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Can updating old content improve SEO positioning?

Content Marketing

If you want to improve your website ranking and SEO positioning, you need to be creating entirely new content (and lots of different types of it) on a regular basis to feed the search engines, right?

That’s what all the experts say.

Well, yes, it’s true that the best performing websites are being updated regularly with educational, interesting content.

But coming up with new content ideas all the time is hard work, even for the most seasoned copywriters.

Have a read of this blog if you’re struggling to get over a bad case of writer’s block

Fortunately, you can make your life a whole lot easier by making better use of the content you’ve already got, by updating and combining bits of old content to create “new” content, that will improve your website ranking, and help with your SEO positioning on Google.

 

Even the best content gets outdated eventually

Remember a year ago when you wrote that epic 8,500 word guide on content marketing that generated a tonne of traffic and enquiries?

Well, that was a year ago and Google no longer sees that guide as the new, fresh piece of content on the block. Now your content is being replaced by the next big thing.

This content decay is a natural part of creating content. What was once fresh gets left out there for search engines to find and over time, newer, more relevant searches start to take its place.

Updating your old content with new figures, pictures and insights can give it a fresh start and tell Google that your content is revitalised and new again, and worth moving back up with search rankings.

Plus, it has the added benefit that you haven’t had to write 8,500 words from scratch again.

You’ve just cut away the older bits, buffed them up and replaced them with better pieces.

When you update your content, you’ll get a fresh boost in new traffic, plus you’ll still be getting some interest from search from when you published it the first time.

It’s a win-win.

So, how can updating old content improve your SEO positioning and get you more traffic?

 

Generate more interest

If you typed a search into Google (let’s say for SEO content strategy) and you were presented with two options, one from a few months ago and the other from a few years ago.

Which are you more likely to click on?

Content Marketing (and digital marketing as a whole for that matter) changes quickly so you need to be up to date with the latest tips and tricks.

Chances are a guide from a couple of years ago is already going to be out of date.

By updating old content with new information (while keeping much of the original structure to save time) you can increase the number of people who will click through to your content.

Think of it like a news story. How much more interesting are you going to be in something that is happening and impacting you now, compared to something that happened a decade ago?

 

Optimise for more relevant keywords

What terms and phrases people search for changes all the time.

Or maybe when you started out with content marketing for SEO you had the right topics, but didn’t target the right keywords.

Updating your older content gives you the chance to target what you’ve created at more relevant keywords and phrases.

Maybe the topic is still largely relevant, but now a slightly different variation of the keyword is generating more traffic from search?

All you have to do for this, is change the relevant information (like updating the title, meta description etc) and then change the publishing date to now.

Now Google will crawl the page like it’s brand new while you get to publish and promote this updated content to generate more interest.

 

Generate “fresh” content, way quicker

Whenever you update a page it’s a signal to Google that there is fresh content, which means when it’s crawled again, it will be indexed and ranked like a new piece of content.

Newer content typically gets ranked higher than older content (because Google wants to serve up the latest information) so your updated blog will get a push up search and generate more traffic.

One way to turn this into an SEO strategy in itself is to focus on creating some long form evergreen content that you can easily come back to year after year to change a few small elements and then put it back out as new.

 

Keep your site looking up to date

What’s the impression you get when you look at a company blog and see that they haven’t published anything for five months, and had only published twice in the previous two months?

Not good.

It looks lazy and like they’re made minimal effort with their own marketing.

By updating old content regularly, along with publishing new content, you can keep your site looking fresh and updated with less effort than it would be take to keep creating entirely new content.

 

Make better use of failing content

We all know that feeling of publishing a piece of content and then watch it flop and fail before falling into oblivion.

It happens.

But it might be that the failing piece of content is along the same lines as another piece of content which is proving much more successful.

In this instance you could simply combine the two pieces of content into a single, longer form piece of content – using the successful content as the dominant article.

 

Get rid of broken links (and acquire new ones)

Broken links on your website are something Google will punish you for, and most broken links are found in older content.

These broken links can happen for any number of reasons, but going back and updating content, removing links and replacing them with new ones will help improve your standing with Google and improve your SEO positioning.

 

Promote your new High Value Content

Just like you web copy, chances are the guides or resources you’ve been promoting within them have also gotten older and been replaced with fresher, more up to date models (if not, they should be).

Updating your old content gives you a chance to promote your new high value content, or point people in the right direction of more recent resources that they’ll find helpful.

You might also need to update your Calls To Action on your site.

 

Add new types of SEO content

Have you started doing video, or creating more visual types of content rather than just writing blogs.

If you updating your old content by adding this new visual content can give it a much fresher appearance.

Maybe reading back through the content you find it’s just block of text, after block of text.

Just updating it with images, pull quotes and breaking up long paragraphs can improve the readability of your content and improve its performance.

 

Re-promote your content

Content promotion is a major part of a content marketing plan, but you need the new content being created to push out over social media and other channels like email.

Having your company push people towards content that is years old isn’t the best look.

But updating the outdated parts of your content and re-promoting it can get you through those periods when you’re struggling to create entirely new content from scratch and keep your content promotion active.

Google will still judge your content to be new and fresh and it can help with improving your SEO positioning while you create new content in the longer term.

 

Use old content to identify trends

If you publish content with lots of stats, or you create original research reports as part of your content marketing or for thought leadership, you can lean on your old research and look for more updated stats to identify changing trends and create new content around that.

It makes your older content more relevant again and provides much more interesting insights than just pushing new stats.

 

Your old content is an SEO goldmine

Ultimately updating your old content and repurposing it can provide a massive boost to your SEO efforts.

You don’t have to struggle with coming up with new article or content ideas all the time.

Just take some time to identify which content you have created in the past that could become useful again with a bit of polishing.

 

But, which content should you update for your SEO content strategy?

Before we go, we thought it would be useful to help you pick which bits of content you should update.

These are the things to look for:

    • Content that performed well previously but has dropped off – typically this is because the content became outdated and Google either stopped ranking it or people stopped clicking through because they thought it was old. By updating old stats and pictures and changing the date you can present this content as new again.
    • Content that has started to rise in popularity again – If you had content that is starting to see more traffic after months or years of stagnation, it could be that the topic has become relevant again. (Check Google Trends data to see if this is the case). For this content, just make sure you have new stats, figures or quotes, or that your CTAs and links are pointing to the right things.
    • Poor performing content with a similar theme to a successful piece of content – If you have a piece of content that isn’t performing well on its own, try and find another piece of better performing content that you can attach it to, to create a more authoritative, long form piece of content. The successful content will pull the poor performer further up the rankings.

 

Updating your older content can become a big part of a wider SEO content strategy and help improve your SEO positioning. Read our full guide to creating an SEO content strategy here

Want to talk through your SEO and content marketing strategy to see how you can improve it?

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