In episode 259, we chat with Kathy, blogger at Beyond The Chicken Coop, about the power of taking your current content and updating it, so that each piece brings as much value to your audience as possible.
We cover information about how to create a spreadsheet inclusive of all your content, what pieces of information to track, how to systematically comb through each piece and how you can use batching to streamline the process even more.
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Bio Kathy has been blogging at Beyond the Chicken Coop since January 2015. Until this June, Kathy was a full time elementary school principal. She was able to take an early retirement this year and become a full time blogger. Kathy and her husband live on a small country farm and the blog features a lot of what they do. Kathy and her husband have three grown children.
- Try to work smarter, not harder and find content you have already that is getting traffic and can be improved to rank better.
- Create a spreadsheet of all your content, color code it for easy viewing and include information like when it was published, when you update photos and keywords, etc.
- 3 questions to ask yourself: Is it content you want to keep? If it’s not, then you’ll want to delete it off. If it’s something you want to keep, is it worth updating and making it richer or do you want to no-index it?
- You can download a duplicate posts plugin so you can create revisions on a post and then take your time to update each post completely when it’s ready.
- Update FAQ’s, photos, recipe tips. Add ingredient shots, process shots and remove excessive finished shots.
- Interlinking your content is one of the most valuable things you can do as you build your content. it is probably one of the strongest things that we can do, especially for a new post.
- Pictures must be 1200 pixels wide and have updated alt text for each one.
- Look at each post from the perspective of a novice and make sure it’s clear how to create the recipe and answer any questions they might think of.
- Once an overhaul of a post has been done, rather than wait for Google to crawl it, you can request a re-indexing of it immediately.
- You may have to wait 3-6 months to see any traffic changes or you may be surprised earlier.
- Bloggers should learn to be flexible as you dig into updating old content. Some days shooting photos might be successful and others, you’re stuck on the computer all day. Just keep plugging away.
- Google recognizes no-index pages, they still have to crawl those pages. So no-indexing a post doesn’t mean it’s out of sight, out of mind for Google. They do still crawl it, but then they’re like, okay, wait, we can ignore this.
Export All URLs Plugin
Duplicate Posts Plugin
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259 Kathy Berget
Kathy Berget: Hi, this is Kathy Berget from Beyond The Chicken Coop and you are listening to the Eat Blog Talk podcast.
Megan Porta: Hey, food bloggers. Welcome to Eat Blog Talk. I am your host, Megan Porta, and you are listening to episode 259 with Kathy from Beyond The Chicken Coop. We are going to have a fun chat about updating old content.
Kathy has been blogging at Beyond The Chicken Coop since January, 2015. Until this June, Kathy was a full-time elementary school principal. She was able to take an early retirement this year and become a full-time food blogger. That’s so exciting. Kathy and her husband live on a small country farm and the blog features a lot of what they do. Kathy and her husband have three grown children.
This is such a relevant topic to discuss right now, I feel like Kathy. I’m super excited to hear more about your story and your take on this. But first we all want to hear your fun fact.
Kathy Berget: Right. Hi, Megan. Thanks so much. So my fun fact is we do live on a small country farm and raise our own farm animals. One year we decided to raise turkeys. The advice we were getting from everybody was to make certain that the turkeys are really full grown, because they’ll look really big, but they’re really just a lot of feathers. When you go to butcher them, there’ll be really nothing there and they’ll be the size of a chicken. I took that to heart and wouldn’t let my husband get near him for quite a while. I finally gave him the go ahead. Once all was said and done, he brought the Turkey in, we didn’t have a problem with our Turkey’s being too small. When everything was done, the feathers were removed and it was ready to go. Our Turkey weighed 43 pounds. It was massive.
Megan Porta: That has to be some sort of Turkey record. That’s crazy.
Kathy Berget: It was a challenge to try to cook that Turkey up to, but we did. It was good.
Megan Porta: That is hilarious. I hope you have pictures of that turkey.
Kathy Berget: I do, but it was probably about three months before it was all said and done. It does look big, but we didn’t get any pictures actually once it was in the oven or anything like that.
Megan Porta: Oh my gosh. I’m just picturing this absolutely gigantic Turkey sitting on a table, ready to be eaten, right? Oh, I think food bloggers will definitely appreciate that fun fact. That was great. Okay. Let’s talk about updating old content. I love your story about, first of all, how you were able to leave your job as a school principal to become a full-time food blogger. So congratulations on that. That was very recent, right?
Kathy Berget: Yes. Thank you. Yeah, that was the end of last school year in June. So still trying to adjust to being a full-time blogger, but definitely loving it.
