Raise your hand if you've ever scrolled to the end of your blog, only to cringe at the sight of old posts.
They seem… outdated, right?
Not to mention, these buried artifacts are probably not doing you any SEO favors.
But what if I told you there's a way to rekindle their shine and turn them into potent SEO magnets?
"How?" you ask.
Sit tight, because this blog post is all about how to update those old blog posts for maximum SEO.
Breathe life back into those forgotten pieces, and watch them climb the SEO ladder like never before.
Why update old content on your blog?
Remember that simply updating old blog posts is not enough. Ensure that you also promote the updated content through social media, newsletters, and other channels to maximize its visibility and impact.
Upgrading old content has many benefits, some of which are:
- Reusing old content that already ranks well can result in more ROI compared to publishing new content, as it takes advantage of the existing content's ranking.
- Forces Google to update the timestamp for your content in SERPs and increases CTR.
- Increased user engagement on your site.
- Increases earnings and traffic of your site, which also increases the total valuation.
Combining these benefits across multiple posts has a compounding growth effect on your site.
How Google analyzes freshness?
Google uses its Query Deserves Freshness (QDF) algorithm to determine the freshness of content based on the type of user query.
When you search for "best smartphones," you benefit from fresher content. Thus, this query deserves fresh results. Google assigns a shelf life to your content based on the keywords you are targeting.
Here are some niches and their probable content shelf life:
- Best smartphones – 1 month
- Best headphones – 5 months
- Best treadmills – 7 months
- Best SEO tools – 1 year
- Best supplements – 2 years
After the shelf life, the content will become outdated, and traffic will decline.
However, if you update and refresh the content, it can still rank well in search engines even after its shelf life has expired.
Also, you need to understand freshness score.
A web page is assigned a freshness score based on its inception date.
A document whose content is edited often may be scored differently than a document whose content remains static over time. Also, a document having a relatively large amount of its content updated over time might be scored differently than a document having a relatively small amount of its content updated over time.
According to the statement above, Google analyzes the degree of webpage upgrades over time. In other words, if the majority of a webpage is edited during an upgrade, it may receive a different ranking in Google.
Therefore, it is crucial to update the "modified date" in the byline after updating a webpage. This informs Google that the page has been updated and can affect its ranking.
The above statement also indicates that Google considers the freshness of both inbound and outbound links to an article when determining the overall freshness of the article.
We can also infer that if a high-authority site points to a webpage that is 10 years old, Google concludes that the old piece of content is still relevant and fresh.
I regularly carry out the content upgrading process for my affiliate sites. In fact, in a case study on freshness, I documented how I boosted search traffic by 57.02% in 2 months on an Amazon affiliate site by strategically updating the outdated content on my blog.
What blog posts to update?
Before updating your blog posts, it's essential to determine which posts to update first.
Start by updating old blog posts and those with less traffic. Focus on the top 20% of high-impact blog posts that have the potential to increase your traffic by 80%. By doing so, you'll make effective use of your time, energy, and budget.
You need to consider updating the blog posts that satisfy all the below conditions.
- Blog posts updated more than a year ago (or less, depending upon the content’s shelf-life)
- Blog posts with outdated information
- Blog posts that were getting good traffic but not now.
Go to Google Analytics -> Behavior -> Site Content -> All Pages. Here, add an "Advanced Filter" and only display pages that received less than 15 page views in the last month.
Next, consider either deleting these posts and redirecting them to the most relevant posts or updating them with relevant information to promote them and get a search engine boost.
You can also check Google Analytics for pages that used to receive good traffic but are now barely receiving any traffic.
These blog posts used to receive good traffic, but not anymore. Although they have proven to rank high on Google, their traffic has decreased due to outdated content issues.
Since these pages have aged, updating them can help them rank higher and drive traffic again.
However, it's important to note that declining traffic is not always due to outdated content.
It may also be due to:
- A sudden surge in competition
- A decline in search volume
Before updating your content, make sure that the decline in rankings and traffic is true because of outdated content. Or else you’ll be burning money and energy.
How to update old content?
Examine the way in which trends have shifted.
Revise older blog posts to avoid generic content.
Stand out with unique content – not only will your audience appreciate it, but so will Google.
Rewrite your title to signify freshness
The first thing you need to pay attention to is your title. It is the first thing that people see when they come across your webpage on SERPs or social media.
To show that an article is up-to-date, it's important to include specific keywords and terms in the headline. For instance, adding "AI" to the title can indicate that the blog post is recent and published post-2023!
You got it!
David Ogilvy said, "On average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy."
But how to craft one?
Check out some of these headline formulas.
- The 6-word rule (people read the first and last three words of a title)
- Spark a moment of surprise or curiosity
- Ask a question
- Be specific
🤖 You can ask ChatGPT to
Generate 10 captivating SEO blog headlines for [TOPIC]. Utilize power words and strong adjectives to make your headlines stand out. Experiment with different headline formats, like lists, how-tos, and questions, to pique your reader's curiosity.
