4 ways to bring new life to old WordPress blog posts

Paul Boag

If you want to create a content heavy, sticky website then a blog can feel like the wrong tool. Overtime some of your best content can get buried. Fortunately there are 4 ways you can breath new life into these old posts.

Who came up with the format for blogging? Whoever it was, they are an idiot! To be fair, they probably never envisioned blogs being used in the way they are today, but that is not the point :-)

The problem with blogs is that they are time based. You write a post, it appears on the homepage and then overtime it is replaced by more recent posts and is sentenced to the black hole of your archive.

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Admittedly somebody might stumble across the post via a search engine. However, generally speaking it has vanished.

This is a shame for a couple of reasons. First, it maybe a great post. The world should know if it is. Second, it means users only ever see one or two pages of your blog and are gone. Not what you would call a sticky site!

Google Analytics bounce rate graph for Boagworld - April 2009 - 74% bounce rate.

If like me you run a blog, the chances are you have an unacceptably high bounce rate.

What then can be done? Well, I have implemented four strategies that appear to be working.

1. Theme Posts

The first approach I had some success with, are theme posts. It is an idea I pinched from ProBlogger. They describe theme posts as:

Posts or pages on your blog or site that revolve around a single theme.

Essentially, you pick a subject you have written about on a number of occasions. You then create a single article that highlights the various archived posts on the subject.

For example, not long ago I produced a theme post on web copy.

An example theme post from boagworld

This essentially draws the users attention to archived content that would not otherwise be viewed.

The second approach I use to reduce my bounce rate, is showing related content at the end of each new post.

Again this highlights content in my archive, but also provides the user with a next step once they have finished reading. This is the moment when they are most likely to leave, so anything you can do to keep their interest is worth trying.

Example of related posts

If you are a WordPress blogger then related posts could not be easier to setup. There is an excellent plugin called Similar Posts that will have you up and running in minutes.

Similar posts admin screen

3. Embedded tags

The problem with related posts is that users do not always spot them. Research shows that if you want users to see a link it is best embedded within the content itself, not in a sidebar. One way of doing this is through inline tags.

Blogs have supported tagging for a long time now but they have traditionally been displayed either as a list or a cloud, separate to the main content of the post.

Inline tagging turns occurrences of a tag word into an active link that takes the user to a list of other posts tagged with that word. This is especially sticky, but also has SEO benefits.

An example inline tag

Of course there are two problems with this approach. First, it requires you to have tagged all of your posts. Second, you need a way to turn these tags into links.

Once again a WordPress plugin comes to the rescue. This time it is a plugin called Simple Tags. This incredibly powerful plugin allows you to do pretty much anything with tags. Among its many features it will turn a tag into a link. However, more impressively it will automatically suggest tags for every post in your entire blog.

However, one tip before you try this. Tag as many of your posts manually as possible in order to give the plugin some tags to work with.

Then in settings make sure the Tags Database checkbox is selected. This means the plugin will use your own tags as a starting point, and significantly improve the quality of the tags it creates.

Simple Tag Settings

Simple Tags offers a whole range of additional features including:

  • Tag management
  • Mass editing of tags
  • Better tag clouds
  • Tags for current post
  • and more!

4. Redesign your homepage

My final piece of advice for making your blog stickier is to redesign your homepage.

Traditionally blogs show an arbitrary number of the most recent posts on the homepage. However, this does little to expose content in your archive. Once a post falls off the homepage it is gone for good.

Your homepage should highlight a variety of posts. The Boagworld homepage displays teasers for the 4 latest posts as well as a number of my latest podcasts and 5 of my most popular posts.

The latter is achieved using another WordPress plugin. This one is imaginatively titled Popular Posts.

Configuration screen for popular posts

As with Similar Posts it comes with a host of configuration options including how many posts to display and a number of filtering tools.

Any other suggestions?

Without a doubt these four suggestions have made a significant impact on my bounce rate and page views per user. However, there is always more that can be done. Add your suggestions to the comments below…