Why I Don’t Update Old Blog Posts with a New Theme

Update Old Blog Posts

For those who actually read this blog in a browser (rather than in a feed reader), you know that I’ve been using a new theme for the past few weeks.

Whenever you – or someone else – changes themes, it raises the question as to if you should go back over your old content and update your old blog posts so that they look well-formatted within the context of the new presentation.

If your blog is in its infancy and/or only has a few dozen posts, I think that makes sense, but if you’ve been writing for a while and have, say, several hundred posts or several years worth of posts, I don’t think it’s worth it.

Update Old Blog Posts?

Generally speaking, the process by which someone would go through to update their old blog posts would be so tedious and time-consuming with little pay off that I can’t think of a good reason to actually do so.

Of course, if you’re in a more corporate environment where managing the property is part of your job, that’s a different story. But like I mentioned, there’s a direct pay off for that.

But if it’s your personal blog, your professional blog, or even a hybrid of the two, then I still don’t think it’s really worth it.

1. The Times, They Are A-Changin’

The web is constantly evolving and it’s foolish to think that what looks good today or tomorrow is going to look good in two years from now.

We have no idea to know what trends and/or standards will be adopted, or how our publishing platforms will change.

To that end, it’s hard to future-proof the presentation of your content. Focus on works well right now.

2. The Past is Your Past

Leaving past articles – although likely indexed by the major search engines – as they were isn’t necessarily a bad thing, especially if you view your blog as a journal of sorts from where you were to where you are (and ultimately where you’re going).

If you’re working in a field where information may need to be updated, then I think you have a case for updating the content of a post, or at least adding a disclaimer that the post may be out of date.

Worrying about how the content looks within the presentation of your site? That’s less important to me.

Remember, what makes a blog a blog is the content fire and foremost – not the way it looks – so as long as you’ve got the content covered, its presentation is second.

3. Heads Up!

Most people who use the Internet are well-aware of how quickly things change (especially those who use Facebook and their ever-changing design, right?). On top of that, our posts have dates.

As such, it’s not hard to guess that a post may have been written when a different theme, style, or presentation layer was being used.

Going one step further, it all boils down to software in the end – it’s not terribly difficult to update (either on your own or with someone’s help) posts older than a certain date to give a heads up that the way something looks may not look as it once did because, y’know, the web has changed.

And that’s where I generally stand on this whole idea and why I don’t update old blog posts (of course, there are exceptions – there are always exceptions) beyond adding a disclaimer or updating the content of the post.

9 Replies to “Why I Don’t Update Old Blog Posts with a New Theme”

  1. I would recommend updating posts that get regular traffic. For instance, I have pages that get 500-1000 views per month that are a few years old. These posts are worth the time to go back and make sure they look good, so I don’t look bad to 1000’s of new site visitors.

    1. I would recommend updating posts that get regular traffic.

      Yes – absolutely agree. I do the same for certain posts that are, say, related to code or have some core idea that I want updated, but I don’t bother, say, re-working the styling or the presentation.

      Content, sure. Style? It depends on how bad it looks :).

  2. Tom,
    I agree with you completely on this one. I’ve been using WordPress for over ten years and personally, the biggest problem I’ve faced when updating across the various versions of WordPress has been the use of Featured Images. Older blog posts don’t have featured images and even if you do run one of the “rebuild thumbnails” programs you might not get the best result. The consequence also is that with the newer themes which tend of focus on images, older posts just won’t display with that level of brilliance!

    That being said, I believe it is really pointless to go back and update all the old posts mainly because it just isn’t worth the time. Search engines tend of favour newer rather than older content and most likely so do users. I have updated some posts with timeless content like jokes or funny stuff (which are some of the popular ones even today) for images and/or formatting, but then it’s a personal preference.

    1. …personally, the biggest problem I’ve faced when updating across the various versions of WordPress has been the use of Featured Images.

      Yep – one of the biggest challenges that’s occurred since I’ve moved to Mayer from Standard as my theme is that I did away from featured images. I have reasons for this that I’ll cover in a future post, perhaps, but I basically killed ’em with the new theme.

      Of course, that’s not as frustrating for some who have the ability to add them now have hundreds of posts without them, but is it really worth the time and effort to backfill that stuff?

      Only the author really knows, but I’m of the mind that there’s only certain situations.

      Like you said:

      it’s a personal preference.

      :)

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