You’ve researched the best keywords, crafted sparkling prose, and created a solid inventory of blog posts on your website. Publication, however, isn’t the final step of an effective content strategy. Even after your content has been shared with the world, it may need a little TLC to rise in search engine rankings and drive more traffic to your site.
Want to make sure you’re offering the best possible blog posts and articles? In this guide, I’ll explain how to update website content so that your website continually delivers results. By the end, you’ll know how to evaluate your existing articles to see which ones would benefit from a refresh and how to update a blog post to optimize for search and improve your readers’ experience.
Why You Should Invest in Updating Your Old Content
The internet is ever-changing. Keywords shift, search engine algorithms change, and businesses constantly jostle to reach the top of search engine results pages (SERPs).
Maybe you’ve started a blog to build topical authority in your industry and capture more keywords. But as existing blog posts age, you need to devote time to updating them so they stay relevant for search engines and users.
Maintain Content Freshness
The internet is about immediacy, and users want the most current information available. Google has indexed hundreds of billions of web pages, and searchers who click through to outdated information can easily close the tab in favor of a newer search result. Offering fresh content gives you a prime opportunity to attract your target audience.
Make the Most of Your Current Content
Well-crafted content serves a dual purpose: it helps Google understand the topical relevance of your site and provides value to users.
Don’t let your old blog posts languish. Updates maximize content potential and attracts new website visitors. Plus, revitalizing posts you’ve already made a substantial investment in allows you to extract additional value with less investment than it would take to create entirely new content.
Boost Search Engine Rankings
Even if a page once ranked well, many factors can cause a drop in search rankings. A content refresh is an opportunity to fine-tune a page and ensure it meets best practices for SEO content creation. You can refine keywords, re-align search intent, rewrite meta tags, optimize images, add internal links, update data, and fix errors to strengthen a page’s ranking in SERPs.
Improve User Experience
Once prospects land on your website, your content needs to engage them and pull them into your sales funnel. Think of updating website content as giving it a makeover. Replace outdated information, add depth and value, and make the pieces more inviting so readers not only find what they’re looking for but continue exploring your site — and hopefully, take action.
Learn more about creating content for the customer journey here.
How Frequently Should You Update Website Content?
Content should be updated as often as needed. However, the cadence you establish to revisit content will likely depend on the size of your website, your resources, and your SEO goals. A large business with a significant budget and assertive SEO strategy might have the capacity to update old content more often than a company with a limited budget.
Evaluate the needs of your site. How well is it performing? Do you have a lot of old blog posts that can be transformed into opportunities to rank? Your content strategy should balance the need to produce new content that keeps regular visitors returning while allowing time to refresh and update existing content.
Establish an update process with your available resources — even if that means only updating one blog post a month — and stick with it. Monitor the impact of your updates to see if you should increase your efforts.
Quick Content Updates for Big Impact
Ready to give new life to stagnant blog posts? Use these ideas to revive previously published content.
1. Write for the Featured Snippet
A featured snippet is an excerpt from a web page that appears at the top of Google search results to quickly answer a user’s question.
While Google’s automated systems determine whether to highlight a page as a featured snippet, you can optimize your content to improve your chances of landing this coveted spot.
- Include the question you answer as a header in your article.
- Answer it concisely as a paragraph, bulleted list, or table.
- Explain the answer in more detail in the article body for readers who click through.
2. Include the Latest Industry Stats & Best Practices
Have access to new data? Learned some great tips that you can share to boost the value of your blog post? Update your content to showcase the latest statistics and best practices. Not only does this demonstrate that you’re an authority in your industry, but it also builds trust with Google and potential customers. Visitors will learn to check your site first for the best information in your niche.
3. Enhance Content Value for Readers
Readers are more likely to stay on your site if you offer something valuable. This starts with written content, of course — your articles should contain useful, detailed information. You can then add complementary content such as video tutorials, checklists, and free resources like downloadable templates and guides. These branded elements aren’t just valuable to readers — they also help build brand awareness and serve as a reminder of how helpful your company is.
4. Update Graphics & Descriptions
Visuals are a creative way of updating your old content. At the very least, replace blurry or outdated pictures with attractive, high-resolution images. You can go a step further and create infographics, charts, and illustrations, which are useful ways to present and summarize content.
