Hugh. It was really helpful in answering my questions. I see I have some work to do to clean up or refresh my old posts. I’ve already made a list of posts I want to delete. My biggest challenge is Pinterest because I know I created pins for these posts and it’s hard to find them.

    1. Thank you for your questions, Michelle. They’ve helped many people who have already read the post, and I’m sure they will help many other readers.

      I’m not familiar with the workings of Pinterest. Does it have a search bar where you can add the title of the post you’re deleting off your blog?

  14. Great information and I have long been worried about broken links. Thank you for sharing the link checker. It sounds quite straightforward. I think I found something called web crawler but it sounded a bit sinister!
    Does the date of a post have any relevance? If I update an informative post, I often add a line ‘updated with new information on ‘ although I have noticed that some readers fail to notice this! I am reluctant to delete some such posts because I have loads of links and pingbacks to them. Is there a way to re-publish the updated post?
    Also, I have ‘hidden’ quite a lot of posts – these are the ones that I have transcribed into my books. They are still live on the blog and people could find them, but there is no menu for them. Will this detract from SEO?
    I wonder about putting them back; I am not sure it would detract from book sales since some people prefer to read a long story in a book, rather than on a blog, and obviously, a lot of editing went into the books!
    I would also like to have a photo gallery with captions on the photos to go with each book, but am not sure how best to approach this on WordPress. Any advice would be most welcome!
    Sorry for giving you such a massive load of questions, but your advice is always so simple, easy to follow and helpful.

    1. There are many broken link checker tools available but beware of those that charge you for a job others do for free. The one I mentioned in this post is free to use and does a great job.

      When updating a post, I’d recommend that you add details about the update in the post’s title rather than in the body of the post. Readers are more likely to notice the details that the post has been updated when you state so in the title. For example, if I was to update this post in a year, the title would be ‘Are Your Blog Posts Damaging Your Blog? How To Stop It Happening (updated Janbuary 2023).’

      You could republish the post by rescheduling it, but when that happens, a new ULR is created for the post, so any previous reblogs and social media links will be lost. If the post is still attracting traffic and engagement, I wouldn’t recommend republishing it. However, if there is no new traffic or any engagement, consider rewriting the post and republishing it. Remember to delete the older version before publishing the new rewritten post.

      If people can still find your hidden posts, then SEOs will also find them. If those posts no longer serve a purpose, consider removing them from your blog.

      My post, ‘5 WordPress Photo Editing Tools Available To Use On The Block Editor, ‘ covers adding captions to photos. Here’s a link to the post.

      https://hughsviewsandnews.com/2021/05/27/5-wordpress-photo-editing-tools-available-to-use-on-the-block-editor/

      Let me know if you have any further questions about adding captions to photos or if this is not what you were referring to in your query.

      And thank you for your questions. I’m always happy to help, so ask away.

      1. Thank you so much for your wonderful, detailed and helpful answer!
        I have tried the broken link finder and it’s brilliant. Shockingly, I found a few broken links in one of my most successful posts, so it really paid off.
        I apologise for not framing my question about a photo gallery quite correctly. I understand that having too many photos on one page can slow down loading, so I was wondering how best to show a gallery on wordpress.
        Thank you again – you really are the best source of help on WordPress! 🙂

        1. Photos and images on blog posts can slow down the loading of any blog. However, I resize all photos and images on my posts before publication. I tend to resize them to no more than 900 x 675 pixels. This helps with not slowing the loading of my blog posts down. So I’d recommend that you resize all photos and images before adding them to your blog’s media library

          WordPress offers lots of different style photo galleries for displaying photos and images. From ‘stacked’ to ’tiled’, to ‘collage,’ it’s a personal choice as to which one to use for the post you’re drafting. You’ll find all the galleries under the Media section of the Blocks menu.

          I hope that helps, but feel free to ask more questions.

        2. Thank you Hugh, that is great advice. I had some inkling about resizing photos, but was never sure what was a suitable size, or whether I needed some special software like Lightroom to produce web ready photos. Paint will let me resize, so that is really easy!

          Do you know how many photos is acceptable in a gallery without slowing things down? There could be a lot of photos from a whole trip, so maybe I need to make galleries for each chapter.

          Thank you so very much for your kind and comprehensive answer. You really are a star! xx

        3. It will depend on which gallery you use. So long as they’re all resized to an acceptable size where the quality isn’t spoiled for the viewer, I think you’re fine.