Megan Porta: How long were you a principal?
Kathy Berget: About 13 years and 27 years altogether as a teacher and a principal.
Megan Porta: Oh, wow. I can imagine that during the pandemic times that being a principal maybe was a little bit more challenging.
Kathy Berget: Definitely. You didn’t have any history of what to go on. So you’re just trying to work things and do the best we could. We were fortunate last year, though, we were able to meet in person. It just looked very different than it had in years past.
Megan Porta: Oh I respect you for that work because my goodness, I don’t know. Every time I go into my boys’ schools, I’m always just, thank you, teachers and principals, for all that you do. You guys are amazing.
Kathy Berget: Thank you. It’s great work.
Megan Porta: Yes, it is great work. It’s heart work, right? You have to really do it with your heart. But we’re happy to have you now in the food blogger realms. Happy to have you here doing that. I want to hear your story about updating. So why did you decide you were going to start updating your content? Can you talk through that?
Kathy Berget: Yeah, absolutely. So when I first started my food blog, it was a total hobby and I really knew nothing about blogging or writing posts. So much has changed over that time and evolved, I think not only just with my knowledge, but what our readers are looking for and wanting, and then along with that, what Google, they adapt to what our readers and users are doing. So the algorithms have really changed. So I have about 500 blog posts on my blog. When I look at my traffic has increased year over year, but when I really dive in and look at the analytics, most of that traffic is just coming from a handful of posts. When I look at it further, there are several posts on there, especially looking at organic traffic which would be primarily from Google, there are posts that get in the last three to six months that don’t get any traffic from Google at all. A lot of them, the keywords don’t have rank on there when you look at the Google analytics or in the search console. So really looking at what I can do to work smarter, not always harder. I have such great content. How can I put that better to use? Within Google, if you have things that really aren’t getting traffic, it can really weigh your site down overall. So really wanting to update that, to see, can I create things that use these existing posts to make them better and work better for me?.
Megan Porta: That is so true. That’s a lesson I learned the hard way, that that content that was just sitting out there and not getting any traction at all was actually like a giant brick tied to my ankle. My blog’s weighing it down. I never saw it that way because when I started blogging, it was like, put as much content out as you want. It doesn’t really matter what the quality is. The more, the better. That was my mindset for so long. So once I realized like you did, that, oh, there’s all of this stuff that’s not doing anything, then I too realized that I needed to start going through. So where did you start?
Kathy Berget: I had an audit last February with Casey Markee from Media wise and he really opened my eyes to looking at that content overall. So I started with looking in Google search console and looked at pages that had absolutely no Google traffic in the last three to six months. Really once you look at that you have three choices. Is it content you want to keep? If it’s not, then you’ll want to delete it off. If it’s something you want to keep, is it worth updating and making it richer or do you want to no-index it? For me right now, I’m really looking at updating my content because I don’t think it’s an option for me to delete my content off. I don’t feel like that’s in my best interest and I’m not ready to no-index at this point in time. But I’m not just looking at those posts that have no traffic. I’m also looking at the posts that are in the middle that are getting some traffic. How can I improve those? Then even the ones that are maybe at the bottom of page one, top of page two. How can I improve those? Because we know that most organic traffic is really going to come from those top three posts. So is there something I can do to those posts to help make it richer so that they’re ranking higher on each page?
Megan Porta: So with 500 blog posts, you’ve got to come up with a schedule, right? You can’t just dig into it all, although I’m sure you wish you could wave your magic wand and fix everything. So how do you go about doing this?
Kathy Berget: I think getting started is the hardest part. The first thing I did was I created a spreadsheet with all of my blog posts and I did use a a quick plugin that was called Export All URLs. You literally add that plugin. You can download all your content to a spreadsheet. Then you quickly delete that plugin, it’s done. Once I had that spreadsheet, I created myself several columns of things that I thought were going to be important. I’m continually adding to that. It could include the date that the post was published. When did I update the post? Have I created new images there? I just created this spreadsheet and then I just started diving into posts. For me I do have a list of ones that I want to work on, but sometimes it’s also, which ones the opportunity is best for. So this past weekend I was making brunch for my family and it was going to make biscuits and gravy. Both of those, I had buttermilk biscuits and then biscuits and gravy recipe with the sausage gravy, both needed to be updated. Since I had that opportunity to do that, I just did both. Made sure I captured pictures, fed my family and then was able to get back on the computer and update those posts. So I have a list of things that need to be updated. Ones I want to update and then sometimes it’s just what is the best opportunity right now to get something that’s done.
