Content marketing is something that does not have a statute of limitations. Search engines will show your old content to users, even though they are primarily focused on delivering fresher content. Therefore, the hypothesis that updating old material can bring you additional traffic and positively affect the image of the company deserves to be alive.
In today’s article, I will tell about how to work with old articles on the site, which should be updated and not. But first, I will clearly demonstrate the effect of updating articles on the blog I am currently working on.
Case of PRNEWS.IO
PRNEWS.IO is a PR content marketplace, a business in which the importance of content marketing cannot be overestimated. Therefore, we pay special attention to the blog and the ranking of our articles. At the beginning of autumn, we decided to update some of the posts which are poorly ranked. And today, I am ready to show you some intermediate results.
Before the update, we measured the following indicators of the article:
- The total number of keywords for which the article ranks.
- The number of backlinks to the article.
- Position of the article on search engine result page by specific keywords.
After the update, we compared with:
- indicators mentioned above;
- traffic per article for the same period last year;
- traffic for the previous 2-3 months.
Let’s consider one of the updated articles regarding the indicators mentioned above. The article How to Cite a Press Release — Do It Stylish was updated on September 20.
Before the update, the article was ranked for 48 keywords, including:
- How to cite press release apa – on the 7th position
- How to cite press release – on the 7th position
- Citing a press release – on the 10th position
As you can see, after the update, the article began to rank for 114 keywords. That is the total number of keywords for which our material takes up the first 100 positions in the organic SERP.
The changes are quite clearly visible on the graph from Google Analytics – precisely since September after the article was updated.
It is not very correct to compare traffic for the previous three months with the period after its update, because in this case, we do not take seasonality into account. But the chat is quite demonstrative:
Some marketers claim that it is more correct to compare traffic per article for the same period of time last year. This method is also not a very “clean” comparison for many reasons, but the result is obvious:
Anyway, we see a significant increase in traffic after updating the article. The very relevant keywords (for our material) appeared in the top 100 keywords.
So that you don’t think such results are a one-time case, I will quickly give you a few more examples of updated articles from our blog.
Article – How to Get Better Quotes for Press Releases
The situation before the update – the article ranks for 27 keywords:
After the update, there are already 69 of them:
We may see that the list of keywords includes completely relevant topics:
The article was updated in September 2022 and almost immediately we noticed an increase in the traffic chart and the number of keywords:
So, we have proven in practice that updating articles has a positive effect on the amount of organic traffic. Now it remains to find out how to update the articles correctly.
What materials should be updated
If you have a huge media resource, it is physically impossible to update all the articles on it.
Obviously, you should not update articles tied to a specific date or event. They have already lost their relevance forever.
I would start updating articles with:
- The most popular materials on the blog (here it is important not to harm, but just to update the information and add CTA where it is necessary). Pages with the maximum number of impressions for keywords, but a low CTR, deserve special attention.
- Articles that do not rank for the keywords they were written for (why should you leave low-quality content on the blog?).
- Articles that users do not read to the end (they send negative signals to search engines).
- Pages that have lost organic traffic even though they were ranking well before.
- Obsolete materials.
It is worth starting with strategically important materials for your business. Content marketing is not a cheap activity. So the funds should be invested wisely.
Strategically important materials are articles about your business or that explain the UVP of your business. Here, it is worth making the maximum effort to collect as much organic traffic as possible, if possible (if there is a demand). Of course, you can not jump above your head, the amount of traffic directly depends on the frequency of requests for which similar materials are written.
How to update old blog articles
I will say right away that there is no single recipe because the content is different and it is written for different reasons. What can be added to the material by updating it?
Maximum disclosure of the topic
First of all, you need to check whether you covered the topic well enough. It is important that the reader, who came from organic, gets all the necessary information while reading your article and does not return to the Google search page to “google” the topic. Review all the materials from the top issue. But I want to warn you against creating copycat content. You should not simply rewrite already existing topics, thereby cluttering the network with low-quality content.
It’s also important to understand that if you take the content of an article and replace it completely, your content will likely “sink”.
