Content Marketing: 8 Ways to Freshen Up Old Content for SEO
It’s no secret that content is the driving force of the search engines. By posting fresh SEO content consistently, you can attract traffic to your website and boost your rankings.
But what happens to that “fresh” content as time goes by? As with anything else that is perishable, it reaches the point of expiration and becomes stale. Sadly, this old content is often forgotten about and is left to rot in the content compost pile that continues to grow on most blogs and websites.
What Are Your Options With Old Content?
When it comes to what can be done with old content, you really only have 4 options:
1. Get rid of it.
Why anyone would delete information, old content is beyond me, but if you don’t care about losing links or search ranking then hit delete! Outside of that, there may be some use-cases of deleting content that is irrelevant, incorrect, or in some way hurting your brand.
2. 301 redirect.
This is a much better choice than option 1, but you need to be careful to do this the right way, otherwise this can cause irreparable damage. Make sure to redirect the content to another piece of content that matches incredibly closely with the relevancy and style of the old piece. Don’t make the mistake of redirecting to your home page, Google will make sure you pay dearly for that.
3. Leave it be.
You could choose to just leave it be, but then why are you reading this article?
4. Fix it!
While this choice will take some time and work, freshening up old content is by far the best approach when it comes to improving your SEO and increasing organic rankings.
Why is Old Content Worth Updating?
While most content marketers only focus on new content creation, here are a few good reasons why you should consider auditing old content and fixing it in your overall content strategy:
Keeps your site relevant.
Old content basically tells your readers and Google that your website is stale and not up to date. While adding new content can help to solve this, you still run into the problem of it eventually becoming stale. Even content that is considered “evergreen” will still have a publish date attached to it. If your publish date is multiple years old, people will assume your content is no longer relevant (even if it still is). Updating your old content and republishing it with a new publish date can keep your site relevant and credible with users and Google.
Get new life out of your previous SEO efforts.
You’ve already spent time on creating the content, so why not try and get even more out of it after the fact? Updating old content and re-sharing it is a simple way to double-dip into its marketing potential and to get the most bang-for-your-buck when it comes to content marketing. Not only that, simple things like updating the publish date, adding a few hundred extra words and doing some simple optimization over keywords the content has ranked for in the past can shoot it right back up to the top of rankings.
With a schedule and a little maintenance, you can keep your top-performing pages at the forefront of Google search engine rankings.
Better engage the user.
Nothing is worse than finding inaccurate or outdated information online. Don’t let that be your website! Staying updated and giving accurate information is one of the best ways to build credibility and to brand with your users.
For instance, going to a blog post from 10 years ago using outdated cultural references might invoke a little nostalgia, but more likely than that it will result in someone clicking away from your site in a hurry.
It’s cost effective.
Updating old content is often cheaper than having to pay for an entirely new piece of content. The reason being is that the “meat” of the content is already there and usually only needs minor enhancements to be brought back to snuff. Due to the lessened work load required to fix old content, more old content can be updated at a faster pace than what is required to create completely new content. You can increase site traffic, boost SEO keyword rankings and appear to Google (and readers) like you’ve just created a bunch of new pieces of content.
As you can see, these benefits definitely make the case for paying some attention to, and fixing old content.
How Do You Fix Old Content?
Each piece of content has its own purpose and life-force if you will, but here are a few easy ways that you can freshen it up.
1. Give Old Content a New Voice
One of the easiest traps for companies to fall into is to write their content with the all-to-familiar “corporate” voice.
What exactly is the corporate voice? According to Henneke, it is comprised of the 3 following things:
- An absurd amount of long sentences
- Too many complicated words
- The passive voice
Henneke goes on to explain how incredibly dull the passive voice actually is:
“Corporate drones often use the passive voice because they don’t like to take responsibility by using I or we. Instead, they avoid blame by saying, “A mistake has been made.” But it sounds impersonal and unfriendly. (And cowardly.)
Instead of using the passive voice (“Your email will be replied to in 48 hours.”) try the active voice: “We’ll reply to your email within 48 hours.”
