Joining a Niche Conversation, Part 3: Don’t Be Afraid to Edit Archived Blog Posts

A few days ago, I posed the question Are Bloggers and Blogs Ruining the English Language? In hindsight, only an hour after posting, I realized that I missed an opportunity and made a mistake with that article. It should have been formatted/ massaged into being part of my current series, Joining a Niche Conversation. The question is, should I have edited it and changed the title after I had already posted it live?

The article generated a fair bit of response, but it might have provided more value to the series than on its own. For example, had it been titled “Joining a Niche Conversation, Part 3: Avoiding Communication Breakdown,” it might have contributed to the series’ synergy. In the latter form, it would have to be tighter and maybe contain a summary and a bullet list.

It was an oversight on my part. I’d already produced a loose outline for the series, but had not included rules of grammar as a topic. Of course, that doesn’t mean I can’t go back and edit the article. This question has come up amongst members of The Hive, Performancing’s new authority forum: should you edit archived blog articles?

Here are a few considerations:

  1. Website content gets edited. Why not blog content?
  2. What impact will changing blog content have?
  3. Is it worth the effort of editing archived posts? What value
  4. Is it okay to change the title?
  5. Should you change the URL?

You’ll have to answer #3 yourself, but I see no reason not to edit archived content to improve it. Improving your blog content can only be good, right? Likewise, there’s very little negative effect in improving a title. Still, you need to consider this:

  1. Does your blog platform auto-generate URLs using the post title?
  2. If you change the title, what happens? Will the platform change the URL? If so, will the old page cease to exist? If not, can you easily delete it? If not, do you have a means of redirecting the old URL to the new URL? (Assuming you don’t know how to write .htaccess rules.)

So the only problem I see with editing archived content is whether or not a new URL is generated. If you’re using something like WordPress, it’s not an issue. If you’re using, say, Drupal (which Performancing is on), then it is, but you can manually resolve the URL issue – though only if you have administrative privileges.

Ultimately, I did not edit my article because of time constraints. And now that Part 3 is the article you’re reading, it’d get too complicated. Providing you’re not inserting/ deleting articles from a series, editing your archived content is something to consider for those days when you can’t come up with fresh content.

Have you ever edited your archived content? If so, did you find it was worthwhile?

10 thoughts on “Joining a Niche Conversation, Part 3: Don’t Be Afraid to Edit Archived Blog Posts

  1. Despite Google’s “reaction” to updating, that’s not going to stop me from improving my content. Google isn’t the be all and the end all, and there’s nothing essentially wrong with editing archived content.

    But a good alternative is to post a new article altogether and point to the archived content that inspired it.

  2. I will never edit existing content for the purpose of changing any facts or opinions contained within the article. However, If I made a mistake that someone brought up to me that requires correction(s), I would strikeout the text.

    Editing existing content for reasons such as grammar is completely fine in my opinion.

    Adding to existing content is fine to me as long as it is added at the top or bottom of the article in question.

    I tend to do this with articles that still generate traffic. For example, on my Tech In Demand blog I receive a tremendous amount of traffic regarding Demonoid being shut down. It probably draws in 20 – 30 views on a daily basis alone from Google search. That is content that should probably be updated.

    I also add a link to my RSS feed at the very end of articles that are popular. Every little bit counts.

    Those are my views on editing content.

  3. Raj, yes. Google is clearly in the business of casting a wide net to dampen the efforts of spammers and schemers. They often catch innocent people in the process who are simply trying to improve the web.

  4. So you’re saying that Google penalizes you temporarily if you have the audacity to improve your content? I hope you’re wrong but it wouldn’t surprise me.

  5. Okay, but I would think that other factors would reduce any negatives. For example, if you have a high “trustrank”, general authority status, and maturity of domain name. I guess basically if you have a new site, you’re mostly screwed unless you start gaining lots of authority backlinks.

  6. I’ve seen evidence that Google puts in temporary negative buffers when you change a page that hasn’t been changed in a really long time. Especially in regards to new links added.

  7. Yes, that’s a good point. Letting reader’s know there was a change is important.

    One area I did not touch upon is whether to change the post date. If there’s very little change, I put “[UPDATED: Jan 28/08]” in bold – or whatever the date – and do NOT change the post date. If there’s a lot of change, a more comprehensive note helps, and I do change the post date. The note will help them realize they’re reading a revision (in case they’ve read the piece before).

  8. I think editing is fine. If it’s a substantial change, I also add a note in italics in the post telling my readers what I did to edit the post.

  9. What I failed to point out above is that if you have two URLs for pages that are almost the same in account, there could be “duplicate content” problems in some search engines as a result. The earlier version might rank above the edited version, which is not what you want. It’s also not good to have such a loose end.

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