When it comes to SEO, businesses often view fresh content as a perpetual wave of new articles. But if you’ve been building up your content library over the years, chances are you don’t need more content, you just need to give some attention to your already existing, high-performing content.
Updating the blog posts you already have can be just as, if not more, effective in driving more traffic to your website. So the question is: How often should you update your content (and why does it matter)?
In this post, we’ll look at the benefits and practices that go into identifying and revising existing content that – and this is key – used to perform well.
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Why Fresh Content Matters in SEO
Google’s algorithm takes into account more than 200 ranking factors, one of which is content freshness:
Updated content signals to Google that the information is current, relevant and therefore deserving of a higher search ranking. If Wikipedia has taught us anything, it’s that staying updated can earn you a seat at the VIP table, i.e., Google’s first page.
Remember the last time you searched for something and stumbled upon an article from five years ago? How did that feel? Probably like opening a time capsule. Outdated information can lead to a poor user experience, which is the antithesis of what Google aims to provide. Users are on the hunt for the most current and relevant information, be it news, how-to guides or product reviews.
Fresh content satisfies this quest for relevance, ultimately improving user engagement metrics like time-on-site and click-through rates. And guess what? Google loves that too!
By keeping your content up to date, you’re not just staying ahead in the SEO game, you’re also outshining your competition. Updated content is more likely to answer current questions and solve current problems, giving you an edge in a fiercely competitive digital arena.
The ROI of Updating Content
Creating new content does bring in traffic, but it also has its drawbacks.
For instance, focusing solely on new content may lead to older articles becoming obsolete, causing them to lose traffic. On the other hand, updating existing content not only revives it, but also makes it more relevant, leading to higher search rankings and more clicks. In essence, you’re getting more bang for your buck.
Think of it as renovating a house. You already have a solid foundation and structure, so every couple of years you just need to freshen up the paint, fix the creaky floor or install new kitchen sink fixtures. In the same vein, your older articles have a foundation: the research and the initial rounds of content optimization and promotion.
Updating these older, but still relevant articles, means:
- Refreshing outdated information
- Adding new data points or sources
- Deleting/combining any weak sections
- Optimizing for current SEO standards
- Incorporating feedback from user engagement
By updating, you’re avoiding the cost of creating a brand new piece while still giving your content a new lease on life. According to a HubSpot study, updating old blog posts can increase traffic by up to 106%. Better yet, Google often sees updated content as more relevant, pushing it higher up in search rankings.
It’s a win-win situation: you’re spending less and gaining more in terms of visibility and engagement.
How Often Should You Update Old Content?
Determining the frequency of content updates is a subject that confounds even the most seasoned SEO experts. It’s a nuanced affair — like crafting the perfect cup of coffee. Too little, and you’ve got something too weak to make an impact; too much, and you might just overbrew it.
So, how do you strike that perfect balance?
The old adage “set it and forget it” has no place in the ever-evolving realm of digital content. If you’re serious about keeping your web content top-notch, it’s essential to adopt a proactive approach toward updating it. And yes, that means the work doesn’t stop once you hit “publish.” Far from it.
The frequency at which you should update old blog posts can vary, of course, depending on the nature of the content and the performance of the content. So take this as a rough guide.
- When to Update Content:
- At least once a quarter for rapidly changing topics.
- At least once every year for topics that do evolve but not as quickly.
- At least once every 18-24 months for posts where the general topic doesn’t change drastically, but you still want to update links, dates, images/screenshots, examples.
- Performance-Based Updates:
- If an article is showing a steady decline in traffic over a several-month period, it signals a need for an update.
- Posts that get the most traffic or regularly rank on the first page of the SERPs can be updated on a regular basis throughout the year (just keep your eye on its performance).
What’s great about this strategy is that it’s devoid of arbitrariness. You’re not shooting in the dark; you’re taking calculated shots based on data.
Decaying Content as an Opportunity for Revision
While Google Search Console is a staple instrument for gauging performance, additional content optimization tools can also provide insights into which articles are losing traction. Such a tool can:
- Increase your chances of ranking higher on search engines
- Include Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) terms that you might not have added in your content
- Discover relevant topics along with the topic density
- Identify relevant long-tail keywords to include in your content
- Recommend keywords into your title tags and meta descriptions
- Optimize the headline of your content to improve keyword relevance score
- Update word counts and topics in real-time
- Compare your content with similar content pieces to identify any gaps or missed topics
- Add FAQs by using a powerful question finder
- Identify content where topics are overused or underused within the corpus of results
By focusing on these decaying articles, you can rejuvenate them, thereby enhancing their ranking and visibility.
Some might think of decay as something negative, but in the context of content, recognizing decay is your first step toward transformation. Think of it as a content renovation. Just as you would replace worn-out tiles or repaint faded walls, sprucing up your aging content can bring a new sense of vitality and relevance.
Last Thoughts on Turning Old Content into Fresh Content
Fresh content doesn’t have to be brand new. It can also mean updated and refreshed. And no, you don’t have to abandon the creation of new content altogether. It’s about making sure that while new content takes the front seat, existing content isn’t thrown in the trunk.
So the next time you consider adding another new piece to your website, pause for a moment. Could your older pieces benefit from a refresh? Do they have the potential to attract more traffic if updated?
With a well-rounded approach that includes both creating new and updating existing content, your website can become an evergreen garden of valuable information. And who wouldn’t want that?
If you’re ready to increase your traffic and conversions, Single Grain’s content optimization experts can help!👇
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