If you’ve been writing for a while and have an archive of old blog posts, you are sitting on a goldmine of content. As important as it is to consistently create new content, updating old blog posts is also an important part of your content marketing strategy.
As with most digital marketers or small businesses, our mission when we started blogging was to get as much new content out there as possible. It was important to provide variety to attract visitors and build a strong knowledge base. And, while some of the posts gained traction and brought in page views, many fell by the wayside and got lost in the jumble of new content we were creating. Developing a large library is never a bad thing, but it can quickly become your worst enemy as the posts become outdated.
Read on to learn why updating old blog posts is so important and discuss practical ways in which you can begin reviving old blogs to work to your advantage.
Updating old blog posts allows you to drive people to relevant content. Things are changing fast no matter what industry you’re in, and those changes need to be reflected in your content. Your site visitors are able to land on any of your posts from search engines or via referral, but if you have a post which might be older than a year, it may contain irrelevant information.
Consider Google’s Freshness factor — a small piece of their search engine algorithm that prevents old pages from appearing at the top of the results when newer content appears to be more fresh. Google wants to give the best search results, which often means the newest ones. New posts generally adhere closest to modern best practices that are relevant to what’s happening in the world. SEO is also constantly changing and what worked yesterday may no longer work today. A newer post using the latest SEO practices will likely outrank your post that was written three years ago.
Also, Google displays dates right on their SERPs to show users when a piece of content was last updated. Likely, the visitor who lands on old information will hit the “close” button and move on to other options, which means you just lost a valuable visitor. Not to mention, your bounce rate will increase and the average site stay time will be low.
If you have a post that requires an update of information, take the time to review and edit. Your blog — like food — has an expiration date.
It’s easy to upload a blog post and forget about it, but that can seriously hold you back from increased traffic and rankings. Strategically improving your old posts brings new eyes to every page and maximizes your chance to monetize.
Databox ran a survey that found 61-80 percent of organic traffic comes from “old” blog posts. If that’s the case, updating old content with relevant and actionable information matters! Brian Dean of Backlinko did a content relaunch of its blog post on “White Hat Case Study: How to Get a #1 Ranking” and saw incredible results. In two weeks, the organic search engine traffic for that page increased by 260.7 percent.
This increase in traffic led to an increase of backlinks, which in turn led to higher search rankings.
While each of your blog posts stands alone in the search rankings, you may not realize that they act to influence search rankings. If you have 100 posts and only 10 of them get any traffic, the other 90 are dragging you down. If you practice regularly updating and make sure you’ve included best practices for SEO, those 90 will no longer be dragging you down, but moving you forward.
Poorly managed content certainly limits your potential, but it can also cause damage by hurting your reputation — costing you customers and decreasing your revenue. If your customers find outdated posts on your site, they’re less likely to trust you. Old (or even legally-binding) content shared unintentionally — leading to PR nightmares — can be expensive, cumbersome and make your company look bad to the public.
Creating new content on a regular basis is time-consuming. Many times, the content you spent hours creating doesn’t get the desired effect. an old post to make it relatable, relevant, and evergreen takes far less time than writing something completely new, and you’ll boost the quality of your site and business.
Evergreen refers to something that has continuous value throughout time. For example, “How to improve SEO” is an evergreen topic, while “Last month’s Google updates” is not. The Pareto principle — also referred to as the 80/20 rule — can also apply to blogging, meaning that 20 percent of your content will produce 80 percent of your traffic. Helping to create posts that are evergreen means you’re spending less time and money on marketing and more on building your core business.
On the more practical side of things, updating old blog posts is important simply because you learn! What may have sounded intelligent and cohesive to you three years ago might now sound childish.
Re-reading and coming back to information you haven’t set eyes on for some time is an excellent practice for seeing just how far you’ve come. It allows you to catch misspellings and grammatical errors that may have gotten through the first time. Typos are also a big turn-off to anyone reading your content, and when you revisit your old posts and read them with fresh eyes, you are more likely to find those silly typos.
Also, updating old blog posts gives you the chance to redeem yourself. The possibility always exists for you to have changed opinions or learned important industry information that moved your business in a different direction. The last thing you want is old content sitting on your site that may confuse current or potential customers. Remove unwanted stances and breathe new life into posts regarding practices or opinions that may have changed.
Old posts are bad only if you let them stay the way they are. They can be extremely beneficial if you know how to update or recycle them correctly.
Unlike a physical library where older books don’t hinder the functionality of the library itself, old blog content can actually hold back new leads and visitor interest.
Search rankings can fall significantly for mass amounts of old posts that have gone untouched. If you’re not driving traffic to your old blog posts, you are slashing ROI dramatically. However, it doesn’t make sense to spend great loads of time or hundreds of dollars creating a new blog post only to let it die and roll off front page search results. Your content marketing should still garner interest and search engine optimization from older posts. In fact, a seasoned blog post can generate a great deal of organic traffic.
Now we’re going to focus on how to best update old blog content so you’re making the most of your knowledge base and gaining healthy and consistent online attention.
