Do you like to boost your organic traffic without publishing new content?
Then you are in the right place.
If you are spending your valuable time updating the old blog posts for freshness you'll enjoy increased traffic, readership, and also you'll save money spent on creating new blog posts.
In this blog post, I'll explain to you exactly how you can drive traffic to your old blog posts by strategically upgrading them for freshness.
Why update old content on your blog?
Do you know that pages that are there in Google’s index for a very long time have high ranking power?
You’ll be wasting that ranking power if you ignore updating the content on it.
As a blogger, you know how hard it is to create new content and rank new pages on Google. It just takes a lot of time depending upon your site’s ranking power.
However, when you update old blog posts that are already old in the eyes of Google, you get a sudden ranking boost.
I’ve seen this over and over again both for my BloggingX posts and as well as other niche site content.
As you might have come across, Google displays the freshness of the content in its SERPs to help users determine the freshness of the post.
If you update the older blog posts, Google will take the modified date and display it in the SERPs.
Thus, your blog post will get higher CTR in SERPs.
As an amateur blogger, you might have committed many mistakes.
Sometimes, you might have written shallow posts without knowing about the topic. At the beginning of your career, when you write about things you don't know, your blog posts may have the wrong information.
As your blog becomes older, so your experience.
There are even scenarios when I look at my older blog posts and laugh shamefully!
You need to consider getting rid of those shallow posts altogether or consider updating them with fresh information.
The moment your visitors notice that your blog content is outdated, they bounce off the blog. They don't bother to dig up further.
Guess what? You will miss loyal readers!
Updating old content helps to keep those visitors hooked with your blog.
Google determines how fresh the content should be, based on the type of the user query.
A web page is given a freshness score based on its inception date. Older the blog post or a webpage becomes, it will become stale in the eyes of Google for some niches.
Google also takes account of the frequency of updating of web pages and gives freshness scores accordingly.
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.
By the above statement, I can say that – ” Google also analyzes the extent of upgradation of web pages over time”. In simple words, if the nearly entire webpage is edited on upgradation, then it may rank differently in Google.
By this, I can say that updating the “modified date” in byline after the webpage has been updated, matters a lot. It is essential to tell Google that the webpage is updated.
The Freshness of the links pointing to the webpage
Document S may be considered fresh if n% of the links to S are fresh or if the documents containing forward links to S are considered fresh.
Some content has a special nature that it will be evergreen even when the time lapses. In order to determine what type of content, Google looks at the freshness of the links pointing to the web page.
If a high authority site points to a webpage that is 10 years old, then Google concludes that the old piece of content is still relevant and fresh.
I regularly carry out the content upgradation process for my affiliate sites. In fact, in a freshness case study, I've documented how I boosted search traffic by 57.02% in 2 Months on an Amazon affiliate site by strategically upgrading the outdated content on my blog.
If you’re not in an evergreen niche, your content has some shelf life, after which the content will be decayed.
You need to determine shelf life of your content. If you are in a niche like psychology, most of your content will be evergreen.
Here are some niches, and I’ve assigned a 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 be decayed, and the traffic will stall.
If you manage to breathe in new life to these posts, they rank exceptionally well than new posts.
What blog posts to update?
Before going ahead and updating the blog posts, it's very essential for you to determine, what posts to update first.
You should update old blog posts and also posts with less traffic.
Always remember that you should update that top 20% of high-impact blog posts that have the ability to increase your traffic by 80%. By doing so, you will be making 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
In order to find the blog posts, that have not been updated in a while you need to sort the published/modified date by ascending order. Now the posts that are very old on your site will appear first in the list.
As you can see in the above screenshot, I've made use of the domain search modifier – “site:example.com” and added the date filters to let Google only show the old indexed pages of our site. So, you need to consider heading to these outdated blog posts, make the necessary updates and signal Google that the content is fresh.
You can also check for blog posts that are not getting enough traffic, and consider pruning them or updating them with fresh content.
Head over to Google Analytics -> Behavior -> Site Content -> All Pages. Here you need to add “Advanced Filter” and only display the pages that have received say less than 15 page-views in the last month.
