Google loves fresh content. This is especially true for hot topics or recent events, regularly recurring topics, and anything else that might be time-sensitive. Even evergreen content that is updated once in a while gets priority treatment in the search engine results pages (SERPs).
What does this mean for you and your blog?
It means that if you have old posts that are starting to get a little stale, it’s time to give them a refresh. Updating old blog posts can be a great way to bring in new traffic, and it’s also a good way to show Google that your site is active and relevant.
In this extensive guidebook, we’ll cover everything you need to know about updating content, including:
- Why you should update your old blog posts
- How often you should update your old blog posts
- How to decide which blog posts to update
- What kinds of updates to make to your old blog posts
Let’s dive right in with a closer look at why you should update your old blog posts.
Benefits of updating old content
We can divide the benefits of updating old blog posts into two main categories: SEO benefits and business benefits.
Search engine optimization (SEO) has become the go-to buzzword in recent years when it comes to marketing your business online.
And for good reason, too. After all, what’s the use of having a website if no one can find it?
SEO is all about making sure your site appears as high up as possible in the SERPs for relevant keywords. And one of the best ways to improve your SEO is by regularly updating your content.
Here are the two most important SEO benefits of updating old posts:
- Increased website and blog traffic – When you update an old post, it often gets bumped up in the SERPs, which means more people are likely to see it and click through to your site. Of course, it’s not just any old update that will do the trick. You need to make sure your updates are relevant, interesting, and add value to the post. More on that in a bit.
- More backlinks to your website – A backlink is simply a link from another website to yours. The more backlinks you have from high-authority websites (think: Wikipedia, Forbes, The New York Times, etc.), the better. When you update an old blog post, people who have linked to it in the past may decide to update their links to point to your new and improved version. People who haven’t linked to it before may also be more likely to do so if they see that the post has been updated recently. Backlinks are surefire way to prove to Google that your site is authoritative and worth ranking highly.
There’s no doubt that your business will directly benefit from better SEO and search result visibility. However, there are also some indirect benefits that come from updating your blog posts.
- Increased brand authority – By refreshing your old content and keeping it relevant, you’re showing your audience that you’re an authority on the topic. This, in turn, will help to build trust and credibility with potential customers.
- Improved customer engagement – If you can get people to read and engage with your blog posts, there’s a good chance they’ll be more likely to do business with you in the future. After all, they’re already interested in what you have to say!
- More helpful content – If you make the right kinds of updates, you can also make your content more helpful, informative, and engaging. This is sure to please both your readers and the search engines, as it is in line with the recent Google Helpful Content Update.
In short, a comprehensive content marketing and blog update strategy can do wonders for your business, on all fronts.
How to update old blog posts
Now that we’ve gone over some of the reasons why you should update your old content, let’s take a look at how to go about doing it.
Right off the bat, you should be aware that this can be a big undertaking, depending on how many blog posts you have and how outdated they are.
But let’s start at the beginning.
Conduct a blog content audit
A content audit is a necessary first step in any content strategy, but it’s especially important when you’re trying to figure out which blog posts to update.
A blog content audit is basically a thorough examination of all the content on your blog.
For this, you will need an analytics tool from which you can pull data on things like organic traffic, number of backlinks, social share hits, etc. Some popular SEO tool options include Google Search Console, Google Analytics, Semrush, and Ahrefs.
You will also need a spreadsheet where you can track all this data, as well as other important information about each blog post, such as title, publish date, word count, etc. Google Sheets will work just fine.
Once you have everything set up, it’s time to start going through your blog posts one by one and auditing them.
Here are the main things you should be looking at:
- The URL of the post
- The publish date
- The organic search ranking over time
- The average monthly traffic over time
- The number of inbound links (links from other websites)
- The number of social interactions (social media shares, likes, etc.)
Add all of this data to your spreadsheet so you can refer back to it later.
The purpose of this audit is to collect data that will help you determine which blog posts are worth updating and which ones you can safely leave as-is (or perhaps even delete, if they’re really not doing anything for you).
Now, let’s move on to the next step.
Decide which blog posts to update
Once you have all the data from your content audit in front of you, it’s time to start making some decisions.
From our experience, there are three priority levels you should use when deciding which blog posts to update:
- High priority – These are the posts that are pulling in the most traffic, have a decent number of backlinks, and with which your customers engage with the most. It might sound counterintuitive to make these blog posts priority 1, but the simple fact is that they’re already working well, so you want to make sure they continue to do so.
