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Update Content: How to Refresh Your Old Content and Improve Google Rankings

update content

You could be missing a lot of opportunities if you are just letting your old content sit around. In this post, we will explain why and how you should consistently update content to boost traffic and improve SEO with minimal effort.

When we think about content marketing strategy, most often we only think about conducting keyword research and writing new blog posts.

But what about all your old and underperforming blog posts? Those content that you’ve created months or years ago but is not ranking on the search engine 1st page. 

The reality is getting into top rankings on Google’s 1st page is a really tough spot, with over 200 site-wide factors influencing how your content ranks. However, that does not mean that there’s no hope. 

Truth is content ages like sweet wine. For content to rank high for your target keywords, it doesn’t happen overnight. Most often it would require time and consistent updates and optimization to push it to top rankings. 

According to a study done by Ahrefs that looked at 2 million pages to answer the time it takes for content to rank in Google, they found that only 5.7% of pages ranking in the Top 10 search results happened within a year from its publishing. 

Ahrefs ranking performance of pages within 1 year from "first seen"
Image Source: Ahrefs

Majority of them took at least 2 to 6 months before they appeared in Google’s Top 10 rankings for their target keyword. Then again, this is just 5.7% of 2 million pages. Almost 95% of pages didn’t make it to the Top 10 within a year,  

Besides, in the very same study, Ahrefs also found that the average age of the pages in Google Top 3 rankings is at least 800 days old, which means the content has been around for at least 2 years. 

If anything, we hope this study tells you one thing and that is your URL age can be a valuable asset, but that is given if you constantly update your content to keep it fresh and valuable.  

Why should you update your old content? 

1. Do more with less

Updating old blog posts is becoming an increasingly popular content marketing tactic adopted by many content marketers and that is simply because you can achieve more with less. 

Honestly, it takes a lot less time to rework on past blog posts than it takes to create a brand new one from scratch. With your existing content, you have already done all the research and got all the important points down in writing. Now it’s just a matter of updating and optimizing it. 

Besides, the payoff makes it more than worth it. 

Content marketing powerhouse Hubspot, for example, has released statistics showing that refreshing their old blog posts has helped boosted the content traffic by as much as 106%. 

Do more with less - content update
Image Source: Search Engine Journal

More importantly, less time spent on new blog posts means more time in other marketing aspects, like improving your conversion funnel or sales page. 

So the trick here is to find your balance in both content creation and content update efforts altogether to truly unlock the potential traffic of your blog posts. 

2. Google has a favorable attitude towards fresher content

Then, there’s also the matter of how search engines work. Search engine robots will periodically crawl your site content to determine the quality and relevance of your site. 

When you update your post, you are also telling Google that your content is regularly updated and you will get a spike in traffic that makes the tiny amount of work well worth it. 

Google Freshness update
Image Source: SEOPressor

Keeping your content fresh in the long run can also help improve your visibility in the search results, and in turn, generate noteworthy traffic results.

3. Boost keyword ranking results for your content

Keyword research is the backbone of any SEO strategy. Yet, a keyword or phrase that used to be popular a year ago might not be receiving the same amount of search volume today. 

Updating your content then presents a great opportunity for you to update your keyword strategy and reoptimize your content every now and then. Take the chance to include additional keywords in your content to score some multiple keyword rankings. 

Over time, consistently revisiting and updating your content will help create evergreen content that lasts which further establishes your website as the topic authority. 

4. Renew your content life cycle

It’s shocking but your content has an expiration date. 

Content expiriy
Image Source: LinkedIn

No matter if it is the insights, statistics, or examples, you need to be responsible and make sure your content is always up-to-date to drive traffic to your post continuously.  

Not taking action and failing to update your content is not an option. As it can reflect poorly on your brand — making your audience question your reliability and if you actually care enough to provide accurate information.

Besides, when you update your content, you are also breathing new life into your old content as you add new information, new ideas and rewrite sections venturing deeper into the topic with your newfound experience. 