Now, you need to consider either deleting these posts (and redirecting them to most relevant posts) or updating them with relevant information, and thus promoting them to get a search engine boost.
You can also head over to Google Analytics, look for the pages that were getting good traffic, but now hardly getting any traffic.
These are some blog posts, that were receiving good traffic, but not now.
They already have proven to rank higher on Google, but only due to outdated content issues, the traffic has been tanked.
These pages are already aged, it means that if you manage to update them, they easily rank higher and drive traffic.
However, the decline in traffic is not always due to outdated content.
It may be due to:
- A sudden surge in competition
- A decline in search volume
So, you need to make sure that the decline in rankings and traffic is indeed due to outdated content before hopping on for updation.
How to update old content?
Examine the way in which the trends have changed. Change the older blog posts so that it does not look like generic blog posts.
Be different. Everyone loves unique content, even Google also.
The first thing you need to pay attention is to your title. It is the first thing that people see when they come across your webpage on SERPs or on social media.
As advertising master, David Ogilvy said, “On an average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy.”
Make your headlines catchier by checking out some of these headline formulas. These include:
- 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
Check it with Headline Analyzer, which will analyze the power of your title and gives you suggestions on how to improve it and score better:
It’s often advised to come up with 4-5 headlines before finalizing one. Some seasoned copywriters even come up with 20-30 headlines before finalizing one!
Ever since you published this post, the user intent would have changed. Or there may be new recent keywords that are worthwhile targeting.
So in these cases, you need to reconsider the topical intent and keyword research and make sure you include the content that *accomplishes the goals of the user.*
There may be new questions relating to the more recent trends or developments, you need to answer them in your blog post.
Or the old user intents you addressed in your blog post may no longer be relevant.
Make use of tools like SEMrush or Ahrefs* <link to their reviews> to research the questions you need to answer in your blog post.
Tools like SEMrush uncover you dozens of questions you may want to cover in your blog post.
You may also want to make use of their “SEO Content Template” feature to get good SEO suggestions in optimizing your content.
Get a 30-day free trial of SEMrush Pro plan. This offer is exclusively for our readers.
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 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.
While updating content you need to task
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.
Proofread the updated blog post MANUALLY, it is effective.
You may not have properly used the formatting tags.
On the other hand, you may have included cliches and unwanted sentences in your blog posts. Remove them and update the blog post.
Make sure that the article is formatted properly for skimmers. Make sure that the paragraphs are short, include more bullet lists, attractive images, and so on.
Online readers typically scan text in an F-shaped pattern. They don't typically read posts, they scan them.
- Break up long complex sentences into shorter ones: Remember that long blocks of text are hard to scan. Convert long paragraphs of six or seven sentences into two or three.
- Write simple, easy to follow words: The words you use can also affect how your readers perceive your post at first glance. Avoid using overly complex or flowery language.
- Include keywords for optimized content: Include good keywords in the headline, body, and meta-description to make it easier for both readers and search engines. I tend to bold and italicize the important phrases that act as “guides” for the readers.
Graphics should be included in a blog post. A single attractive graphic at the beginning of the article increases the chances of people reading your blog post.
It gives the impression that the post is fresh.
You can create attractive blog graphics using online tools like DesignBold, Visme, Canva and also Stencil.
Blog posts with more images tend to rank higher in Google. Although this may not be causation, it's certainly a correlation.
The audience tend to stay longer on pages with lots of images in it. Thus it sends a signal to Google that the page is relevant to them and ranks you higher.
With these statistics, it would seem obvious that by simply adding high-quality images and videos, you have a sure-fire way of improving your blog content without putting too much effort into it.
You need to also replace your old featured image. Because, when you are promoting the revamped blog posts, if you have a fresh featured image, it garners more clicks on social media sites and also while republishing them on the homepage.
I think, at least for me, having a fresh featured image is crucial to garnering more social media traffic to the newly updated blog post.
As I said earlier, Google patent said that “Fresher backlinks signal that an old web page is fresh and still relevant”.
After you finish updating and promoting your old blog post, it's very crucial to get fresh backlinks to the newly updated post.
When an authority site links to your newly updated post, it gives a fat signal to Google that your content is still relevant.
