In our last post, we started a short series on the need to update old blog content, and why it’s such an integral exercise for small businesses. 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.
In this second part of our blog series, we 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 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 or even writing blogs for your small business?