Reconsider user intent and keywords
Since the publication of the blog posts, the user's intent may have changed or there may be new keywords worth targeting.
In these cases, it is important to reassess the topical intent and keyword research to ensure that the content meets the user's goals.
Additionally, the user intents addressed in the original post may no longer be relevant and should be updated accordingly.
For example, if you searched for 'site audit' two years ago, you might have gotten mostly articles, but now you'll get free tools along with articles.
You may want to reanalyze the top-ranking posts for a keyword and see if the intent has changed.
Also, make use of tools like Semrush or Ahrefs to research the questions you need to answer in your blog post. You may come across some additional keywords in your content, you need to address in your content.
Get a 30-day free trial of Semrush Pro plan. This offer is exclusively for our readers.
Identify topical gaps
When you're upgrading old blog posts, it's important to do your research.
Search for keywords on Google and analyze top-ranking blog posts to see what topics they cover that you may have missed.
Alternatively, you can use SEO tools like Frase or SurferSEO to automate the process of identifying gaps.
These tools use algorithms to determine the common topics covered by top-ranking blog posts that are missing from your own.
By identifying these topics, you can emphasize them in your upgraded post and ensure that you cover all the topics that Google expects in order to rank higher.
Personally, I use Frase to import my old blog post and compare it with other top-ranking articles for the keyword.
Frase then provides suggestions for better coverage to make my post more comprehensive and rank better.
⏳ If you are planning do this analysis manually, you may need to make use of table of content Chrome extensions like HeadingsMap or Smart TOC and manually analyze the outline of your competitor blog posts. I still do this often!
Reconsider word count
When upgrading old content, people often assume they need to increase the word count.
However, this is not always necessary.
Sometimes, shortening your blog posts can better address the audience's intent.
For example, if your post is 3000-5000 words long and answers all potential questions, readers may struggle to find the information they're looking for. This could increase the chances of them leaving your blog post, which is not ideal.
To avoid this, analyze the top-ranking articles, including their word count, and use tools like Frase or Surfer SEO to determine your ideal word count.
For example, Matthew Woodward initially wrote a 20,000-word blog post, but it didn't rank well.
Later, he made use of correlational SEO tools like Surfer and shortened the blog post to around 4,000 words to bring it within the favorable range with everyone else.
Now his article is ranking very well for the search query.
To sum up, increasing word count is not always the solution to your ranking problems. Intent is everything.
Remove or modify outdated content
When you publish a blog post, it's possible that some of the examples you used are outdated or no longer relevant in today's changing technological world. Similarly, if you review products or services, their features might change over time and upgrades could be introduced.
It's important to keep a list of all the changes that need to be made to the blog posts.
To make the process easier, you could use services like markup.io that allow you to annotate live web pages.
This tool is originally designed for web designers, but it can also be useful when collaborating with content writers and identifying which content on your articles needs to be upgraded.
You can visually comment on specific sections of your blog posts using this tool.
If you prefer, you could use WordPress plugins like MultiCollab, but be careful as they may slow down your WordPress code and work block editor. It's not recommended to use them.
Add fresh content
You need to add fresh perspective and information to your blog posts and at the same time, delete the outdated content.
Look for any new trends in the blog post topic you are updating.
Ask these questions:
- Are there any new case studies published regarding the topic ever since you published your blog post?
- Are there any changes or major news in the industry related to the topic of the blog posts?
- Are there any new inventions or discoveries being made on the topic of the blog post?
- Are there any newer versions of the products we’ve reviewed? If so, what specs we need to change?
- Are the product rankings order still accurate in the case of roundup posts? Is the #1 or #2 product we’ve featured still #1 or #2?
Asking these questions, take a look at other similar recently published articles on the web that are ranking well.
Just analyze in what way their content is better than your outdated content.
Now make the necessary changes in your post to make it relevant today.
👉 These are the exact questions we asked when upgrading the content on our Amazon affiliate site for our top 10 blog posts. By asking these questions, we were able to upgrade an average of 30% of the content over a span of 20 days. As a result, there was a 57.02% increase in search traffic within two months.
Correct typos, grammar and improve readability
Even though you proofread your articles before publishing, there are chances of typos. You may even have committed grammatical mistakes earlier in your blogging career.
Correct them while updating your old blog posts.
Finally, proofread your updated blog post.
Akshay strongly recommends: 7 Free Online Proofreading Tools for Better Blogging
Proofread the updated blog post MANUALLY; it is effective.
You may not have properly used the formatting tags.
On the other hand, your blog posts may contain cliches and unnecessary sentences. Remove them and update your posts.
Make sure to format your articles properly for those who skim. Use short paragraphs, include bullet lists, and add attractive images to improve readability.
Online readers typically scan text in an F-shaped pattern. Rather than read posts, they tend to scan them.
To make your content easier to scan, consider the following tips:
- Break up long, complex sentences into shorter ones: Long blocks of text are difficult to scan. To make your content more readable, break down long paragraphs of six or seven sentences into two or three.