This is often what high-quality content is made of, as your content stands out differently which will naturally contribute to your rankings.

So rather than publishing hundreds of new blog posts every month, and chasing all sorts of keywords. It’s just as important to update your content to keep it relevant… but how?  

Which old blog posts should you update?

If your website has been around for a while, you might have hundreds of existing blog posts you can rework on.

At first, this might seem like a herculean task. But instead of working on all of them at once, it’s best to plan and work on them as a project in intervals.  

Realistically, you are simply not going to have enough time to optimize and update every single blog post. To make the best use of your time, you need to prioritize and focus on the few contents that will most likely have the biggest impact. 

In other words, you need to update only the blog posts that have existing traction and are ranking for keywords that have high traffic potential. 

To find these potential older posts, you need to conduct a content audit and some keyword research. 

Using Google Analytics, you can review all the existing content on your website and access the individual traffic performance of each blog post.

Identify older posts that have previously performed well but are now steadily decaying. 

We are talking about traffic performance that looks something like this…

Blog posts with decaying traffic
Image Source: Moz

These are most likely content that was once successfully ranking in the Top 3 spots or featured snippets but is now seeing declining organic traffic due to a drop in rankings. These blog posts show the highest traffic potential and would most likely bounce back after some revision. 

Aside from this, there are also other low-hanging fruits you should also aim for, which are:

Blog posts that almost rank high

You probably have some old content that is ranking high on page two of Google, which is what we SEOs often called the best place to hide a body. 

Google 2nd page
Image Source: Photofruse

And nothing could be closer to the truth. It’s very rare that users would click on the next page to find their answers. But then again, keyword rankings on Page 2 are highly desirable here because you can easily update your content to go from Page 2 to Page 1.

Using BiQ’s Rank Intelligence, you can easily uncover your website’s keyword rankings on Page 2 by searching for your keyword ranking positions #11 to #20. At the same time, make sure you also set a minimum search volume of at least 100 monthly visitors. 

BiQ Rank Intelligence

We call them low-hanging fruits, and they are blog posts you want to update and optimize to bump them up to the First Page of Google.

Articles that are ranking for evergreen keywords

On the other hand, another scenario to consider is the keywords your content is gaining visibility for. Do a quick search on Google Search Console to see the keywords your  URL might be showing up for and check them on our BiQ’s Keyword Research tool. 

BiQ Keyword Intelligence

Essentially, what you want to look for is the trend and intent of the keyword to determine if they are worth optimizing for the long-term. In any case, you want to avoid trend keywords and focus on evergreen keywords instead that have a decent search volume. 

You also want to make sure you are on the lookout for any featured snippet opportunities. Clicks aside, featured snippets are superb branding opportunities and can be easier to target by rewriting your paragraph in a way that answers the queries’ direct question. 

To find if your ranking keywords present featured opportunities, you can just refer to the “SERP Features” column in your BiQ’s Rank Intelligence for a quick glance.  

SERP Features” column in your BiQ’s Rank Intelligence

Articles that are out-of-date

Would you prefer to read something that is published in the last year or an article from 2006? The answer is obvious, dig out those really, really old articles and give them a quick update. 

If it’s evergreen content, you don’t need to change it entirely. Sometimes all you need is to add a quick update section to make your content more usable and helpful for your audiences. 

Take for example this article by Gizmodo on Google abusing its power. 

Content update
Image Source: Neil Patel

Save your updated content with a new publication date and when Google crawls your site again, you will most likely see a boost in your search engine traffic. 

On the other hand, you want to be on the lookout for any of your blog post headlines that have a year in them, like for example our article here below. 

Digital Marketing Strategies 2021

While digital marketing strategy is an evergreen keyword, we created this blog post targeting those who are looking for more up-to-date digital marketing strategies in 2021. 

Despite being relevant today, we need to make sure to update this blog post every year to make sure it remains relevant. 

Articles with high traffic but low conversions

Last but definitely not least, you also want to look for your blog posts with high traffic but low conversions. Remember, your ultimate goal is to convert your traffic into leads. 