          However, consider splitting them up into separate posts if you’ve over 30 to share because some readers may find that viewing any more photos could become somewhat overwhelming.

          Also, after posting your first post with lots of photos, check the download speed, and you can alter how many extra to add or leave off the next post. But also take into account that not everyone will have good internet speed, so posts will always download slower when the wifi speed isn’t good. Excuse the pun, but it’s more about the size than the quantity.

  15. Great post Hugh, very helpful information. I can completely relate to Michelle’s comment about rereading earlier posts and cringing!

    1. I hope it all helps, Judith. Don’t be put-off by the number of broken links it may throw up; tackle a few a day, and you’ll soon get it done. And if any old posts are no longer receiving any traffic or engagement, then it’s probably worth seriously thinking about deleting them, especially if the content in them is no longer valid.

  16. Extremely useful.

    I think deleting is something to be careful about especially with broken links, broken pingbacks, and social media shares. That is if the deleted post has been share then there will be a tonne of broken links not just on the blog, but on social media.

    How does seo know if you have rewritten something?

    I need to visit the broken links on my blog.

    Thanks for this useful share

    1. You’re welcome.

      True, if the post has been shared, its links will become broken on social media and other blogs (reblogs, etc.) if the post is deleted. But isn’t that better than clicking on a link that sends you to a site/page/post with outdated information? I know I wouldn’t be impressed with a site that included too many links that led to obsolete data.

      I’m not too concerned with social media, as it’s such a fast-paced area, and links get pushed down into the vaults very quickly (especially on Twitter, where the average life of a tweet is 20 minutes). My Twitter links to posts I wrote years ago and which I have since deleted will probably be extremely hard to find. And who has the time to dig into the archives of a Twitter account? I know I don’t.

  17. Thank you for sharing this very useful post and especially the broken link checker with us at #SeniorSalonPitStop. I did look for a reliable one and am so happy to see you listed one. I will for sure check it out and work through my broken links. I am in the process of working through my entire blog and updating posts and have deleted some already. Thanks for sharing Hugh

    1. Don’t get to disheartening by how many broken links your blog may have, Esmé. I had hundreds on mine and worked on repairing about 10-20 a day. Now, it’s a much easier job when I run a monthly report for broken links.

  18. Many of my broken links are on the replies on my About page, Hugh. Do you know if there’s a way of deleting the comments without trawling through the whole list of comments? Or would I be as well to deleting the page and re-do it?

    1. If you’re not worried about the ‘likes’ and comments on your About page, the quick fix is to rewrite and republish it, Cathy. Remember to delete your old ‘About’ page before publishing the new one. Otherwise, yes, it’s a case of going through all the comments and deleting the broken links (which a broken link report will highlight).

    2. Hi Cathy (and Hugh). I ended up preventing comments on my about me page after a huge spam attack. I’m talking 250 spam links a DAY. Once I did that it all stopped. I periodically update mine, especially once we moved out of California.

      1. That’s a great suggestion, Terri.

        I like having comments open on my ‘about me’ page, as I see it as a place where new readers can say ‘hello’ and introduce themselves (if they so wish). However, if my ‘about me’ page was getting attacked by too much spam, I’d rewrite it and publish it as a new page to change the URL. It would mean losing all the ‘likes’ and comments on the old page, but that wouldn’t bother me. At least it would stop the spambots.

  19. Useful suggestions. It’s probably time I worked my way through my old posts, but I didn’t realise there was such a thing as a broken link checker.Thanks for the info

    1. There are quite a few broken link checkers out there, Cathy, but beware the ones that charge you for something the ‘free’ ones do just as well. And don’t be too disheartened when you run your first report. Work through them when you can, although I would recommend you delete any out-of-date old blog posts first. That way, your broken link report won’t have as many broken links on it.

  20. Useful. I have mixed feelings about this, because I write about history, which means it’s never really less relevant and certainly not out of date, but I am definitely overdue to check for broken links and such.

    1. If the content isn’t outdated or no longer relevant, then no harm is being done to the SEO ranking of the post, Sarah.

      I’d certainly recommend you update/delete any pingbacks or links that are not working on those posts, though. More so because visitors to websites and blogs don’t like too many broken links. They may be put off from coming back if they find too many.

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