How to Revive an Old Blog

KristinaW

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I have a blog that's been alive since around 2005. It's got about 2,500 posts in it and it's been dying a slow death for years. I don't know what's wrong. In the beginning, the blog was ranking very well for all sorts of keywords. I was getting about 1,000 unique visitors per day. Today? I get about 80 visitors a day. I've tried adding more content, rearranging the categories, adding tags - all to no avail. I don't know what's wrong with the website. How can my site rank well at one point and then stop ranking well now? How is that possible? I have a feeling it's my fault and that I'm doing something wrong. I'm missing something and I need help. Does anyone have any suggestions for me?
 

JGaulard

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Did you know that operating a "failing (or declining in traffic) blog" is one of the most common reasons for quitting blogging overall? That and lack of success. They're two different things. A failing blog is one that was once successful, but is now, as you said, dying a slow death. Lack of success is when a blog was never successful in the first place. It's a shame that people quit blogging so easily because in both of the cases I described above, the problems can be corrected. And corrected quite easily. Before I begin, I'll give you a quick tip: adding more content isn't the cure. It's actually making things worse.

I also operate a blog: https://www.jaygaulard.com/

I've been writing on it since 2004 and like yours, it used to get tons of traffic. Up until a short while ago, I thought that times had simply changed and that was why the site's traffic had slipped. Today, the search engine traffic coming from Google is probably around 10% of what it once was. Since I've been busy working on so many other things, I just let it slide. I hadn't touched it until recently.

A few months ago, I decided to tackle the declining search engine traffic problem. To do this, I needed to look at three things:

1. Quality of posts.
2. Keywords in posts and post titles.
3. Internal linking.

Before I began any work, I checked out how many posts I had on the blog overall. I found that the blog consisted of approximately 1,800 posts in 10 categories. Some categories consisted of 5-10 posts, while other categories had hundreds of posts. One home improvement category contained 65 pages of posts! That's over 650 posts! Now, ask yourself this question: how is any pagerank supposed to flow to page 65 in a pagination sequence? It's not and that was one of the biggest problems facing me. Also, as I browsed through some of my older posts from years ago, I found that they were utter junk. Filler, if you will. They had titles like:

A Walk in the Woods
Another Walk in the Woods
Winter Walk
Walk to the Mailbox
Sitting Here Thinking
Driving Up the Road


Titles like that will never be found by way of a search engine. There are no keywords in those titles. The posts may be completely fine, but since the titles were useless, the entire post is useless.

Just a few days ago, I began cleaning house in earnest. Any posts that had nothing to do with anything were deleted. Just by doing that, I reduced the number of posts on the site by about 1,000. As I sit here and type, I have only about 600 +/- left. The reason there were so many of these types of posts was because, when I was writing them, I was writing under the assumption that my posts would always rank well. I mean, they had in the past. Why wouldn't they in the future? I could basically write anything in the past and it would rank. Also, I was primarily writing for my dedicated audience that would either receive the posts via email or would check the site every few days for new content. I wasn't exactly thinking about new search engine traffic all the time. So there was that: a lack of quality.

For the remaining posts, I'll be updating many of their titles. Instead of something like:

Finished the Bathroom

I'll title the post:

How to Modernize a Small Bathroom

Instead of:

Sitting Here Thinking

I'll title the post:

Why Do People Sit and Think So Much?

Google doesn't like statements. It likes questions. People do too. That's evidenced by the majority of search engine searches consisting of questions. Why am I fat? How do I get rid of this pain in my arm? How can I make my car faster? These are all things people search for. They don't search for things like: Sitting here thinking.

Okay, this is a biggie. Even if I had 1,800 wonderfully written posts with stellar search engine optimized titles, I bet my blog still wouldn't rank well in Google. Why? Because there are too many posts. Not too many posts in general, but too many posts for the way I had them linked together, which wasn't at all. When a great post is located 65 clicks from the homepage, it's lost in the abyss. It doesn't matter how good it is. No one is going to find it. Yes, they may have found it back in 2004 when it was close to the homepage (or even linked to directly from the homepage), but as the years pass and as the post sinks deeper and deeper into the quicksand of the website, it stops ranking and gets lost forever. This is what I suspect has happened to the great majority of my posts. Well, that and the majority of them were simply terrible.

Have you ever heard of the importance of internal linking? When it comes to WordPress, it's all the rage. There are widely available plugins that will help with this task. I do have a related posts plugin installed, but those links located at the bottom of all the posts may be targeting just a few pages on the site. What about all the others? Also, those related posts links link to other pages using the title text. The link text isn't varied at all and it isn't contextual, meaning, it's not located withing the paragraphs of the posts themselves. That's important. The goal here is to add links that are about installing support beams in a garage right in the paragraph content itself. Do you see what I did there? That's exactly what I'm talking about. If each and every post I have ever written had multiple links out to other posts as well as multiple links in, I think the blog would be in good shape. I'm actually going to be looking at a plugin called Internal Link Juicer this afternoon. I may install it on my site. It helps automate the process of adding internal links to a blog.

So here's my advice to you: Go through your website with a fine toothed comb and delete any posts that aren't worth it. Posts that you wouldn't feel comfortable emailing to a friend to have them read. Then, once you're down to a manageable number, begin updating your titles so they're search engine friendly. When all that's done, link your pages together like a madman. You should have new posts linking to old ones and vice-versa. After a few months, I think you'll find your traffic increase once again. But just be sure to avoid writing useless posts in the future. No more:

Website Upgrade - Check it Out!

None of that. No one cares and those types of things will get you in trouble with Google.
 

JGaulard

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Another thing I'm doing is consolidating a lot of very similar posts. I seem to have gotten carried away with myself when I wrote the two dozen "It's Snowing Outside" articles. I mean, it's crazy. I also have many posts about installing windows as well as posts about gardening. Last night, I began merging many of these together. I chose what I thought was the most popular one, changed the title and the URL (WordPress will automatically 301 redirect the original URL to the new one), and then began adding the content of the similar posts to that chosen one. The process is very simple. To do it, I copied and pasted the content of each post to the new one and then attached any images to the new post as well. That's an important step, or else they may get deleted from the system.

There are good reasons for consolidating posts. As I mentioned above, old ones get sucked into the abyss, never to be seen again. They're on page 34 of the paginated sequence and they receive little to no pagerank. Basically, posts that are old and that haven't accumulated links through the years will drag the entire website down. It's better to merge their content with more popular posts, making the consolidated one a super post.

Once I merge the posts together, I'll need to go through each one with a fine toothed comb to edit any internal links that may have been cut off. So yes, if you've got an old blog with tons of posts, you'll definitely need to prune and merge. That's just the way it is.
 
How to Revive an Old Blog was posted on 06-26-2021 by KristinaW in the Tech Forum forum.
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