Not all blogs are created equally. While it might seem easiest to simply go all the way back to the beginning, it makes more sense to dive into the blogs that will drive the best conversions. You want to strategically plan which blog posts you should direct your efforts toward for the best search results.
The best way to get a good look at how your older posts performed it to run a report from your analytics platform. You’ll want to download a list that includes metrics like bounce rate, time on page, social shares, and goal conversion rate.
Once you’ve downloaded your list, it’s time to review and pick out the ones that will have the best impact on your digital presence. Remember, you don’t want to select a large quantity to update as you don’t want to spread yourself too thin. Start with a core group of 5-10 blogs to focus on, including:
Andy Crestodina of Orbit Media Studios recommends finding posts that other sites have linked to but that aren’t ranking well.
“These are the pages with ranking potential. They have authority. If any of the URLs at the top of this list aren’t ranking well, you’ve found a race car sitting in the driveway. Get in, turn the keywords up, and see where it takes you.”
Automizy’s Mor Mester recommends focusing on posts that drive conversions: “You don’t need to update posts that get traffic that doesn’t lead to conversions or sales.”
These blogs should have direct calls to action and should allow readers to make a decision that you can benefit from. Updating content is nice for freshness sake, but if no one is benefiting (especially you), what’s the point?
Focus on updating old blog posts that are ranking for certain keywords, but are not in the top 10 search results.
Weidert Group’s Stephen Fischer agrees: “The best place to start is by identifying your low-hanging fruit. Which posts are currently driving traffic from positions 5-25 on Google? Do they have the search volume and relevance to support it?”
These are the posts where you’ll see the greatest jump when you update them with relevant and inviting content.
Now that you’ve picked the blog posts you want to update, here are some immediate things you can do to improve them:
This content is important to keep fresh because online readers/consumers expect to see relevant data. What happens when a visitor stumbles upon an old blog post? If it doesn’t look updated, they leave. They won’t stay long or share the content. And if you were ranking for keywords, they might decline over time.
In some cases, a massive blog overhaul isn’t even necessary. Simply revising outdated information might do just the trick for keeping blogs relatable.
According to a survey from Databox, respondents believed comprehensiveness was the most important factor when it came to updating blog posts. When consumers go looking for information, they want to find sources that will provide them with everything they need to know. If your blogs are short and light, they might make for quick reads. But, more than likely, they won’t be answering deeper questions.
If you’re trying to set yourself apart as an industry leader, your blogs should be meaty and filled with relevant and helpful information. BUT NOTE: This is not an invitation to add paragraphs just for the sake of adding paragraphs. Google is more likely to rank you higher if you focus on beefing up your blogs with the following:
Images and videos will always keep people on a page longer. As you add more media to a post you’re updating, a good rule of thumb is to include an image or video for every 350 words in the post.
Fisher Unitech’s Angelle Erickson recommends, in order to update old blog content, “adding in other engaging pieces of content, such as videos, infographics, and polls.”
According to Stephan Roussan of ICVM Group, one of the best ways to boost an old blog post is to make a video on the same or similar topic, embed it in the post, and republish it as a new post. It’s, again, important to note that media and visuals shouldn’t be added just for the sake of adding them. Make sure they are helpful and support the point you’re trying to make.
On a more practical level, make sure you are embedding media correctly so you aren’t slowing down the site speed. Images especially have a tendency to do this, so be sure you’re optimizing your site to keep SEO rankings high. You’ll also want to optimize any old images for SEO by making sure they have properly formatted ALT text and file names with keywords. These keywords should appear naturally and not feel like they’re being stuffed in.
One of the advantages of updating old content is that you have a lot more information on how people are already finding that content which, in turn, gives you insight into new keyword opportunities.
A simple approach to updating content for higher rankings is figuring out how your posts are being discovered by determining the exact keywords that they’re currently ranking for. Then, optimize the post for those keywords so that it performs even better. “The goal is to find keywords that are ranking well but aren’t being targeted,” says Roger West’s Samantha Simon. By using tools like Google’s Search Console performance report, you can see what keywords a blog post is ranking for.
If you’re adding additional information to make your posts more comprehensive, then check Google Search Console to find relevant search terms that aren’t actually present in the existing blog post so you can better speak within your updates.
Once you’ve understood what people are searching for and you’ve updated keywords accordingly, you’ll need to update the blog title, description, and headers to include those keywords. This will enable each post to perform more effectively in each specific case.
Once you feel confident in your blog’s updates, it’s time to republish. Rather than publishing an additional article on your blog, which could result in a ding from search engines for duplicate content, modify the original. While you may be tempted to update the post’s URL, it’s important to keep the URL the same, even if your software automatically creates a redirect as it can remove link value.
After republishing, the final thing you’ll need to do is resubmit your new page in Google Search Console. This will make a direct request for Google to crawl, or visit your website for tracking purposes, and your blog post will be reindexed right away.
No one company is the same, which means no one blog is the same. We still it’s important to take the time to revisit and update old blog content and stay on top of your digital marketing game.
Need help with updating old blog posts or even writing blogs for your small business?