If you choose to add images, make sure to right-size them so they don’t hinder your page load speed. Also, don’t forget to optimize images with alt text. Alt text makes your site more accessible and also helps search engines understand the content. Use keywords when you write alt-text to boost SEO.
5. Convert the Article into a Listicle
Listicles are a popular format for online content. Readers know from the headline what to expect, such as “The 5 Best States for Retirement” or “10 Container Gardening Ideas.”
Listicles lend themselves perfectly to headlines with numbers, which are preferred by 36% of users, according to research by Moz. Not all articles can be written as listicles, but you may be able to refresh some pages into easy-to-read lists with catchy headlines that improve click-throughs.
6. Refresh Your Intro to Spotlight Your Blog Post’s Target Audience
The first few paragraphs of your blog post should engage readers and compel them to stay awhile. Rewrite your introduction if needed to pique your reader’s curiosity, showcase what you’ll be covering, and inspire them to read on. And don’t bury the lede — dive into your topic immediately. Add a note about when you originally published the post and when it was updated so visitors know how recent your article is.
7. Add a TL;DR
In-depth articles demonstrate your knowledge and expertise to search engines and readers. But, before diving into a long piece, visitors want to know if it will deliver the information they need.
Add a summary to the top of your article for readers who might think the piece is too long to read. Bullet-point takeaways or a table of contents with clickable section headers are both helpful options. Readers can absorb the main points or jump to a specific answer.
If you’re worried this will reduce time on page, don’t. You’re simply showing readers you care and helping them maximize the ROI of their visit.
8. Make Use of Schema Markup
Schema markup is a type of markup code that makes it easier for search engines to understand your website. It can be used to generate rich snippets, which display additional details like images, videos, star ratings, events, prices, and recipe cooking times right in SERPs and increase the likelihood of attracting a searcher’s attention.
How to Update Your Content
Ready to get started with your content update?
Approach your content refresh systematically to ensure there’s a purpose to every revision you make. After all, the goal of your revisions is to attract additional site visitors.
Identify Content that Could Benefit from an Update
Google Analytics (GA) provides insights to show how visitors engage with your website. This free tool helps identify underperforming posts that can be improved. Use GA to see which older blog posts:
- Generate little to no traffic
- Have experienced a drop in page traffic
- Have high bounce rates
Once you’ve identified some of these problems, you can decide how to maximize the potential of the content.
You can also run a content audit. This audit will not only help you find posts that would benefit from an update but also those that should be removed from your site entirely.
Pinpoint What Changes to Make
Now that you know which pieces to revamp, be strategic about wrangling them into shape so they’re effective for SEO and useful to readers.
Verify Search Intent
Google algorithms are designed to serve up web pages that help address why a user has chosen particular keywords. This is known as search intent. Searches may be:
- Informational: Users want an answer to a specific question.
- Commercial investigation: Customers want to research and compare products.
- Transactional: Buyers are ready to take action and want to determine where to shop.
- Navigational: Searchers want to find a specific page on a site, such as “Victorious SEO blog.”
It’s important to know the intent behind your keywords to best target your content. Does the search phrase “install artificial grass” mean the searcher wants to know how to install the grass or the benefits of hiring someone to do it?
Google is constantly trying to improve its user experience, thus they frequently evaluate the search intent for particular terms to make sure they’re providing the most relevant results for queries. While your piece may have aligned with search intent when you published it, it may have fallen out of alignment with the type of content Google is currently rewarding for the same term.
Plug the keywords you want to target into Google. If your article doesn’t align with the type of content that’s currently ranking, you need to adjust your content to better meet search intent or complete new keyword research.
Complete New Keyword Research
If the search intent on your target keyword has changed, you can reformulate your content to match the new intent or complete new keyword research to see if other keywords may be more appropriate based on your target audience.
Keywords can change due to industry trends and consumer interests. Use a tool such as Ahrefs to see what keywords your competitors are ranking for and decide whether you want to also target them. Free tools such as Google Trends can help you find new keyword ideas and potentially rank for them before your competitors do.
Learn how to do keyword research here.
Don’t feel like you need to shoehorn your content to fit a particular keyword, though. In some cases, low-performing content gets little to no traffic, not because the search intent is off or doesn’t use the right keywords, but because there’s just no real interest in the topic. Sometimes, our target audience just isn’t looking for what we think they should be looking for. If that’s the case, it may be better to prune the content than update it.
