16 Best Practices for Updating Older Content to Improve Your SEO

updating your content

Making fresh search-optimized blog posts takes time and energy—much more than you would like to give. After all, there’s keyword research, thinking up a topic, and then writing the content. As if that weren’t enough, you’ll need to publicize your content for it to be popular. It can take weeks, if not months, for your website to notice an increase in organic traffic.

Thankfully, there is a simpler way to increase traffic without overwhelming your content team. Instead of creating a new blog article, update and improve your existing ones. It’s not a novel SEO strategy, but it’s simple and effective.

We’ll go over the benefits of upgrading older content in further depth below; then, we’ll look at the best methods for doing so.

You will understand why content depreciates with time and how to update previous posts for fresh SEO value by reading this article.

Why should old content be updated?

The simple answer is that when a blog article gets old, it receives fewer visitors. The explanations behind this are:

  1. The relevancy of Blog posts dwindles over time.
  2.  Search engines consider both relevance and recency.

 We’ll go through both of these points in much detail below.

The relevancy of blog posts dwindles over time

Since the first time you wrote and published an article some years back, new content on the same topic has likely come to light. For example, if you’re writing about technology, most people won’t be interested in reading a review of the best laptops if the content is five years old.

But what if you’re writing about something that doesn’t change with time, such as a historical event?

Posts on topics like this may also become obsolete with time because of outdated links, which may occur due to other web admins unpublishing web pages or using links leading to outdated sources.

Search engines consider both relevance and recency

Google confirmed in a blog post in 2011 that it takes into consideration both relevance and recency when ranking web pages. This may not apply to all topics equally, but it is undoubtedly an element of Google’s algorithm, particularly when it comes to:

  • Recurring events
  • Frequently updated topics, such as product reviews
  • News or Hot trends

According to research by Halverson Group, the average blog article has a lifespan of two years before impressions begin to fade.

However, you can prevent this “content decay” by strategically upgrading your previous posts.

There is a proper and improper way to do it, like with most things. But upgrading old content does provide results if the best practices are followed. Many businesses have even published case studies on this subject.

Boosts your click-through rate

Making changes to old content affects how it appears in search engines.

Whenever the date displayed by SERPS is from the current year or a previous year, it gives a better impression than when a date is from several years ago.

As a result, upgrading your content frequently is a great strategy to boost your click-through rate. This could boost your rankings with help from Google RankBrain, which is a machine learning (AI) algorithm that Google uses to sort the search results. It also helps Google process and understand search queries.

Let you do more with less

Lastly, improving your existing content gives a high return on investment. There is a lot of new content being released every day, making it difficult to rank against new blog posts.

Older content that has already proven to be successful, on the other hand, can be quickly reintroduced. It does not have to grind its way up there like new posts and pages.

Similarly, if you check your web analytics, you will most likely discover that most traffic originates from older content. As a result, investing in existing pages and posts is an investment in what so far pulls in the most visitors—the classic 80/20.

Furthermore, reusing existing content is less difficult than writing content from the start. It enables you to release a new post without having to write one.

How frequently should old blog posts be updated?

We previously discussed three methods for determining which old blog entries should be updated.

For most experts, these updates should occur once every three months:

The lifetime value and average duration of a blog article are crucial considerations.

A study authorized by Izea and carried out by the Halverson group found that it takes around two years for a blog post to receive the highest impressions (about 99 percent).

Interestingly, the study discovered that most blog posts go through three life stages, which are as follows:

  1. Shout phase: In the first 7-10 days, the blog article receives an explosive spike in impressions (approximately 50% of its impressions).
  2. Echo phase: At this stage, the blog post gets 72% of its impressions; this normally lasts for roughly 30 days after the shout phase has ended.
  3. Reverberate phase: In this phase, the blog post records the other 28% of its impressions within 30-700 days.

Keeping all this in mind, we all can accept that upgrading your old blog content provides numerous opportunities, such as increasing impressions, conversions, and clicks.

Best practices for updating old content

Here’s how to convert outdated blog entries into revenue generators.

Use these eight finest practices to gain more traffic from your previous blog entries.

1. Gather your data

Which posts should you optimize? This is often the first problem.  In theory, optimize all your posts. However, it is useful to know where to begin. Hopefully, you’re tracking a variety of indicators that will help you figure it out.

Your first step is to go to your Google Analytics. You can find out which pages on your site are the most popular by going to Behavior > Site Content > All Pages.

You will also find the bounce rate and the average time spent on the page. Also, at the top of the screen is a spreadsheet you can export this to.

You can include your pages with the highest links to that list. These can be found inside Google Search Console by going to Links > Top linked pages.

You may also wish to add conversions per page from email sign-up forms, rankings, social shares, and other metrics that you use to measure how successful your pages are.

2. Find and update the relevant pages

Once you’ve gathered all of your data, it’s time to examine it. Here are some examples of pages to keep an eye out for:

  • High traffic but poor conversions: When optimized, this type of content can result in many more leads and sign-ups.
  • Low traffic but high conversions: In this case, increasing traffic could improve the number of leads.
  • Previously popular content: This content garnered links and shares on social media in the past but has since lost traffic and search rank.

