The most successful businesses today craft their marketing strategies around online content. Creating engaging, informational, and relevant content for search engine rankings takes time and research. High-quality content can bring your site to the top of search results, increasing your organic traffic.
Unfortunately, you may not have the resources to create enough fresh content to keep up with the enormous corporations pumping out daily blog posts from professional content departments. Meanwhile, you’ve got dozens or hundreds of old articles on your site that you spent valuable time researching and writing that aren’t relevant anymore.
Updating your old content to meet your audience’s newest needs is an excellent way to recycle your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts, keep content fresh, and target new keywords without all the work of writing entirely new content. Keep reading as our team at Connective discusses ways to do so. We can help you, too.
Why Update Your Old Content?
Google’s algorithm includes many ranking factors determining where your site will appear in search engine results. Google loves fresh content.
The more you publish articles, the more Google crawls your site, bringing your newest content into search engine rankings. Updating content you’ve published in the past lets you enjoy the following benefits:
- Higher Google rankings: You likely have old articles that appear low in search results. When you rewrite content following SEO best practices, you can bring each page closer to the top of organic search results and boost your entire site’s ranking. The more high-ranking pages you secure, the better average position your website will have.
- Increased organic traffic: An article you published months or years ago will not bring substantial traffic to your website unless it’s still popular today. After refreshing the old content, Google gives you another chance to rank high, bringing more visitors to your site.
- Improved impressions: More traffic to your updated content creates more clicks and impressions on your page. A higher click-through rate can lead to conversions.
- Broadened marketing opportunities: You can post all the pages you updated across your various marketing channels as new content. For example, you can share one blog post on your company’s social media channels or send it to your email subscribers.
- Boosted conversion rates and sales: Larger traffic volumes plus a better click-through rate mean more conversions and sales for your business.
How Do You Know If Your Content Needs an Update?
Updating old blog posts is only beneficial if the content is no longer contributing to your website’s performance. You likely have some evergreen content that may be years old but still performs well today. Altering these articles could harm your search engine placement.
So, how can you tell which old content needs updating? If the outdated content meets any of the criteria below, you should probably consider a quick update or full refresh.
The Content Is Very Old and Not Up-to-Date
The top signal that you need to update a blog post is when the content no longer meets modern demands or trends—for example, a blog post for the biggest fashion trends of 2019.
A few less obvious examples of outdated content may include:
- Mentions of specific events (presidential elections, natural disasters, holidays, etc.)
- Slang language that’s no longer popular
- Images or memes that aren’t trending anymore
- Anything recently proven inaccurate
Depending on the nature of your blog post, you may be able to update a few words, like the year or slang language, while keeping the same topic. In more complex scenarios, you may need to refresh the entire article. For example, “Fashion Trends of 2019” could become “Looking Back on Fashion Trends From 2019: What’s Still Popular Today and What Isn’t.”
New Information Is Available
Creating valuable and relevant blog posts includes delivering the most up-to-date information. When you perform content audits, keep an eye out for any old posts that may have new information available.
For example, say you wrote a blog post a few months ago about upcoming weather predictions this winter, encouraging readers to purchase the emergency generator that your brand sells. Now, let’s say the weather channel predicts that a huge blizzard will hit your entire region in a week. You can use this new information to add more urgency and relevancy to your existing blog content.
Newly available information may highlight your existing content or make it more accurate and correct. We recommend researching the topic to see if new knowledge could improve your old blog posts.
The Page Hasn’t Had Traffic or Search Impressions for a Year
The ultimate purpose of your blog posts is to generate traffic, leads, and conversions. An easy way to find your low-hanging fruit is by simply analyzing your site’s current traffic and search impressions.
You can use an SEO tool like Google Analytics to view the average position and traffic volume of all the articles and individual landing pages on your website. Use this information to find key articles with low traffic volumes and search impressions over the last year. Old blog posts with poor performance rates are excellent starting points for your content refresh campaign.