So as you can see, changing the voice on old content to be more conversational and personal is one way that you can fix old content.
2. Update the Persona
As new content marketing strategies are rolled out, it seems that each campaign tweaks the persona that it is trying to reach. Over time, this can compile into a lot of content that may end up being misaligned to the wrong audience based on company product or service changes.
For example, let’s say a plumbing distributor wrote some content back in the day about some additional plumbing services that they used to offer the public outside of their manufacturing and distribution of plumbing parts. Let’s also say that the distributor has since ceased these types of services and know focuses solely on manufacturing and distribution. Instead of deleting this old piece, they should change it to fit their new persona of who their customer is and focus it more around the parts that a serviceman would need to complete the job.
This example shows how you can get the most out of old content by realigning it with the proper audience or persona.
3. Reassess and Reoptimize for Ranking SEO Keywords
To properly employ your content marketing campaign, you should be doing some keyword research to use as a basis for your content writing efforts. Every piece of content should have a single primary keyword as well as secondary keywords that have been peppered throughout. Hopefully you’re up to date on how to use keywords in your content, and are properly optimizing them throughout your new pieces of content.
But here’s the thing. Rarely will you ever hit a homerun on your first at-bat with a piece of content that’s focused on a specific keyword. While there are certain ways to set your content up for success from the get go, time is really the main indicator that your piece of content is moving in the right direction.
If you’re seeing your page start to rank for certain keyword phrases after 3-6 months of it being live on your site, then go back that post and strengthen your content for those ranking keywords! Sometimes you may not be ranking for the keyword phrases you initially intended, but the phrases you are ranking for are worth optimizing for. Go in and fix your image alt-text, headers, meta description and add a few hundred words (if necessary) to strengthen your case to Google that they are ranking you for the right phrases.
Recalibrate Content that isn’t Ranking
On the flip-side, if you have a post that has been up 3-6 months but just isn’t ranking for anything at all, you may have picked the wrong keyword phrases to begin with. What is the overall topic the blog is about? Does it match your target keywords? If not, then go in, reoptimize for better, more relevant keywords and try again. This WORKS. Adding more content that reinforces the keyword swap is always a good idea. In fact, if your posts aren’t 2000 words to begin with, then adding content to get them to that point is always a good idea.
4. Use Emotionally Stimulating Words
A recent study has shown that when users read a “textual metaphor” in a sentence, it causes the brain to be activated in many sensory areas.
Having a bad day? Vs. Having a rough day?
The use of “rough” caused more sensory activity than the word “bad.”
Using words that can connect on an emotional level can cause your readers to better connect with the content and make them actually feel something. When a reader feels something, they are much more likely to remember what the content meant to them long after they’ve read it.
While using words such as stale, or stinky may resonate better with a reader, don’t overdo it. Too much emotion in your content writing can actually go against you if overused.
“Decide which points need to attract your reader’s attention. Then fine-tune these by appealing to the senses, or up the volume with emotional words.” – by Henneke
5. Update Expired Names
Over time, companies change the names of products, services, and other company assets. There is probably content on your website that has these types of expired names and terms, but what should you do with it?
When updating old content like this, always side on giving information. The idea is to share with people what is going on and why and when the change was made. Readers would rather have an explanation of why something changed than to just be redirected to the new page without any explanation.
Let the user feel like they are in control as confusion and distortion with readers is no bueno.
6. Change Discontinued or Out-of-Stock Products
There are many different reasons why a product may become obsolete. For example, they can be discontinued, seasonal, or offered for a limited time before they disappear.
Even though a product may not be offered anymore, create some intrigue around why it’s gone and give some information that adequately explains the situation. If it’s a seasonal product or out of stock product, update your old content by building some hype by creating a sign up form where they can be put on a waiting list to be notified once the product is available again.
7. Merge Repetitive Content
There is nothing wrong with repeating yourself on your blog content as long as you consistently try to take a new angle with old ideas. