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How To Decide Which Old Blog Posts To Update?

How To Decide Which Old Blog Posts To Update

Updating old content on your blog – regardless of the purpose of your blog (whether it be for business, personal, or something else entirely) – can be a great way to improve your site’s overall quality. Not only does it show that you’re keeping up with current trends (which builds trust with your audience), but it can also help improve your search engine rankings.

It is invaluable for search engine optimization (SEO) of a website almost as much as creating new content.

But how do you decide which old blog posts are worth updating? If you have a lot of site content, it can be tough to know where to start with the content optimization.

What you’ll need

Before any actual decision-making can take place, you need to gather data. This data will help you determine which blog posts are actually worth your time – and which ones aren’t.

For this, you will need an analytics tool, such as the free Google Analytics and Google Search Console or any of the paid options available such as Semrush (our personal favorite) or Ahrefs.

You also need a complete list of your blog posts. Manually creating one in a spreadsheet is possible, but if you have a lot of content, it might be better to use a tool that will do it for you.

For each blog post you need the following information:

  • The URL of the post
  • The publish date
  • The average monthly traffic over time
  • The organic search ranking over time
  • The number of inbound links (links from other websites)
  • The number of social interactions (social media shares, likes, etc.)

Essentially, before you can decide which blog posts to update, you need to conduct a content audit. By analyzing your blog content in this way, you can get a clear picture of what’s working and what isn’t.

Once you have all this data at the ready, it’s time to start prioritizing.

Priority 1: Top-performing posts

You may think that if an old blog post is doing well, there’s no need to update it. 

We couldn’t disagree more.

Precisely because a blog post is generating a lot of traffic, you must ensure that it is the best it can be. After all, first impressions count – and if a post is bringing in a lot of traffic, that means it’s one of the first things people see when they visit your site.

Here’s what to look at to identify top-performing posts:

  • High traffic volume – indicates that there is clearly interest in the topic
  • Good keyword ranking – means that people are finding the post through search engines
  • A large number of social interactions – shows that people are sharing the post with their networks
  • A good number of inbound links – indicates worthwhile content that other websites are linking to

Even if your blog post only has one or some of these factors, it’s still worth investigating whether or not an update is needed.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is all the information in the post still accurate and relevant?
  • Is there anything you could add without making the post too long or bogged down with details?
  • Are there any new perspectives you could bring to the topic?
  • Could the post be better organized?
  • Are there any broken links (links that are no longer working)?
  • What about statistics that need updating?
  • Could the title tag or meta description be improved to generate even more traffic?
  • Could additional images or videos be added to make the outdated content more useful?

If it’s been a while since you’ve updated a post, it might be worth doing a fresh review. Sometimes, all it takes is updating content by adding a sentence or two – or even just changing a headline – to make a big impact.

Priority 2: Posts “within striking distance”

What we mean by “within striking distance” is relative to your individual goals and objectives.

For some sites, a blog post that ranks on page 2 of the search results may be within striking distance. For others, ranking on page 5 may be good enough. It all depends on your specific goals and the competitive landscape of your industry.

Here are some suggested criteria for posts that are “within striking distance”:

  • Ranks on page 2-5 of the search results
  • Has a reasonable amount of monthly traffic
  • Has some inbound links, but could use more (or it has none at all, in which case it would absolutely use more)
  • Has very little or no social shares

What we’re aiming for here is to find blog posts that are close to ranking on the first page of the search results.

These may require more extensive updates than those in priority 1, but the effort is likely to be worth it given the potential payoff.

When updating priority 2 old blog content, in addition to looking at all the factors we mentioned for top-performing posts, you should also consider:

  • Search intent – is your existing content addressing the needs of searchers? Compare it to the top-ranking posts and see if there’s anything you could change to better match searcher intent.
  • Keyword research and usage – are you using the right primary keyword throughout the post, including in the title, meta data, and body copy? Furthermore, are there any keywords you could be targeting that you’re not? Consider your content strategy and make sure your updated post aligns with it.
  • Original value – is your post offering something unique that other posts don’t? If not, can you update old content to make it more original? Add your own perspective, share original data, etc.
  • Internal links – are you linking to other relevant posts on your site? And, more importantly, are other posts on your site linking to this one? If not, you may want to strengthen the internal link structure of your older posts.
  • External links – are you linking to high-quality, relevant sources? If not, update your links to point to more reputable websites.
  • Content length – does the content piece need to be longer or shorter to rank better?
  • Images and videos – could adding or changing these help the older content rank better?

There is no doubt that updating these types of posts takes more time and effort than priority 1 posts. But, if you can get even one or two of these “within striking distance” posts to rank on the first page, the updated blog post could make a big difference for your blog traffic.

Priority 3: Underperforming content

What does ‘underperforming’ mean?

In the context of this exercise, we’re talking about old blog posts that:

  • Have very little traffic
  • Are not ranking in the search result pages at all (or are way down on page 10+ of SERPs)
  • Have no inbound links
  • Have no social interactions

In short, these are the posts that are not generating any results – traffic, leads, or conversions.

Before going in and updating these posts (most likely by writing them from scratch), you need to first decide whether the effort will be worth it. In other words, whether you want to keep the post or delete it.

Does this old post align with the overall goals and objectives of your blog?

If not, then it’s probably best to delete it. There’s no point in pouring time and effort into a post that isn’t going to help you achieve your goals.

If it were to rank higher, would it provide any real value to your blog and/or business?

You may want to consider updating old blog posts if you think they could provide some value – even if it’s just a small amount. But, if you don’t think it would make much of a difference, then you’re probably better off deleting them and starting from scratch.

There is nothing wrong with deleting old blog posts that you find no longer fit with the trajectory of your blog. In fact, it’s probably a good idea to do some housekeeping from time to time and get rid of any posts that are dragging your blog down. Google’s algorithm prefers fresh content anyway.

Updating an underperforming post is likely to require a complete rewrite. But, if you can turn it into a high-quality new post that provides value to your readers, it could be well worth it.

As you rewrite, don’t forget any of the previous content advice we mentioned for top-performing and “within striking distance” posts.

Conclusion

Deciding which old blog posts to update can be a tough call. But, if you take the time to assess each post individually, you should be able to make a decision about whether it’s worth updating or not.

In general, you should focus on updating old posts that are top-performing and that have the most potential to generate traffic and lead to conversions. These are the posts that are most likely to have a positive impact on your business.

As for underperforming content – you will need to decide on a case-by-case basis whether it’s worth keeping it. If you think a post has the potential to provide value, then it may be worth rewriting it from scratch. But, if you don’t think it would make much of a difference, then you’re probably better off deleting it.

Want to revamp your blog into a high-traffic powerhouse? Contact us at WP100 for more information on how to update content!

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