Megan Porta: If you can kill two birds with one stone even better, right? Oh, I’ve got to feed my family anyway. So let’s make this. The spreadsheet I feel is absolute key and gold. If you do have a lot of content like you, Kathy and me, you absolutely need some way to track it. I cannot imagine going through my content without a spreadsheet.
Kathy Berget: That’s relatively new for me. I used to think, oh, I’ll remember when I did what. You can remember part of it. A lot of it is documented within the blog post, but it’s so easy to lose track. My spreadsheet, once I feel like I have optimized a post to the best it can, I highlight each row in a green, which means yay. Good to go. You’re on the right track and it’s a great visual to look at too, of where am I at.
Megan Porta: Yes. Oh, I love color coding. I rely on that so much too. Green is yay. I have a droopy little red color and have grays in there too.
Kathy Berget: That’s a great idea.
Megan Porta: Okay. So talk about what you do on each post as you comb through it. I’m sure they’re all at maybe various stages, but let’s say you have a post that just needs a complete overhaul. What do you do?
Kathy Berget: The first thing I do is I do use a plugin called Duplicate Posts and I create a duplicate post of it. So I can work within that blog post without actually affecting it in its live state. I like to do that because I can’t always get a whole post done in one day and yet I want to be able to save it. So I’ll go in and create that duplicate. Usually the first thing that needs to happen is I have to change it from classic mode to block mode. Then I look at everything that’s there. Have I updated all of the shots? My original posts mostly just had finished shots of a recipe. So now I’m making sure I have ingredient shots, process shots, and step-by-step photos. I’m adding in recipe tips and frequently asked questions. I’m removing a lot of the multiple shots that I had. Some of my blog posts I’d have six finished images of my finished dish. I don’t think I need that many in there anymore. So as much as I love some of those images, they’re just not necessary.
Megan Porta: A little overkill. I think we have all done that. So it’s not just you.
Kathy Berget: I’m making sure that the images are updated to at least 1200 pixels wide and that’s really best practices right now, especially to be in Google Discover. I’m removing some of the information that’s really non recipe related. It seems like when I first started, there was the style of writing, then there was a lot of journaling about what was happening in my life. What happened on the weekend and some of it had nothing pertaining to a recipe I was making. So if I’m finding it really irrelevant, I’m removing a lot of that content. I still sometimes want to have that personal touch there, but I have to ask myself, is it necessary? Does it add to this blog post. As I’m updating photos, I’m looking at those alt tags, making sure that it really hits that I’m describing the image, that I’m using the accessibility standards that are out there and then looking at the overall flow. How does it all flow? Does it make sense? Trying to look at it as if somebody is a novice cook. This makes sense for them. So trying to just add as much information I can for all different types of users.
Megan Porta: I think that is such a key point to make and something that we overlook. Just giving the post a new perspective or looking at the post from a new perspective, because we’re in our content all the time. We’re the ones creating it and we can get lost. Of course this is great. I created it. But to take a little bit of a step back and just look at it like someone fresh is seeing this. What is missing and what could I add to add value. Every single time I do that, I find something.
Kathy Berget: I agree. I agree. What other piece that I look at us, I want to make sure that blog post has internal linking to other blog posts that are relevant and that I’ve also linked to that post. Within your dashboard in WordPress, if you use the Yoast SEO plug-in, it’ll tell you how many times you’ve linked in or linked out to that. It’s really important that we are using internal links to pull everything together.
Megan Porta: I would always forget once I posted a new post too, because we always take new posts and we put existing links in there. But we also need to remember to put the new posts in other posts, if that makes sense. Like linking to it from other places on our blogs.
Kathy Berget: Right after we publish a post, that should be one of the first things we do. Sometimes it’s challenging. Where does this naturally fit? But it is probably one of the strongest things that we can do, especially for a new post.
Megan Porta: So talk about your system, because this can be really overwhelming. So I am a huge believer in systems and processes because that makes things so much more efficient. What is your system once you dig into a handful of recipes to redo?
Kathy Berget: Once I decide which ones I’m going to make, I recreate that recipe, shoot all the photos that I need to make, and upload them back to my computer. I go through and work on those images, make sure that they look the best they can. Then I start to edit those blog posts. Sometimes this can take a matter of days, sometimes it can take a couple of weeks. So just keeping track of which ones I’m working on and then updating them as I go. Then once I’m done, I go into that spreadsheet and I update that so I know where it is. If I’ve done a major overhaul, I go into Google search console and I request a re-indexing of that post. It will happen on its own because Google is constantly going in and re- indexing, but I want it to happen right away. Then I track that system. We need to remember that just because we’ve made these updates, it could still take three to six months before we see any traction on that, but I want to watch and see what is happening. One thing I do see often right away is I will start to see some traffic coming from Google Discover, and that has only happened once I’ve updated and made sure that those images are at least 1200 pixels wide.