3. Give old content with potential SEO potential priority

Go to Google Search Console and check whether your content is doing well; pay particular attention to your pages’ click-through rates and impressions. For any given period, impressions measure how frequently an item appeared in search results, whereas click-through rate indicates the number of users that clicked on your specific blog post.

A decent rule of thumb is to update any articles with a high number of impressions but a poor click-through rate.

These blog posts are ready for additional clicks if they are already appearing regularly in search results and require minor tweaking to get them.

You could also use a keyword tool to determine which terms your content ranks for and how high on the rank list they place. Posts that rank anywhere between #11 and #50 (anywhere from the second to the fourth pages of Google’s search results) for their target keywords give a great chance for updating.

4. Evaluate your content & do content research

 Look more closely at your existing content and consider the following:

  • What was the original aim or purpose of the article?
  • In what areas does it succeed?
  • In what areas does it falter?

Determine the right target keyword phrases for which you want your prior posts to rank if you’ve not already. Then conduct some competitive research to see what is currently ranking on the first page of search results for the chosen keywords. Compare these pages with your own.

Competitive research can assist you in determining the type of content Google considers to be the most relevant to a specific search query. In addition, it can also assist you in coming up with new ideas to update your existing content. To get even more out of this phase, use a SERP analysis tool such as Ahrefs, SemRush, and etc.

5. Add value instead of just length

Content marketers often mistake word count for quality, believing that the lengthier a blog post is, the better.

But don’t be deceived: long-form content does not always equal more SEO value. If Google’s algorithm valued longer content, every website would create large amounts of content for each of its pages.

Instead, for any content, your main purpose should be to provide value to readers.

 Consider:

  • How can you assist readers in achieving their objectives?
  • What do you want your target audience to get out of reading your content? (In other words, what is the purpose of their search?)
  • What are the gaps in current pages that rank high for your target keyword?

6. Correct any typos and grammar or punctuation errors

One simple technique to improve the performance of your content is to avoid typographical, grammatical, and punctuation errors.

Although this seems to be easy, it is well worth the effort. This is because typos in the copy reflect badly on your brand.

The same is true for your website. A typo can make a document appear sloppy and damage its authority—and readers would notice.

In a survey examining how typos and grammatical errors are perceived, respondents unanimously agreed that poor language and spelling would put them off.

7. Remove old stuff

The majority of your content that is evergreen, can be easily optimized and updated. However, some of it should not be occupying space on your website. Old job postings, products information and services you no longer provide, former staff profiles, and blog posts that are nearly identical to the more popular ones should be removed.

The same is true for any duplicate content on your website. When dealing with these types of pages, a 301 redirect is typically best. You can easily direct people to a revamped careers page, direct old products to the latest related ones, or display a blog post that does better than the duplicate.

This allows you to keep whatever value that the previous URL may have had.

However, you don’t want to create too many redirects because they can place a strain on your servers. This can cause your site to load slowly, which can hurt your rankings.

In some cases, you can replace the outdated page with tailored messages that explain the situation and link to a related page.

 It can be tempting to update the URL—or, more precisely, the URL path—of an older piece of content.

However, in general, changing the URL does not involve replacing the content. One major reason is that you don’t want to lose the SEO value of any existing links to the page.

If your old blog article has had inbound links to it, whether via guest posts, organic links, or another source, altering the URL will render them ineffective. Users will not see your recently updated content if they click a link to the specific post.

You may, of course, use a 301 redirect to reroute traffic, but this may result in a loss of SEO value. After all, it will take some time for search engines to identify the redirect and credit the latest URL based on its origin.

That doesn’t mean URL changes are completely off-limits. It would be advantageous if you were fussy about them.

  • When is it OK to update the URL of a post?
  • If it’s too long—say, more than 1,000 characters—
  • If you’re restructuring your website; with its page categories

If the URL contains a limiting piece of information (for example, if your URL path has a specific year included, it might make your page appear more topical than timeless)

Note: You should keep the 301 redirect all the time if you have backlinks. Make sure to go through your internal links to replace the URL. If you do not have any links pointing to them, Google suggests leaving it for a long period, a year plus.

8. Improve internal and external links

Aside from altering the content itself, you should also go over the links and make any necessary changes.

First, click on each link in your article to ensure that they all lead to a useful and appropriate web page, having too many might not be a good thing. If an external link links to an out-of-date source, it’s time to find new research or statistics to replace it.

While you’re doing it, keep an eye out for possibilities to build new internal links.

If you’ve maintained a consistent publishing schedule on your blog, chances are your older posts have plenty of space for links to your fresh content. Adding links to older relevant pages on your website helps route traffic to other pages and keep visitors on your site for longer periods.

9. Add schema markup

Schema markup is a type of code that helps Google spiders comprehend a page better. You can add article schema, FAQ schema, recipe, images and more. Providing search engines structured data with schema provides more of a blueprint compared to having them analyze your content and interpret it.