- Use simple, easy-to-follow words: The words you use can affect how readers perceive your post. Avoid using overly complex or flowery language.
- Include keywords for optimized content: Use good keywords in the headline, body, and meta-description to make it easier for both readers and search engines. To draw attention to important phrases, consider bolding or italicizing them.
Include great graphics in your posts
Including graphics in a blog post is essential. A single attractive graphic at the beginning of an article can increase the chances of people reading your blog post.
You can create attractive blog graphics using online tools like Canva.
Blog posts with more images tend to rank higher in Google. While this may not be causation, it’s certainly a correlation.
Audiences tend to stay longer on pages with lots of images, as strategic use of images can reduce their cognitive load in understanding the content.
This sends a signal to Google that the page is relevant to them, leading to higher ranking.
With these statistics, it seems obvious that adding high-quality images and videos can improve your blog content with minimal effort.
Additionally, it's important to replace your old featured image. A fresh featured image garners more clicks on social media sites and when republishing on the homepage, which is crucial to increasing social media traffic to the updated blog post.
⚡ Power tip: Include short Loom videos in certain sections of your blog post where a visual demonstration is needed to explain a complex topic that cannot be adequately conveyed through GIFs or text alone.
Republish it with the current date
When you update the content on your old blog posts greatly (30% or more updation), you may consider republishing the blog post by changing the publication date in the WordPress post editor.
By this, the updated blog post again comes to the top of your homepage and it’ll expedite the Google recrawling process.
Alternatively, you can also make the blog post stick to the top of your homepage.
Don’t do it all the time. If your blog post is updated significantly, then you may consider republishing it.
Checklist for upgrading old content
This is a simplified version of an exhaustive checklist we use to upgrade our content.
- List down the obvious improvements to make reading our blog post
- Analyze commonalities among top ranking pages
- Identify important missing topics and ideal word count using Frase
- Check if there are factual inaccuracies and outdated content
- Optimize the article for SEO
- Create a revised outline and finalize the headline
- Write the blog post with the outline and markup open
- Optimize the final article again using Frase
- Do blog content editing with tools like Grammarly and Wordtune
- Add to Accuranker (for rank tracking) with a tag – “Q3 2023 – Content Upgradation”
How to promote recently updated old blog posts?
Get fresh links to your updated content
As previously mentioned, according to Google patent, "Fresher backlinks signal that an old web page is fresh and still relevant".
After updating and promoting your old blog post, it is crucial to obtain fresh backlinks to the newly updated post. When an authority site links to your updated post, it sends a strong signal to Google that your content is still relevant.
Here are some effective tips for building backlinks:
- Guest blogging
- White-hat SEO outreach
- Content repurposing
Additionally, consider adding more internal links to your updated blog post. This signals freshness and increases the crawl rate of the updated content.
After updating your blog post, you may be confident that it has the potential to provide great value to readers. However, why not extend its reach by repurposing it? By converting your blog content into slides, videos, podcasts, and infographics, you can reach a wider audience and promote your work more effectively.
Unfortunately, many bloggers underutilize this strategy.
Instead of focusing solely on creating new content, prioritize promoting your existing content through techniques such as content repurposing.
To get started, check out my complete guide on repurposing blog posts easily.
Akshay strongly recommends: Definitive Guide to Content Repurposing Process
Updated posts as widget
This is one of the great tips to increase the traffic to your newly updated blog post.
Create a widget that displays all your posts that are recently updated in the chronological order. For this, there are several plugins for WordPress like Last Updated.
With this, you gain additional traffic to your recently updated blog posts.
Readers who come to your blog in search of fresh information find the widget helpful.
It also alerts the loyal readers of your blog about the updated content.
Create roundup or ‘best of’ posts
Create a post like ‘top 10 posts this month’ or ‘top 21 posts from 2015’, publish and promote it widely. Include the links to your old posts. It increases the traffic drastically to your old posts.
Above is the example roundup post from ProBlogger. The post is visually attractive as they have included the featured images of all of their popular posts in a single post.
No reader will miss the chance to read all your popular posts of the year in one post.
These type of posts receive more interaction, shares and returns great value.
Add internal links
When you're updating old blog posts, you'll definitely be adding new content, which opens up new opportunities for internal linking.
So, once you've updated a post, it's time to look for other relevant posts that can link to it.
This way, you can get some good internal link juice flowing to your recently updated post, which will help speed up the crawling and indexing process.
To simplify the internal linking process, you can use WordPress plugins like Link Whisper. This plugin uses semantic analysis to suggest blog posts that can be linked internally
Updating old blog posts is an integral part of blogging. If you are in a pure evergreen niche or have a news website, it does not matter.
But if you are in a semi-evergreen niche, where content has some shelf life, updating the blog posts periodically is crucial.
As you’ve finished reading this blog post, I strongly urge you to head over to your blog post list or the Analytics, and update the blog posts that are outdated and not receiving any organic traffic.
Make sure to track the keyword rankings after giving the posts a revamp so that you stay motivated.
I hope you guys found this post useful. If you have any doubts, leave ’em below.