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Megan Porta: The image thing is a huge one that I didn’t know about until my audit recently, too. I saved almost a thousand recipe posts worth of images not 1200 pixels wide. So that has been something I’ve been doing over the past few months and it is laborious. So if you can do this upfront, it will save you a lot of time.
Kathy Berget: Absolutely. When I look back just to post that I created a year ago is probably when I first started creating images at 1200 pixels. So I’m having to go back and look at some of those. For some of those posts, it’s really what I consider an easier fix. I can go in and maybe recreate those images in my Lightroom, export them out and back in a different size. Go through that post and just simply change the images because I have all the other components that I want in there. So those take me not as much time as doing a major overhaul.
Megan Porta: Do you implement the whole batching strategy when you’re going through this? Do you ever have a day where you just make, and then have an edit day? Do you ever do something like that?
Kathy Berget: I do. It just depends on what is happening. I try to batch more in like types of things like doing the biscuits and gravy. Or I’ll make two different muffins that are very similar except maybe have a different ingredient. So some of those process shots might look exactly the same until I get to, I added in blueberries and raspberries. So I will batch those types of recipes on the same day. Then I will have days where I’ll just sit and try to get everything done. Sometimes my cooking days really depend on the weather because most of my pictures I shoot in natural light so I can shoot when it’s gray outside, but it just sometimes can be a little bit more problematic.
Megan Porta: That requires flexibility. So you’ve got to have a backup plan for those days.
Kathy Berget: Yeah, definitely. Those are great days to just jump on the computer and get some work done too.
Megan Porta: Yeah. I shoot in natural lighting as well, and I’m always disappointed when I have a whole day planned where I’m going to make and shoot, and then it’s super cloudy or stormy and I can’t do anything. But seeing that as an opportunity to sit down and really get some other stuff done, edit photos or whatever else. What else do we need to know about this whole process? Are there any tips that you have that could make it more streamlined or efficient? Anything that we’ve missed, Kathy?
Kathy Berget: I think being flexible. Like I said, sometimes use those opportunities when you have them. Whether it’s just all of a sudden I realized I need to create something for my family or for a party or something. Is there something that I have that I can create, recreate that I need to use. Then also just being flexible with the weather or anything else that comes up. My personal goal is to update at least two posts, old posts a week. Sometimes I get more than that and sometimes I get fewer than that and that’s okay. So just knowing that, you have that goal, but have that flexibility in there as well.
Megan Porta: When did you start this whole process of updating?
Kathy Berget: Probably seriously in June is when I really got going on it.
Megan Porta: Have you seen any traction from all of your efforts?
Kathy Berget: That’s a really good question. A few things that I have discovered are some of the blog posts that I have that are getting absolutely no traffic from Google. When I really look into it, I’ll use Keysearch and look at the keywords. Okay. I didn’t understand a whole lot about keywords when I first started. Really now I’m understanding keyword difficulty. Some of those are extremely high keywords with really high difficulty levels. So I am still updating them. I don’t know what type of traction I’m going to get, because they’re such competitive terms. But I have had a few that are probably higher than what Keysearch says as my difficulty level, that I have seen a little bit of traction on. One of them was fresh, squeezed lemonade that I was getting absolutely no traffic on. Over the summer months from just organic search, I had about 2000 clicks from that. I can’t remember exactly where it’s ranking right now, but I have seen it. Some of them I’m also, I know it may take three, six, even 12 months before I notice anything. Then I may need to look at them and decide, is this something that I can still make some adjustments to? Or is that something maybe I need to think about no-indexing.
Megan Porta: When do you make the decision to no-index something?
Kathy Berget: I have not made that decision yet.
Megan Porta: You have zero no index posts?
Kathy Berget: I guess the ones that I have had no index aren’t recipes, they are more like the country living ones that I have. I had a post that was one of my favorites, there was about springtime on our little farm. It had all sorts of pictures of things that were happening. But there’s absolutely no Google search traffic from that. There probably never will be, but I don’t want to delete that off. So I did index some of those types. I am not ready to no-index my recipes yet because I think I need to give a full Gusto on updating and just see what it does and then re-evaluate it later.