So make sure you update your blog posts to have a clear call-to-action (CTA), whether it is directing them to your landing page or your opt-in message that offers a valuable guide.

However, if you are a younger website and find the majority of your blog posts receiving only a few monthly visits. In this case, your best solution is to combine several related posts into a longer cornerstone content, and then 301 redirect the URLs to the new combined page.   

How to refresh old content?

There are many approaches to updating your old content, some content marketers just make small revisions by simply updating the headline and a few sections. Others go all out and actually rewrite the entire post. 

However, with the selection of blog posts we have filtered out to update, we would suggest you avoid making big changes since these blog posts are already ranking high for your keywords. Instead, it would be enough if you go through this checklist of actions. 

Use a Quick Content Update Checklist

Image Source: Marques Construtora

To extend the life of your blog content, we suggest using a quick checklist as a reminder of the content update best practices you need to follow, and here’s ours: 

  • Reassess your title and meta description against the Top 10 ranking results. Is your click-through rate good compare to your impressions? 
  • Update your on-page SEO elements (title, meta description, image alt text, etc.) with your target keywords.
  • Rewrite your intro and conclusion to include your primary target keyword.
  • Delete or combine any weak or irrelevant sections.
  • Replace any irrelevant stock images with more informative visuals
  • Replace any examples or references with new, current ones
  • Update old data with new statistics or more relevant information
  • Check for grammatical errors and revise lengthy, complicated sentences
  • Check through all your internal and external links to make sure the content that you’re linking to is working and accurate.

As a whole, you also need to update your content to make sure it answers the search intent of your target keyword in a direct manner.

Additionally, you can also reoptimize your content using BiQ’s Content Intelligence. By simply inserting your content’s URL and keyword, our tool will check your WordVector analysis and compare it against the Top 10 rankings in SERP to let you if there are any content gaps.

BiQ Content Intelligence

The tool also offers a section-by-section analysis that allows you to have a quick overview of your sentiment analysis and readability, as well as where specifically do you need to include your keywords. 

So depending on your article, some maybe just a quick fix or it may take a full rewrite. But once you think your content is in good shape, republish it and update the post date but take note not to change the URL link. 

SEO Tip: Even though your blog post is targeting one specific keyword, you might want to also include other related keywords to encourage multiple keyword rankings. Doubling down on these keywords can most likely increase the organic traffic to your page. 

Promote Your Updated Blog Posts

Once your content is updated, your next step is to promote it across your brand social media accounts and send an email broadcast to let your users know you’ve updated the content.

This will get some initial traffic and give it an extra boost. 

Keep Track of Your Keywords Rankings

Let’s be honest. Not all updated blog posts will perform exponentially well right after an update. Some might still see their traffic remain flat… or the worst possible scenario might even have you seeing your traffic take a downturn.

That’s why it’s especially important that you track the keyword rankings for your content updates using BiQ Rank Tracking. 

BiQ Rank Tracker

It allows you to add your keywords and URLs which makes it easier to track given that reoptimization and updating your content can be an ongoing process. 

Using tags, you can also more easily organize your rank trackings according to specific details like when you update it and the specific changes you made to see what really works.

In addition to tracking your URL ranking for a specific keyword, you can also check your URL rankings with BiQ Rank Intelligence every month to see if you are now ranking for any brand new keywords.

When you have the ability to track progress and pinpoint success to action, you can replicate the process if it is working or make adjustments to your strategy if you’re not getting the results.

Remember updating your content is an on-going process and the trick is to look for patterns of what’s working and what’s isn’t.

Key Conclusion

You don’t always have to reinvent the wheel and create new blog posts or articles to push your content strategy forward. 

Updating your content is just as impactful in boosting your traffic and improving your SEO and with the right way, it can be the strategy that moves the needle. So kickstart your blog update project to breathe new life into your older posts today. 

About Vivian
Vivian is an anthropologist lost in the world of digital marketing. She has an interest in learning about the science of marketing and the creativity that businesses use to transform themselves into purple cows.