Finding new keywords and publishing new content regularly is a tough job, but the good news is that’s not the only way to increase your organic traffic.
Instead, you can also update older blog posts that are not bringing any substantial organic traffic and improve their search rankings.
In this beginner’s guide to updating older content, we discuss how to pick the right blog posts to update and share a few ideas on how to actually update the content to improve its SEO rankings.
How to select the right blog posts to update
Most content pieces are updated to improve their search engine rankings. The assumption is that the content isn’t good enough to beat the top pages ranking on the SERPs.
However, just updating a post does not guarantee positive results. Here are at least five points you must consider before picking a blog post for content update.
- Older pages. You should not update a page that was published just a couple of months ago and expect massive improvements in search rankings. Web pages often take time to mature in terms of SEO and rankings. Ideally, you should pick pages that were published more than 12 months ago.
- Not a backlink issue. Will updating a page improve its search engine rankings and push it to #1 in the SERPs? It may if the current lower ranking isn’t because of fewer backlinks. Therefore, check how many backlinks the top pages in the SERPs have, compared to your page. For example, if they all have 50+ backlinks, and your page is ranking at #9 with 2 backlinks, it is most probably a backlink issue. In this scenario, updating the content will likely not improve its search rankings.
- Evergreen content. Is the page still relevant? If it is not, there is no point in updating that page. Ideally, you should only update evergreen content pieces.
- High-volume keywords. You don’t want to spend hours updating a blog post to reach #1 and get only ~30 more traffic visitors. Only pick posts that target keywords with high search volume.
- Only mid-performing pages. If a page is already ranking in the top 3 positions, updating the content will only yield marginal improvements in traffic. Most of the time, that’s not worth the effort.
10 ideas for updating older content
There are several things you can do when you are updating an older web page or blog post. Here is a list of 10 ideas for updating older content that would generally apply to most pages:
1. Combine mid-performing pages
If you have been blogging for a while, you will likely have a few similar mid-performing posts. These posts bring a bit of organic traffic, but not enough.
Depending on your exact scenario, it may be a good idea to combine and consolidate these mid-performing pages into one comprehensive post — the post you are updating.
Consolidation of pages combines the SEO juice of all pages into one, making that one page easier to rank in the SERPs. It also solves possible content duplication and keyword cannibalization issues.
2. Improve keyword optimization
Whenever you update an older blog post, make sure to conduct thorough keyword research. Then identify a few good keywords and keyword phrases to add to your post.
Make sure the important keywords are added to the body text, subheadings, meta content, and the title of the post.
3. Include more subheadings
It is often a good idea to divide your content into multiple H2 and H3 subheadings. It improves the user reading experience and also opens more opportunities for strategic keyword placement.
Adding new subheadings also means you’re adding new content — which is a key component of content updates.
4. Update older information and broken links
This is one of the most important things you can do when you are updating older blog posts.
The purpose, after all, is to provide up-to-date information to your readers.
Therefore, make sure that your updated post does not redirect users to broken links or pages with outdated information. Also, make sure your own page isn’t still referring to outdated research or studies.
5. Include “people also ask” questions
The “people also ask” questions that we often see at the bottom of the search engine result page change with time.
Adding the latest questions and answering them is an excellent way to rank in the SERP featured snippets. It is also a proven way to get some high-volume search keyword phrases in your content.
6. Improve keywords and search intent based on Google Trends data
Over time, it is possible for the searchers to change their search intent. It mostly depends on the niche.
Moreover, it is also possible for Google to change how it evaluates the search intent of a possible keyword. For example, if Google displayed an article at the top of the SERP for the keyword phrase, “what is accounting software?” in 2015, but it now displays a few videos, it indicates a change in Google’s evaluation.
You will have to adjust accordingly.
At this point, it is also a good idea to use Google Trends data and see whether the interest in certain keywords is increasing or decreasing over time.
Being strategic with keyword optimization — based on Google Trends data — may future-proof your content for a longer period of time.
7. Add new images and infographics
You should also update product and app photos in your article.
If you have a web-based product, such as a web dashboard, you might want to see if your post still has outdated screenshots.
Sometimes, the post is just using an older version of the image that is graphically outdated. However, even if that is not the case, it is a good idea to analyze each product image to see if it still displays the right information, e.g., date and year.
Lastly, whatever images you update, make sure to add keyword-rich alt text for each image in the post.
8. Update meta content
After you update the post, don’t forget to update the meta title and meta description.
Add new keywords and optimize the meta description for a higher click-through rate (CTR). Dive into your Google Search Console and Google Analytics data to identify pagers with higher CTR and take inspiration and ideas from them.
9. Add new internal links
It is also important to update and add new internal links while you are updating the page.
Make sure you are directing readers to the most up-to-date blog posts, articles, and resources. If you have a new product feature, it is important that your post does not refer to the older version or feature set.
10. Improve the formatting or layout of the post
Lastly, analyze the format and layout of your page and see if you can improve upon it.
It is always recommended to divide your content into shorter paragraphs and sentences, use lots of subheadings, and present your content in bullet points and numbered lists whenever possible.
After all, nobody likes to read a huge wall of text with no breaks or sections.
Make it easy for your readers to consume your content, which should improve the on-page time and other relevant engagement metrics.
Updating older blog posts is an integral part of any successful content marketing strategy. Almost every content marketer does it, but implementing the right ideas and picking the right posts can make all the difference.
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