The SERPs Display More Detailed Guides Than Yours
The search engine results page (SERP) appears when you type your target keyword or phrase into your preferred search engine. SERPs provide valuable information, like:
- The type of content users desire when typing their search query (informational, commercial, transactional, etc.)
- What content and sites rank highest for those relevant keywords (blogs, YouTube video tutorials, scholarly articles, etc.)
- How detailed your content should be (length, word count, sections, etc.)
We recommend reading the top articles for your focus keyword phrase to see how your old blog post compares. Consider the article’s primary focus area (what question does it answer?), length, approximate word count, structure, depth, voice, and tone.
If you find that most of the articles go into far more depth than yours, you may need to expand your blog post. If you discover that the top-ranking blog posts are shorter than your old content, you may want to trim down your information.
It’s Full of Grammatical Errors
All writers make mistakes, and that’s okay. Luckily, most search engines won’t penalize your ranking for just a few typos.
Tons of misspelled words or grammatical issues may make it hard for users to read and understand your content. In that case, search engines may reduce your ranking in search results.
Updating content that has grammatical errors is one of the simplest options. Rather than rethinking the entire concept, you can edit the old post to be as clean and error-free as possible.
The Current Content Doesn’t Align With Your Brand
Consumers’ needs, trends, and products change, and so does your brand. Your brand has likely evolved over the last few years, though your old content hasn’t had a chance to keep up.
Your old blog posts may use the wrong voice, tone, perspective, images, colors, fonts, sizing, or structure. For example, you may have used a third-person academic perspective and tone in an old blog post, though today, your brand uses a first-person conversational tone.
You want to provide a unified brand experience across each consumer touch point, including your blog posts. A solid, unified brand experience increases recognition, awareness, retention rates, and referrals. To keep your brand as recognizable as possible, you should review old blog posts to ensure that they meet your current goals.
The Page Has Broken Links
You likely use internal linking in your content to direct readers to other website pages or blog posts. If you’ve ever deleted website content or changed your page URLs, your links pointing to these pages will create errors that deter users and also negatively impact your ranking.
You may also use external links when referencing other resources. Occasionally, these sources may also delete pages or change URLs, causing errors in your outbound links.
You can locate broken links using various SEO tools. We recommend adding fresh links to any of your blog posts with errors. Even if you don’t have errors, you can add internal links to strengthen your website’s navigability, improve link equity (a search engine ranking factor), and direct user actions.
Quick Updates You Can Make
After locating which old posts require updates, it’s time to get to work. First, we recommend sorting your old content into two piles. You’ll find that some of your blog content only requires a few quick updates, while other blog posts require entire rewrites.
You can start with the old content that only needs a few quick updates so that you can have a new post ready as soon as possible. We recommend updating content using the tactics below for blog posts that don’t require entire overhauls.
Change the Metadata
Metadata is information that tells search engine crawlers what your article is about. The metadata appears on the search engine results page, showing searchers a brief preview of what they can expect if they choose your article. Search engines weigh meta descriptions and meta tags heavily when ranking pages, so updating this information is an easy way to transform your old content.
Update Title Tags
The meta title tag is one of the most important HTML elements of your page. It should include your primary keyword while telling users and search engine crawlers what your article is about.
Creating the perfect title tag isn’t easy. You must adhere to various criteria, like character length, while making it sound engaging enough for real humans to want to read. When editing your title tag, consider the following:
- Does it explain your content?
- Is it relevant to your brand?
- Will your audience find it engaging?
- Does it include your primary keyword naturally?
- Is it under 60 characters?
Rewrite the Meta Description
The meta description is the small blurb underneath the title tag in search results describing the page.
Like the title tag, your meta description should include keywords, adhere to the right word count, and explain your blog post. Updating content by rewriting your meta description can increase your search volume because it can make an old article seem more appealing to searchers and search engine crawlers.
Refresh the Images
Content creation involves every aspect of the article, including the visuals. Outdated images reduce your page’s loading speed, disengage readers, and reduce your rankability.
