If you have been writing and publishing blog posts for a substantial amount of time, you likely have a full inventory of articles that are in need of some kind of refresh. Older posts are typically the culprit for content containing outdated text, inaccurate information, bad links - and so on. More importantly, these older URLs are rapidly declining in search rankings, driving less traffic, and generating fewer conversions by the day. Together, we’ll unpack how to quickly update and optimize your older blog posts that are no longer contributing to your performance on search. With only a few steps, you’ll be well on your way to fresh content that is working smarter for your business.
Why Spend Time On Old Blog Posts?
Pumping out new content is great, don’t get me wrong. (And don’t stop doing it!) However, if there were a way to multiply your search engine optimization (SEO) impact through content with little effort, you’d do it, right? Of course you would! The reality is that you can generate even more results by freshening up the content that already exists on your live website. The older posts that have been sitting in your backlog for two or more years most likely haven’t even been touched by you since their original publish date. Let’s start by looking at what you already have.
Here are a few situations in which you’d want to prioritize updating older blog posts:
- Even if you aren’t actively checking in on these older articles, there’s still a chance that they’re being found by some of your target audiences. You want to make sure that what you’re posting is accurate and truly reflects the current state of your business and brand initiatives.
- Do you have older posts that are generating a good percentage of organic traffic to your website? Great! It’s time to magnify that success by accentuating the stronger portions of that piece. This will ensure your article is in tip-top shape to keep doing exactly what it’s doing!
- On the flip-side, do you have older posts that are underperforming on search engines? Don’t delete them just yet - you may already have some authority for the given URL! Chances are, there are still ways to utilize the work you’ve done in the past so you’re not starting from scratch with a new blog.
Coming up with new ideas can be super time-consuming. It just does not make sense to let the time, money, and resources spent in creating content go to the blog graveyard, never to be seen again. Prevent content decay! While you can repurpose any blog post that you’ve previously published, you’ll want to start by prioritizing the articles that fall into one of the scenarios provided above. If it does, you’ll want to be sure that the post is at least six months old. However, depending on how frequently you are publishing new content, it may be best to stick with something that’s over one year old.
What Does Google Like to See?
Before you dive into the editing portion, there are a few research methods that will help you out when considering exactly what edits need to be made. When you’ve identified the URL needing the facelift, start by searching for the title of the blog in Google. Scroll through the first page (at least) of search results and open up the ranking websites. Take a look at the formatting used for that specific blog post. For example, if all of the articles that are ranking in the top 5 search results have their content in a list format and yours is not… change it.
Next, look at the type of keywords that Google is using in the description or snippet text. What words are used in the title, specifically? What questions can you identify that are being asked about the subject? What do the related searches look like? By investigating several of the top-performing posts for your same topic, you’ll begin to notice a trend in what Google likes and prefers to see. Now that you’ve jotted down these notes, you’re ready to jump into the meat of the process.
How to Update the Content in Old Blog Posts
1. Fix the Obvious
Start by quickly scanning the post for immediate areas of opportunity. Ask yourself these questions:
- Does your blog post have a clickable title? Does it utilize a main keyword?
- Are there any other missed keyword opportunities?
- Does the introductory paragraph describe what the user is about to read?
- Are embedded videos and supporting graphics loading okay?
- Are there typos or grammatical errors that need to be corrected?
- Do your images have alt tags that include the relevant keywords with explanatory text for readers needing special assistance?
- Are your links working? Are there newer blog posts that you’ve published that you can now include in this post?
- Are there any dates mentioned that need to be updated? In the future, you can prevent this by excluding time-specific information.
- Is there a clear call-to-action (CTA) included that is relevant to the blog copy?
- Does the content meet the user’s search intent?
2. Rework the Format
Now you’ll want to take a look at the formatting of your blog post. Reworking the format will help to improve readability and is an important step in the process. Start by breaking up large blocks of content into smaller paragraphs. Perhaps your information would be better suited in a numbered or bulleted list format. Your text should be organized according to an information hierarchy. Meaning, your most important content should be closer to the top, while your supporting text can be situated towards the bottom of the page. Ensure the use of headers and subheadings throughout. We like to see good use of H2s through H6s in the body copy of your post to help the reader quickly scan and find what they are looking for. Rearrange as best you can to help guide the eyes of the reader down your page.
3. Promote and Re-Share
The time has finally arrived to share your ‘re-creation’ with the world! Do whatever you can to gain traffic or links back to your newly polished post. Some of our favorite methods include posting the blog on social media or including it in a manual email to your subscribers.
Best Practices for Updating and Republishing Blog Posts
To help you get off to a great start, we’re offering a few best practices for you to consider before pressing the “Publish” button on your new post.
Utilize Free and Paid SEO Tools
There are many free and paid SEO tools out there that can help strengthen your research and provide multiple avenues of supporting data. Google Search Console is a free tool that reports on your site’s search traffic and overall performance. Likewise, SEMRush is an additional site health tool that many marketers use for competitive research, traffic analytics, checking backlinks, and more. Ahrefs is a powerful SEO tool for link building, keyword research, rank tracking, and site audits. You will have to set up paid accounts for SEMRush and Ahrefs, but for the information you’ll have access to, either would be a valuable investment for your business.
Keep the Same URL
Even if you decide to update the title of your blog post, you’ll want to keep the URL slug the same. By modifying the URL, you are removing some of the link value that has already been built from the blog that is living on your website. Remember, Google loves older links but wants to see fresh content. You don’t want to erase your pre-existing SEO value by changing the URL.
Add an Editor's Note
For any LAIRE blogs that our team has updated, you’ll see a small note at the bottom of the post to explain the changes. As a standard, we’ll write: “This post was originally published on Month Day, Year and was updated on Month Day, Year for accuracy.” This small sentence will help add transparency to your post and could help alleviate any potential confusion for a reader.
Update the Meta Description
Don’t neglect your meta description in the midst of all of this change. Best practice is that your post’s meta description is under 160 characters. Google will use this snippet to help tell an audience what your content is about, so make sure that it is sufficiently descriptive and utilizes your main keyword phrase.
Track Your Performance
The most exciting part of all of this is being able to see the fruits of your labor! Keep a tally of where your post stood before your additions and be sure to check back in on the post in a few months to see where you’ve grown. This way you can understand how your updates have affected the overall performance of your blog post and give you a better idea of what posts you may need to target in the future.
Content matters a TON to Google. More than that, freshness matters to Google. Utilize these steps to incorporate updated blog posts into your blogging strategy. At LAIRE, we call this process of making your content work smarter, ROPS, which stands for rework, optimize, publish, and share. We ROPS every single week as part of our own blog growth strategy, and it has been a huge success for increased conversions. If you’re interested in learning more about fine-tuning your current content marketing strategies, check out our free workbook.