- we supplement the content, and do not rewrite it from scratch;
- add relevance for users (not only the text but also the meta tag – the year);
- add new keywords to the text;
- increase the volume of the text.
Surveys, research, collection of statistics
Try to add unique content to your article by conducting a survey or collecting some statistical data. Such content will be appreciated by both users and search engines. It can be updated annually, ensuring the relevance of your materials.
Search engines love expert content. Today, every marketer is familiar with E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness) – the principle by which Google experts determine the quality and effectiveness of search results.
So, comments from professionals are a fairly simple and effective method of increasing the expertise of an article. Services such as HARO, Qwoted, and Sourcebottle will be super helpful.
For example, this is what a request looks like in Qwoted:
And the answer to it:
Orchestrate your content
Any text, after it has “lived” on the site and collected statistics, must be worked on: add subheadings, images, infographics, lists, tables, graphics, etc.
Text without structure is poorly ranked by search engines, and this is a fact. Search engines consider such content to be low-quality and simply do not want to offer it to their users.
Look at the heat map of your article: if a sufficient number of people came to it organically, but after 2-3 paragraphs they do not read … then, most likely, the information is presented in such a format that it is difficult for readers to perceive.
Break it into smaller sentences and paragraphs, add lists, and visualize everything you can.
Video and audio
By adding videos, you will increase the time readers spend on the page. This is a positive signal for search engines.
There is an even easier option – to add an audio track with the text of the article. In this way, you will simultaneously extend the time spent on the site and make the consumption of your content even more convenient for users. For example, if your reader is driving, they can turn on the audio and listen to the article on the way home:
- Order dubbing of your material on Fiverr, Upwork, and through special services.
- Download podcast hosting (so you will also get additional backlinks).
- Use the embed function.
- The visual representation of the player can be designed to the style of your blog, or you can leave it as it is.
Here’s how it is done on the MasterBundles.com blog:
Markup of structured data
Google uses structured data to display content in the form of rich results. One type of structured data you can add to any material is the FAQ block.
The FAQ block will be displayed on the search engine output page, potentially increasing CTR. Here’s how it works in practice:
I select questions through Ahrefs – questions:
Don’t forget about SEO
Optimize the publication: check the META description, title, and keywords. Most likely, your blog is full of old posts in which you didn’t think much about SEO when you were writing them.
That’s you should:
- collect keywords from Ahrefs (which are not yet on the page);
- collect keywords for this page from Google Search Console;
- do research on the TOP ranking results for these requests;
- form the structure of the page;
- add a new text.
It is necessary to find and remove broken links and add new relevant ones for competent internal linking. Google’s Webmaster Help states:
“The more internal links that point to any page on the site, the more important it is than its other resources.”
Internal relinking is required for:
- transferring the static weight of the page to the advancing sections of the site;
- increasing the relevance of pages;
- acceleration of indexing of pages with a high nesting level;
- increasing the length of time a visitor spends on the site and the number of page views.
Add a brief list of content
A brief list of content of the article will improve UX and help your users navigate your site more easily. This is how smashingmagazine.com does it:
An old study from Netpeak says that just updating the publication date has a positive effect on the ranking of the article. Who are we not to take advantage of this?
What not to do when updating content
Change the URL of the article. For search engines, this will no longer be an update of the article, but the creation of a new one. For the same reasons, you should not use dates and years in the URLs of your articles. Someday you would like to update the article, and the year in the URL will get in the way.
Just add text for text’s sake. Or a rewrite of your competitors. Recently, my 7-year-old daughter tried to search for information on the Internet about why her parrot had lost its feathers and whether it is sick. The article she found was simply terrifying. The kid has read two pages of introductory words and fluff without getting to the point. When the user returns to re-Google, he sends the search engine a rather negative signal about your article. Don’t act like that copywriter who wrote about the parrots.
Content Marketing Platform
- 100,000+ media publications;
- get backlinks to your product;
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So update your old articles, and may the happiness be with you.