You can transform an old blog post into new content by updating the images or creating high-quality and engaging visuals. We recommend using a compressing tool for high-resolution images so you don’t reduce loading speeds. Be sure to add alternative texts to any updated content so you meet accessibility criteria.
Fix Internal Links and Broken Links
If you find any link issues in your blog content, you can easily resolve the errors and republish to the Google Search Console for a quick win. We recommend removing or replacing broken links and adding high-quality links to your content to improve your site’s authority.
Create Better-fit Headings
Like metadata, HTML headings tell the Google Search Console what your article’s about and create a hierarchical structure. HTML headings include the H1, H2s, H3s, H4s, and so forth.
Targeted and relevant headings that include your keywords keep readers engaged and help Google better understand your content so you can rank higher. We recommend reviewing your old blog content headings to find improvement areas.
Change the Publish Date
Before publishing your updates, change the official publication date so that Google Search Console and your readers can see your content as a new article. We recommend keeping the content under the same URL so you don’t have to deal with broken links.
How To Do a Full Content Update
Now that you’ve done a few quick updates on your easy articles, it’s time to dig deep and complete a full content update. We recommend selecting the most outdated and underperforming content. After picking which article you’d like to work on, follow the steps below.
Pick Your Target Audience
Who will search for your keyword, click on your article, and read the entire thing? Your target audience may be busy college students seeking quick tips on first-time job applications or stay-at-home moms seeking thorough articles on childcare information.
Regardless, you must understand your audience to accurately cater your content to their needs. Understanding your readers’ needs will help you determine the content’s voice, tone, length, topic, answers, and more.
Conduct Keyword Research
Keywords are at the core of all SEO content marketing strategies. The terms you incorporate into your content dictate which search queries you’ll rank for.
Finding the best-fitting keywords involves many complex factors, like the:
- Monthly search volume
- Ranking difficulty
- Search intentions
For example, you may want a term with thousands of searches per month, though not something that’s impossible to rank for. You also want terms or phrases that accurately represent your content; otherwise, people won’t click on your article for the answers they seek.
You can use various Google Search Console SEO tools to compile keyword lists for your article. We recommend selecting one primary keyword that you’ll use in the title and throughout the article, plus a few secondary and tertiary terms that support the primary one.
Research SERP’s Search Intent
After selecting your keywords, research what content currently surfaces for these terms. You can search the keywords on Google to review the first page of results.
We recommend analyzing a few things:
- What type of content appears first? (service pages, blogs, product pages, videos, etc.)
- Does the content answer a certain question?
- How long are the articles?
- How do the blogs flow? (lists, numbers, headers, paragraphs, etc.)
- What other keywords do these articles or companies rank for?
After answering these questions, you should consider what your audience wants when they search for your keyword. Maybe they need a quick answer, a thorough explanation, or a ranking list of top products. You can use this information to craft content that’s centered around your audience’s needs.
We recommend choosing a few of your favorite articles on the topic. When you sit down to rewrite your old post, you can use some of their information as a starting point. To rank above these articles, you’ll need to add more value and insight to the existing content.
Check Competitors’ Blog Articles
Your competitors likely spend just as much time, if not more, researching keywords and curating content marketing strategies. Luckily for you, you can use their hard work to your advantage. Your competing businesses want to reach the same audience as you, so you can benefit from using similar keywords in your content.
We recommend checking your top competitors’ websites to review their latest posts. Here, you can analyze which topics they’re writing about and which key phrases they’re using in these topics to attract readers. You can also use various online tools to find your competitor’s top-ranking articles and terms.
Create an Outline
Now that you’ve completed all your research, it’s time to draft the outline for your article. The outline will depict how the entire blog flows, how you engage your readers, and how search engine crawlers analyze the information.