You don’t have to be a coding expert to understand this code below:

<script type="application/ld+json">
{
  "@context": "https://schema.org",
  "@type": "Recipe",
  "author": "John Smith",
  "cookTime": "PT1H",
  "datePublished": "2009-05-08",
  "description": "This classic banana bread recipe comes from my mom -- the walnuts add a nice texture and flavor to the banana bread.",
  "image": "bananabread.jpg",
  "recipeIngredient": [
    "3 or 4 ripe bananas, smashed",
    "1 egg",
    "3/4 cup of sugar"
  ],
  "interactionStatistic": {
    "@type": "InteractionCounter",
    "interactionType": "https://schema.org/Comment",
    "userInteractionCount": "140"
  },
  "name": "Mom's World Famous Banana Bread",
  "nutrition": {
    "@type": "NutritionInformation",
    "calories": "240 calories",
    "fatContent": "9 grams fat"
  },
  "prepTime": "PT15M",
  "recipeInstructions": "Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix in the ingredients in a bowl. Add the flour last. Pour the mixture into a loaf pan and bake for one hour.",
  "recipeYield": "1 loaf",
  "suitableForDiet": "https://schema.org/LowFatDiet"
}
</script>

Once searcn engines crawls this code, it can identify specific information about your recipe:

Just in life, if you provide an SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) to a new employee, they will go through it and understand it. However, if you wrote a book on the whole company, it will take time for the employee to read it interpret it, and understand it.

10. Optimize your keywords

Google’s team has made it a point in recent years to prioritize keyword placement but in the context of user intent and experience. In other words, keywords should not be injected algorithmically into a piece of content but rather be included naturally in a way that corresponds with the demands of the users.

You can still optimize your content by strategically placing keywords, such as in your content’s:

  • Title tags
  • Meta description tags
  • Body copy, especially at the start
  • Headings

 Avoid stuffing keywords in every heading and paragraph; the goal is to organically include keywords to enhance the user experience.

11. Integrate relevant multimedia

Visuals provide depth to your content and break up words to make it more readable; they may even communicate information more effectively in some cases. So, including multimedia on a page is a simple way to improve its user experience.

The idea is to include relevant, purposeful multimedia. You’ll need to think about which graphics add value to your content; a blanket approach like including a video in every article doesn’t make sense.

Fortunately, you have a variety of solutions at your disposal:

  • Free stock images and graphics from libraries like Unsplash or Pexels
  • Screenshots
  • Infographics
  • Videos
  • GIFs

Note: Uploading your own custom images versus stock photos can help increase your E.A.T.

12. Update your call to action (CTAS)

As your content ages, the chances are that the calls to action you placed in it are no longer relevant. When examining CTAs, you can do the following:

  • Include more power words — emotionally charged words associated with persuasion – in both your CTAs and the material surrounding the CTAs.
  • Use ‘my’ instead of ‘your’ and follow the ‘I want to’ principle.
  • To provide your readers a sense of safety, use trust signals like privacy assurances.
  • Use language that appeals directly to your target audience.
  • Focus on important benefits rather than features.

13. Publicize your new post

Your work isn’t finished once you’ve modified an existing post. It would be best if you advertised it in the same way that you would a new blog post. The first task is to request that Google re-crawl it. You can do that in Google Search Console, and instructions can be found here. This will also reduce the amount of time it requires for your rankings to increase.

After that, make sure to include the blog on your social media profiles regularly. You can partially automate this using a social scheduling tool such as Buffer. There are also plugins, such as Revive Old Posts, that automatically share older content on social media.

If you have an email list, notify your subscribers that the post has been changed. A great strategy to promote your new-old content via email is to create a welcome message for new subscribers that includes a best-of link collection directing them to your new-old content.

14. Fix any issues with recent google updates

Each year, Google releases up to 600 updates, intending to refine the algorithm and adjust the ranking variables for various websites.

The most recent upgrade, an unfounded one dubbed “Fred,” caused considerable damages to sites having short articles and keyword-stuffed content. According to MarketingProfs research, the Fred update has harmed numerous sites with low-value content, causing traffic to fall.

15. Make an email series

Some content is best given in small bite-sized pieces, which is ideal for a daily email series. Even this essay may be turned into a series of brief emails that provide readers with useful advice. Once you’ve planned out the email series, free or premium email platforms like Sendinblue, MailChimp, and Campaign Monitor are the simplest method to send it to all of your subscribers at once.

16. Try not to make too many significant changes at once

The most important suggestion I can give is to make sure that when you update a blog article, you do so to provide extra value and not just to update it. This is especially crucial if you work in the tech industry, as I do. You must update it if things become obsolete, out of supply, or better alternatives become available.

Make content updating a regular part of your strategy.

Many content marketing techniques emphasize creating and promoting new content while ignoring older pieces published years ago. However, ignoring your previous work can result in dozens, if not hundreds, of missed opportunities. Refreshing older content can help improve your website’s SEO value and bring new visitors. The beauty of updating old content is how simple it is to include it into your current approach. Because the information already exists, updating it takes much less time than writing a new piece.

In the long run, you’ll earn greater ROI from each of your blog posts—and no law says you can only update them once. Continue refreshing your content as needed, whether it’s due to a significant change in your sector or a topic that has skyrocketed in search popularity. In any case, this SEO technique is simple to execute and maintain over time.

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