Here are some of the effective tips for you to build backlinks:
- Guest blogging
- White-hat SEO outreach
- Content repurposing
You can also consider adding more and more internal links to your newly updated blog post. It also signals freshness and increases the crawl rate of the newly updated content.
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.
It’s often quite a time-consuming job to update the old posts. You need to create upgradation reports with all the things that are outdated and needs to be changed, and then carry out the process.
I have seen that some people include the current year, some numbers like (top 10), etc. in their permalink or images.
With this, if you want to upgrade the content later, it’ll be quite tough to change them.
If you have a date-specific permalink structure, change it to only /post-name/.
Another thing to consider is when you have the current year or month in the title of your blog post, make sure you change it on time.
Or else, you can make use of year and month shortcodes in the title.
While adding these shortcodes, you need to make sure that it reflects also on Yoast SEO or any other SEO plugin you’re using. Or else, you’ll end up hurting your SEO
I personally have three shortcodes setup
- month – September
- smonth – Sep (short-form of the month)
- Year – the complete year
The shortcodes will replace the current year or month in the frontend of your site.
If you are reviewing different products on your site, then only review the products that you think will be around for at least 5 years in the future.
In the case of Amazon Affiliate sites, as you’ll be reviewing the physical products, make sure that the products you review are from well-known brands that have a good track record.
Don’t review products from pseudo-brands that are otherwise Chinese Whitelabel products that get out of stock soon.
Nevertheless, you can make use of tools like AmzLinkChecker regularly, to check whether the products you’re reviewing are currently out of stock or ratings are low.
How to Promote Recently Updated Old Blog Posts
After updating the blog post, now you are confident that your blog post has the potential to return great value to the readers.
Why not make your blog post reach to a wider audience by repurposing it? You can repurpose your blog content by converting it into slides, videos, podcasts, and infographics and properly sharing and promoting it.
This is one of the most underutilized strategy by bloggers. Your aim should not always be to publish new content, but to also promote it using techniques like content repurposing.
Here's my complete guide on repurposing existing blog posts easily within an hour.
Shoot a newsletter
Let your subscribers know about the content you’ve added to your post.
Note down the initial publishing date of the post. Now you could consider segmenting your list so that your newsletter would only be sent to new subscribers who subscribed to your blog after the date of post publication.
Just let them know the highlights of the blog post and link at the bottom. You may also consider adding the label (updated) next to the link.
Your list has the greatest potential to drive you laser-targeted traffic instantly. Make use of it to gain traction to your newly updated post.
Comment on other blogs
Immediately after updating your blog post, you can consider driving some fresh traffic and links to it. You can consider doing great blog commenting on other sites.
You can find blogs to comment on using the below advanced search query.
In the above screenshot, that search query returned only the search results that have the term “nutrition” in the title and has 2 to 25 comments on them.
We are making sure that the webpages we are searching here have active comments approved so that you don't waste time on leaving insightful comments on blogs that don't accep comments.
The comments you make should be of high quality.
Your comment should entice other readers to click on your link. It should be friendly, high-quality and in-depth.
Instead of linking to your homepage in the comment, link to your recently updated blog post. It gives you some extra exposure for your recently updated blog posts.
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 of reading 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
Links are always a good way to improve your page authority, but it can be hard to wait for your inbound marketing to bear fruit. You can still improve your link profile by referring to articles or other types of content on your own blog, provided you do it strategically.
Internal linking helps a lot to improve the crawlability of your blog posts. It also passes fresh link juice to your newly updated posts and signals Google about the newly updated content.
You can also add internal links in the form of related posts. However, if you have a silo structure in place for your site, you may need to be cautious when using a related posts plugin.
Social media promotion
After updating your blog post with new title, fresh content, you need to change the featured image of the blog post to signal the freshness when shared across social media sites.
Now you can add these new titles and images under social visibility section of your SEO plugin.
Now, whenever you share the blog post link on Facebook, the title, description, and the featured image you mentioned here will be displayed instead of the original one.
You can also schedule the blog posts to be posted on Twitter, Facebook pages, LinkedIn at specific intervals.
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, 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.