While most websites focus on publishing new content to lure their audience, the truth is, you can generate more results by updating content that is already present on your website.
If you have been posting blogs for a long time, chances are, you have a backlog of old posts that haven’t been updated in the last 2-3 years since you published them. But while you have completely forgotten about those old posts, your target audience is still discovering those pages through Google search or other referral sources.
When new readers land on your website and go through an old post with outdated, stale, or that has information that isn’t relevant anymore, it can increase your bounce rate, affect your rankings, and invariably sabotage your content marketing strategy.
In this article, I’ll discuss why you should update old posts and what is the best way to do it.
Why update old blog posts anyway?
The content on your website represents your brand. By improving and optimizing the existing content on your website, you can provide more valuable information to users and increase search engine discoverability.
Moreover, updating some of your older, but high-performing posts can extend the life of the content and give your website traffic a big boost as well. If you have noticed some of your evergreen blog posts that were previously getting consistent organic traffic are now falling in search engine rankings, they might have been taken over by newer and updated posts.
The Google May 2020 Core Update is also favoring websites that readily update old content.
Finally, it is also quicker and easier to update an old post as compared to writing a whole new one from scratch. Though you should still be publishing new and original content, updating important old posts can help you save time while still maintaining a consistent publishing frequency.
How do you select which posts to update?
The first thing that you should do is shortlist all the posts that need to be immediately updated and create a content strategy for the same. While there are many ways to go about it, just ensure you design a content strategy that you will actually use.
The main pages that you should update on your website, include:
Pages with high-quality links
Look for posts that have solid, high-quality backlinks from other authority websites, but haven’t been able to rank well in search results. To update these posts, all you would need to do is add the important keywords in your post to see an increase in page views.
Pages which drive a lot of traffic
Updating and refreshing pages that already receive the most traffic on your website is the easiest way to see a spike in website traffic. To find out the most popular pages on your website, go to Google Analytics. On the left pane, select Behavior → Site Content → All Pages. You can choose the time duration as 12 months or more to see the list of pages that get the most views.
Pages with maximum keyword impressions but low rankings
Updating old posts only gives you better rankings and traffic when you target the content in the right way. And for that to happen, you need to know the exact keywords you want to target.
Go to Google Search Console to look for keyword queries that have a lot of impressions but considerably low rankings and click-through rates (CTR). Focus on keywords where your website pages are ranking in the 6-20 position. Find exactly which pages are showing up for those keywords – those are the pages you should update
Pages that have seen a sudden loss in organic traffic
Analyze traffic for your most popular pages on the website for the last 12 months to identify posts that might have suddenly lost organic traffic. The reason behind sudden and sharp drops can be different for different posts.
You can use the Google Analytics dashboard to find posts that are losing traffic and then look into Search Console to find out if those pages have recently lost rankings for important keywords.
Best practices for updating and republishing old blog posts
1. Keep the same URL
Instead of publishing the updated post as a new article, which can result in search engines thinking your post has duplicate content in it, just modify the original post and keep the URL exactly the same. You can write the updated post in a separate document and copy/paste it over the original post to republish it.
2. Target new keywords
Your already published post might be ranking for some keywords that you never expected. Find those keywords and place them strategically in your content to get better keyword rankings. It’s best to pick keywords that have considerably low search volumes because they will be a lot easier to rank.
3. Update content for accuracy
You shouldn’t just update content for the sake of updating it. Instead, focus on blog posts that have become outdated or have stale information in them. When updating posts, evaluate all the content for accuracy in determining the sections that need to be removed, changed, or added.
A good practice is to see how other websites are tackling the same topic and how you can do it better. You can monitor content by keywords, topics, and sources by using a discovery tool like Content Studio. You can analyze the top pages which are receiving the most engagement.
You should also make sure to check the popular keyword tags and average word count of the posts for the selected keyword or topic to update your old blog posts accordingly for maximum engagement.
Shortlist the top web pages and analyze them carefully to understand why they are so popular and make changes to your existing posts accordingly.
4. Add internal links to new content
If you are updating an old blog post that was initially published over two years ago, it might only have internal backlinks to content that was published way before the post itself. While freshening up your post, you can use this opportunity to add internal links to recently published content to boost the SEO performance of your website.
5. Search for any broken links
While adding new links, you should also check for any broken or incorrect links in the content. All the links in your article should be accurate and lead your readers to the right place. Broken links don’t just dampen the user experience, but they are also a red flag for search engines. You can use a broken link checker like Ahrefs to quickly find any incorrect links on your website.
6. Add new videos or images
One of the best ways to freshen up an old article is by adding new media to it. You can add new screenshots or even videos that are related to the topic or the keyword of the blog.
In fact, by adding videos to blog posts, you can increase the amount of time users stay on your website, which will directly help boost the website’s SEO. You could create a video version of one of your high performing posts and upload it on the website for higher engagement.
7. Include an editor’s note for transparency
Whenever you edit an existing blog post, make sure to add a small editor’s note at the end just for the sake of transparency. This will especially be helpful for popular posts on your website that already get a lot of comments and views. Your readers might get confused about seeing the new information and an old date on the post. In the note, you can add the date and reason for the changes.
When updating old posts for SEO, you have to make sure that the post is optimized for the keywords you are trying to target. Otherwise, you might not be able to see any visible results.
That is why you must conduct a keyword audit to find the right keywords that should be included in every post and then create a blog republishing strategy accordingly.