- Medium priority – Also known as posts “within striking distance.” These are blog posts that are ranking just below your high-priority posts (pages 2-5 in Google, for example). With a bit of optimization, they could be ranking much higher. These are the posts that hold the most potential for growth.
- Low priority – These are the posts that really aren’t doing much of anything. They might get the odd bit of traffic from direct visits or social media, but they’re not ranking high in Google search, they don’t have many backlinks, and people generally don’t interact with them much. You will have to pick and choose which of these you want to keep and work on, and which serve no purpose and can be removed from your website altogether.
Use the information from your content audit to determine which blog posts fall into each category, then start making a list of the ones you want to update.
Remember, you don’t have to update all your old blog content. Just focus on the posts that will have the biggest impact on your business.
And with that, we move on to the final step.
Update your blog posts
Now that you know which blog posts to update, it’s time to actually do it.
When you sit down in front of each post, there are a few questions you should ask yourself:
- Is all the information in this post still accurate and relevant? If not, delete or update any outdated information. If there are any statistics, make sure they’re from the most recent data available.
- Are there any new developments in this post’s topic that you can add? Any new perspectives or info?
- Is the post well-organized? Do the headings and subheadings make sense? Are there any big chunks of text that you can break up into easily digestible lines?
- Do the title tag and meta description contain the relevant keywords? Are they compelling and likely to make someone want to click on the link?
- What about images, video, and other forms of visual media? Do you need to add any new ones? Are the existing ones still relevant and accurate?
Aside from all that, there are a few other things you need to pay attention to:
- Search intent – Search intent refers to what a person is looking for when they type a particular query into Google (or another search engine). When you’re updating a blog post, you need to make sure that it still aligns with the search intent of the original keywords you targeted.
- Links – Internal and external links can break, so it’s important to check that all the links in your post are still working. If you find any broken links, update or delete them as appropriate. Furthermore, ensuring your links are high quality and relevant is key to a strong SEO strategy.
- Keyword research – Your blog post should still be targeting the same keywords as before, but you might need to tweak them slightly to reflect any changes in search intent or new developments in your industry. Consult your content strategy to see if there are any new keywords you should be targeting.
- Original value – One of the most important things to remember about quality site content is that Google values originality. That means no plagiarism, no duplicate content, and no repurposing existing content without adding anything new. If you want your blog post to rank, you need to make sure it’s offering something new and valuable that other posts on the same topic don’t have.
Different blog posts will require different levels of work, but this comprehensive approach will ensure that each one is updated effectively.
Remember to analyze the top ranking blog posts for each keyword you’re targeting to get an idea of what Google is looking for. Use that as a reference point when you’re working on each individual post.
Bonus tip: After everything is good and done – after you’ve updated the content, optimized it for SEO, and checked for any broken links or outdated information – don’t forget to update the publish date! Marking your updated blog post as newly published indicates to Google (and other search engines) that the content is relevant and up-to-date, which can help improve your keyword ranking.
How often should you update older posts?
Finally, we come to the big question: how often should you be updating your old blog posts?
To properly answer this question, we need to remind ourselves that SEO is a marathon, not a race. Once you post something, it can take anywhere from a few days to a few months for it to start ranking in search engines.
With that in mind, we’d say that once you post something, you probably don’t need to update it for at least six months. After that, you can start to think about making small tweaks here and there as needed.
Of course, if there are any major developments in your industry or changes to search intent, you’ll want to update your blog post more frequently. But for the most part, a minimum-of-six-months timeline is a good general guideline.
A content audit might have to be performed more frequently (we recommend once per quarter) if your blog is very active, but for most bloggers, a semiannual content checkup (and potential refresh) should do the trick.
More details can be found in our post on how often you should update your content.
There you have it – a detailed guide on how to update your old blog posts. By following the tips and advice in this post, you can be sure that your blog content is always fresh, relevant, and optimized for SEO.
Don’t forget to come back and update your posts on a regular basis, as well as perform a content audit at least once per quarter.
At the end of the day, remember that the main purpose of your blog should be to inform, educate, help, and serve your audience. Keep that in mind as you work on each and every post, and you’ll be sure to create content that packs a punch.
If you’d like to know more about SEO and how to optimize your blog posts, be sure to check out our other blog posts on the subject. And if you have any questions or need help with anything related to website content, feel free to reach out to us – we’re always happy to help!