Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Blog Post Updates - Effective Pattern?

As part of the Tools Set 2009 series, my first post was Browser Keyboard Shortcut Basics. I was a little surprised that this didn't come up as one of the more popular items recently when I did my Top 20 Posts for Q1 2009.

Now I've got a couple of additional things to add to this information, and it raises a question that I often face:

What do you do when you have an update to a prior post?

I feel like each of my options have drawbacks:

1. Update the original post and create a new post with a link back

Originally, I was going to do this. Just go back and update the original post with the additional information and create a post to say to go look at that for the information.

The advantage of this is that the original post becomes an increasingly rich source of content on the topic. If you want information on that there's only one place to go.

The disadvantage is that people who subscribe to my blog will not see the information in their RSS feed or in the daily email. They have to click. And my belief is that they will not click unless the information is really valuable. Thus, it somewhat gets lost.

The other disadvantage that is completely self-serving is that each post I create has a chance to serve as bait for organic search traffic in the future. I'm pretty sure, but not 100% sure, that long term traffic would be higher by having two posts with different titles than a single post with more links to it – but it only has one title. There are a lot of variables, but since the title and URL are so important for Long Tail Search Engine Optimization, I think having more titles is generally better.

2. Update the original post and create a new post with the additional content and a link back

This is a variation of the above. I would do the same thing, but would also include the new information in the new post as well as in the original post.

The advantage of this approach is that subscribers will get the new content in their feed or email.

The disadvantage is that if I later need to update the topic, then I probably should update both posts – the original and the update post. Otherwise, update posts will be wrong.

Likely, the update post will not be as good for SEO since links will probably go back to the original. However, this is probably in the middle.

3. Put the new information in the update post and add a link to the original post

In this case, I only put the new information in the update post and I edit the original post with a link to the new post.

The advantages here are that subscribers get the new content in their feed or email and that I only have one copy of the new information running around.

The disadvantage is that content on a topic will be scattered around on my blog. If you want to find browser keyboard tricks, you likely will have to visit several posts. My gut tells me that this is not nearly as satisfying for search visitors. It also means that there's additional work to keep track of all the different posts on a topic.

What do you think? Is there another Effective Pattern? Which option would you say is best for me (not too much work) and my subscribers and my search visitors?

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