Megan Porta: So I was on a call yesterday with Casey Markee. He was super gracious as he always is and came into the Eat Blog Talk mastermind group. So we had just had access to him and we were asking him all sorts of questions about SEO. One of the questions I asked him was about the no index posts, because I have so many. Because when I initially went through my content, I was like, no index, no index, no index. Because I honestly just didn’t know what to do with them. So I just did that. He said something that I didn’t know. So I thought maybe I would share it here. Google still recognizes those, they still have to crawl those pages. So no indexing a post doesn’t mean it’s out of sight, out of mind for Google. They do still crawl it, but then they’re like, okay, wait, we can ignore this. So that made me see it in a whole new light. I need to go back and figure out, do I want these to stay or do I want to get rid of them? Because they’re still somewhat bogging down the site, if that makes sense.
Kathy Berget: Oh, that’s good to know.
Megan Porta: Yeah. I thought so too.
Kathy Berget: I’ll have to make some really hard decisions I think, as I get further down the road with updating. Really look at that content again.
Megan Porta: Yeah. There’s a lot to think about when you have a lot of content. That I know for sure. So many decisions. Do I keep this? Is it worth it? I love this recipe, but are other people going to like it? It’s a heavy weight with a lot of content. I always say that newer bloggers who have 200 posts, I feel envious of them. Oh, it must be nice. But then on the other hand, it’s like we have options. We can comb through our content and keep the good stuff and improve. We’re often sitting on goldmines because we have so much content that we can improve. So it’s just a matter of perspective, but sometimes I feel really bogged down by my heavy content.
Kathy Berget: It can feel very overwhelming. Then that’s where I think we just take it one post at a time. It helps to have that spreadsheet and to see where we’re going with it too.
Megan Porta: I’m happy to know you’re on this journey and I just wish you the best of luck with updating. I hope that all of your new, your updated content, just gets a lot of traction and that you see a lot of progress in the coming months. One last question, before we say goodbye. How do you balance this with creating brand new content and also we’re in Q4 right now. So how do you balance this with managing Q4 and all of the attractions that we get here? Is it harder now than it was maybe this past summer?
Kathy Berget: Wow. I’m still creating new content and my goal there is also to have two new recipes a week. Again, I have that flexibility, so I try to do two new recipes, two new updated recipes a week. As far as Q4. I’m trying to optimize as much as I can right now. Looking at what I know ranked really well last year, looking where it is right now. Are there some small tweaks that I can do with it right now on a post to make sure that it’s going to rank higher. There’s a few where you have to weigh back and forth. Do I want to make that update right now? Because when you do update, sometimes you will see a slight dip. Then usually it’ll quickly come back to where it was and that hopefully will be better. But it’s a bit of a risk to update something, especially if something’s doing well. You don’t want to lose it, especially going into Q4. So I look at all of those, but some of them just really need a few more things added in there, whether it’s just the recipe tips or those frequently asked questions that I’ll just go ahead and go on into a post and make it better. I think what’s really important is that we’re always looking at what’s best for our readers or our users. If it’s something that’s going to make it better for them, then probably go ahead and make those changes right now.
Megan Porta: That’s the ultimate guide post, right? Is this going to make the user experience better?
Kathy Berget: We can get really caught up on what Google wants, but really it’s what our readers want. They do go hand in hand. So we keep that in mind as well.
Megan Porta: Yes. Yes, definitely. Is there anything we missed that we need to touch on before we start saying goodbye, Kathy?
Kathy Berget: I don’t think so.
Megan Porta: We’ve covered a lot. So hopefully if you’re listening and you have some content to comb through, this has given you some great ideas about how to get started. Kathy had so many great tips. You gave plugin ideas too. Just all kinds of stuff about moving through your content in an efficient way. So thank you, Kathy, for being here and sharing all of this.
Kathy Berget: Thank you.
Megan Porta: This was super fun. Before you go, do you have either a favorite quote or words of inspiration to share?
Kathy Berget: My words of inspiration coming from my sister, who is an ultra marathoner. When you ask about how she does it? She says it’s one step at a time. So I always think about, whatever we’re doing, whether it’s running a race or doing a big project or updating blog posts, it’s just one step at a time. We just take it one little step at a time and eventually we’ll get there.
Megan Porta: I love that. What a great analogy too, with the running and just literally taking one step. We will put together a show notes page for you, Kathy. So if anyone wants to look at those, you can go to eatblogtalk.com/beyondthechickencoop. I love your blog name by the way. So great. So tell everyone again where they can find you online, Kathy.
Kathy Berget: So my website is Beyond The Chicken Coop and on Facebook and Instagram, I am Beyond The Chicken Coop and Twitter, I’m beyond the coop.
Megan Porta: Oh, okay. Cool. Thanks for being here, Kathy. Thank you so much for listening today, food bloggers. I will see you next time.
Kathy Berget: Thanks, Megan. Bye.
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