If you’ve been publishing content on your blog for a while, you likely have old posts that are lacking quite a few things. The content may not be as accurate anymore, some posts may be missing internal links to newer related posts, and it’s very likely a lot of those posts no longer align with your current content guidelines.
If that wasn’t already a bummer, they’re also declining in search rankings, driving less traffic, and earning less revenue.
That’s why having a solid strategy in place for updating old content is so important for your blog.
In this article
- Why update old blog content?
- Choosing which blog content to update
- How to update old blog posts
- When to update old blog posts
- Get started updating your old blog posts
Why update old blog content?
Build brand trust and reader loyalty
Readers are searching for the solutions that your blog can provide. Having those solutions be the most up-to-date, best version they can be means you’re serving your readers high quality content. If many readers are landing on your old, outdated content, they may not perceive your blog as the best source of information, and jump to the next site.
Keeping content updated will show readers you’re not just pumping out new content and neglecting the rest. Instead, they’ll see that you’re sharing helpful content that’s accurate, up-to-date, and providing them value that they can trust.
Having a trusted blog is one of the best ways to get more backlinks. Other sites aren’t going to link to outdated content. The more current your content is, the more likely other sites will point to you as a trusted resource.
Update for current SEO practices
Keeping up with Google’s search algorithm changes can feel like a fulltime job. Best SEO practices from 3-5 years ago aren’t going to be competitive today. And there has likely been enough changes in the past year alone to see a few of your top ranking posts knocked around in search results.
When updating old content, it’s a good idea to look at specific areas of the post itself, and align them with what Google is looking for. Things like proper heading structure, post structure, internal and external links, and optimized videos and images. Google uses these in their ranking factor, so you’ll want to ensure your posts include them.
As a result of these SEO-driven updates, key posts that are on the edge of ranking well for a keyword could start to show improved search rankings. Even just a few conversative updates may be the thing that nudges them higher in search results, driving more traffic and increasing revenue.
Work smarter not harder
Working on new content can be very time-consuming. A smart way to lighten the load is to add blog post updates to your content calendar. Instead of producing new content for very similar topics, it may be worth refreshing the content you already have so it’s the best, most comprehensive resource someone can find when searching for that topic.
Choosing which blog content to update
Below are some suggested guidelines to help you choose posts for your updating strategy. It’s important to note that the results you see after updating content will also depend on other outside factors, like how long you’ve been publishing content and how much traction your site has.
The ones that need a little nudge in the right direction
These posts are ready to be your star players, they’re almost performing well for high-volume searches, and should be top candidates for updating.
When choosing these types of posts to update, it’s best to target posts that are between your high and low performers (meaning, they land somewhere below the top 3 results on the first page, or anywhere on the second page of the search results). These posts are likely to have the best opportunity for a boost in search traffic with the right updates.
To find these posts, you can use a few different SEO tools to look at the search volume of your posts (tools like Ahrefs, Semrush, and Google Search Console). Sort your posts by volume and look at the ones with the highest search volumes for a specific keyword that aren’t ranking higher than position 4, and no lower than ~ 20. They should also have high search impressions for a specific keyword.
These posts are strong contenders and have the best potential for increased search rankings by updating their content.
The ones that recently started losing traction
These posts have started dropping down in search rankings within the last 90 days or so. Some may have a reasonable explanation; maybe the post is seasonal, or a viral topic that’s now weining.
But what if it’s something you can take action on? Things like fixing broken links, updating the post structure, or optimizing images?
That’s what we want to find out when digging into these types of posts. Once you’re able to identify the reason traffic has started to dip, you can spot the ones that have the best potential for improvements.
The ones you leave alone
Yes, it’s true. Not every post needs an update.
It may be tempting to chase the #1 search ranking position if your post is already in position 2 or 3. However, it’s already in good company, why tempt fate? Making updates could actually jeopardize its ranking in search, and get it kicked out of the elusive top 3 club. Clearly you’re already doing something right! As the saying goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Additionally, make sure you have a reason to update the content. Just because it’s old doesn’t mean it isn’t still valuable for your readers. If the content is in good shape, still aligns with your brand, and serves your audience, there’s no need to mess with a good thing. A few keyword tweaks may be all you need.
How to update old blog posts
In our post 5 great ways to organize, manage, and optimize your content, we cover a lot of ways to approach content updates. We share examples of different types of tasks to complete when updating a blog post, and how to organize those tasks into Projects in Clariti for an easier way to manage all your blog updating to-do’s.
We also show a sneak peek into Pinch of Yum’s Clariti strategy, and what type of content they’re currently targeting for updates. Be sure to check that out for inspiration!
After choosing which posts to update, you will want to create checklists of all the updates and optimizations you will want to implement in your posts. Checklist items may look different from blog to blog depending on what types of posts you’re updating and how long you’ve been blogging. To get started, it might help to work off a suggested standardized blog update checklist.
A few task items you might find for a standard blog update are:
- Add/review heading structure
- Add internal and external links
- Add/optimize images
- Add/update alt text
- Check for broken links
- Add/review schema markup
When you’re ready to start checking items off your to-do list, there’s a few things to keep in mind:
- There are two ways to deliver the updates on your blog. A substantial update that improved many areas of the blog post would be a great option for republishing. This means you’ll also update the original publishing date so that the post shows up at the top of your blog again. A simple update that only required a few tweaks can keep its original publish date and place in your blog’s archive.
- Updating the publish date without making any changes won’t improve search rankings. Google’s crawlers won’t see a difference in your content, which means it won’t have anything new to offer search queries. Only republish posts to the top of your blog if you’ve made significant updates.
- Make conservative changes on higher ranking posts. The closer to the top search results in Google, the less likely you’ll want to make big changes in those posts. The further down the search results, the more room you’ll have to change things up and see what strategies work without facing major negative impacts.
- Remember that your content is meant to serve your readers, not Google. It’s tempting to go heavy on an SEO strategy when updating your content, but your readers are the ones who will use your content and convert into loyal fans of the brand that keep coming back for more. It’s a hard balance, but something to keep in mind as you’re working through old content.
When to update old blog posts
Every blog’s strategy for when to update old content will differ.
A good place to start is to go through your blog updating strategy once a quarter and select the posts you want to update.
This will allow you to include blog post updates within your content planning strategy, as well as provide a balance between new and updated content so you’re not leaning too far into one and neglecting the other.
Get started updating your old blog posts
Building out your blog’s content takes many hours of thought and planning. The goal is to see it make an impact on your business. No other strategy has as large and as quick of an impact as updating existing content. It takes very little time (compared to when you originally created it), and delivers results so much quicker.
Clariti provides a one-stop shop to house all your post updating efforts so you can stay organized while making impactful updates to the right posts, and track those changes over time.
Do you have some favorite content updating tips you love and want to share? Let us know in the comments below!