Identify the Best Format
Decide on the best way to share your new information. The insights gleaned from confirming search intent can shed light on how people want to consume your content. However, it’s crucial that you also put your own spin on it. If your competitors have created a list of ten ways to secure your data, you might want to focus on the ways you shouldn’t secure your data and why.
You can also take a look at your most popular pieces of content to learn more about how your target audience likes to receive information.
If you need support from other stakeholders, let them know so that you can create a plan to provide everyone with the information they need. For example, will you need new graphics or a quote from a subject matter expert?
Schedule & Implement Content Updates
Once you have an idea of what pieces can benefit from an update, estimate the time and resources needed to execute a content refresh. Use a content calendar to manage the roll-out of each piece and assign team members to execute the updates.
Optimize Your Updated Content
Once your blog post is revitalized, your final step is to position it for success by optimizing it for search engines.
Check Meta Description & Title
A meta description and title tag appear in SERPs to describe the content of your page and persuade readers to click through to your site. Ensure the page title and meta description accurately reflect the new content and contain your keyword.
Add or Remove Internal and External Links
Your content update offers the perfect opportunity to add internal links that bridge new and old articles. Internal linking guides both Googlebot and readers through your site. Internal links show Google how content is related and helps Googlebot better crawl your site.
Linking to related articles also keeps readers engaged. Link to relevant posts that help clarify your point and may provide additional value to readers.
Check your outbound links to make sure they’re still relevant. If they no longer add value to your blog post, remove them.
Logically structured pages make it easy for Google’s crawlers to understand your pages. Format your content with SEO-friendly H1 tags and indicate different sections and ideas in the body of your content with other header tags (h2, h3, etc.). These help to break up long chunks of text and make articles more user-friendly too.
Publishing Best Practices for Content Updates
We’re almost done! I have a few final details to cover to ensure you position your content for maximum visibility in search engine results.
Keep the Page URL
I don’t recommend giving updated pages new URLs unless absolutely necessary. The existing URL has already been crawled and indexed by Google and may have already garnered backlinks. If you update your URL, it will take time for Google to find it, index it, and rank it.
If you need to change the URL because it doesn’t use the blog post’s keyword, use a 301 redirect to send traffic from the old URL to the new one. You’ll also want to check your site to replace or remove internal links that point to the redirected URL.
Consider the Publication Date
Users are often drawn to recently published articles over older ones because they want to get the most current information. While articles that have been substantially overhauled can be given a new publication date, minor changes such as spelling corrections or a few changed keywords don’t warrant a new publication date.
Alternatively, you can place a blurb at the beginning or end of your article that notes the original publication date and the date of the update. This is common with articles that are regularly updated, like our annual SEO checklist.
Submit Updated Content to Be Reindexed
Once your page is updated and published, ask Google to recrawl the page. This is done through Google Search Console, which offers many tools to help you optimize your site for search engines.
Paste your URL into the Google Search Console URL Inspection Tool.
Once it finishes searching for your URL, click the ‘Request Indexing’ button.
As long as the page doesn’t have indexing errors, Google queues it up to be crawled and reindexed. Of course, Google will eventually find the updated pages on its own, but it’s faster to submit a request.
Create a Link-Building Strategy
Backlinks drive traffic to your site and show Google that your page is a trusted and reliable source. Updating a blog post or page creates new opportunities to build backlinks to your site.
Share your updated blog posts across your social media channels to increase your chances of acquiring backlinks. You can also engage in broken link building or partner with an SEO agency to develop a link-building campaign as part of your larger SEO strategy.
Combine your content updates with a link-building strategy to draw additional traffic to your new blog posts and increase their chances of ranking higher in organic search.
How to Measure the Success of Your Content Updates
Once you publish your updated content, track its effectiveness. Your measure of success will depend on your SEO goals, so be sure to identify the metrics that align with them.
It’ll take a couple of weeks before you see the impact of your content refresh. Depending on the changes you’ve made, you’ll want to monitor whether your updated content:
- Appears more frequently in organic search results
- Captures additional keywords
- Ranks higher for particular keywords
- Increases web traffic
- Leads to additional conversions or clicks
- Secures more backlinks
Keep in mind that it takes time for content to be reindexed and for your link-building strategies to have an impact.
I find it helpful to note the date an updated blog post is published with the annotations feature in Google Analytics. This makes it easier to identify the effects of your updated posts. Follow these steps to add a note to your GA.
Need Help Optimizing Content for Search?
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