Before creating the outline, you should list a few key items:
- The main question your article must answer
- Your desired word count based on SERPs
- Your primary and secondary keywords
- All major talking points
With these items in mind, you can draft your outline. It should include the following components:
- Title (formatted as an H1)
- Introduction section
- As many H2 headings, H3 subheadings, and accompanying sections as you need to get your point across
- Conclusion with a call to action (if you want your reader to convert)
Your subheadings should adhere to standard H2, H3, H4, etc. guidelines. The most important topics should be H2s, with smaller items subsumed under them. All headings should progress consecutively, meaning that you should never go directly from an H2 to an H4.
Try to include your keywords in as many headings as possible while keeping it sounding natural. You don’t want to stuff a bunch of headings into your article for SEO purposes if you don’t have enough content to support the outline. After constructing your outline, you can begin drafting notes and talking points for each section.
Write the Blog Post or Article
After completing your outline and research, writing the article should be fairly straightforward. Follow the topics associated with each section and try to write as concisely as possible. Keep your brand’s voice and tone in mind while considering your audience’s needs.
We recommend including bullet points or numbered lists wherever possible to break up large bodies of text. Nothing’s more intimidating than a 12-line paragraph. When you write content, try to keep each paragraph to around three sentences.
Be sure to edit and proofread your article once it’s complete to locate any typos or errors. At this point, you can add any brand flares, like bolded or italicized text.
Create a Compelling Title
Your title should convince readers to click on your article over all the others. You want it to convey the content’s purpose in only a few words without sounding overly “salesy.” The title should also include your primary keyword for SEO purposes, though you want it to sound natural.
For example, if your primary keyword is “resume tips,” your title could be “8 Resume Tips for Beginning Your Post-College Career.” This title clarifies how many tips the article covers, who the audience is for, and what readers may gain by clicking.
Find or Create Images That Suit the Article Best
65% of people classify themselves as visual learners. Images and graphics will make your article more engaging and easier to understand. More people can connect with your message when you replace complex text with a simple image.
After writing your article, consider which aspects you can depict visually. For example, the above statistic could be a visually appealing pie graph. You can also consider charts, graphs, Venn diagrams, or screenshots (for step-by-step processes).
You’ll likely find that most of your content can’t easily be transformed into a neat graph. In these scenarios, you can complement the ideas with emotionally charged images, funny pictures, trending memes, GIFs, and more. If you have the resources, you can also consider creating video forms of your articles for readers who prefer to listen and watch rather than read.
Add Internal and External Linking
Internal linking prompts readers to take additional actions on your website and strengthens your SEO. We recommend reading through your content to find any potential internal link opportunities.
For example, suppose you mention cover letters in your article on resume tips and already have an entire blog on writing cover letters. In that case, you can link directly to it, so readers can continue learning more.
External links to authoritative sites prove that you did your research. For example, if you make any statistical claims in your article, link to the primary source that researched this information. When you back up your information with external links, Google crawlers will view your site as more authoritative.
Publish Your New Content
After completing and polishing your article, you can finally publish it on your website. Remember to update the meta content and publish date. Once live, you can begin sharing it with your social followers or email subscribers.
You can also consider other content marketing tactics to draw more attention to the new post. For example, you can write guest posts for other blogs, referencing your new content with a link to your site.
Submit Your Article to Google Search Console and Other Engines
Most search engines, like Google, will automatically crawl your site every couple of weeks. If you want to see results from your new article faster than this, you can manually submit the URL to Google and other engines.
To do so with a Google Console Account, follow these steps:
- Log into your Google Search Console account
- Go to “URL Inspection”
- Paste in the URL
- Click “Request Indexing.”
Updating your old content is an excellent way to improve your SEO game, reach new audiences, and launch your website toward success. Your blog likely has dozens of old posts that can become big hits with just a bit of re-working.
At Connective, we understand all the complex ins and outs of SEO strategies and ranking factors. If you need help refreshing your old content, researching keywords, or ranking higher, we can help. Contact us at Connective today to speak with our SEO experts today.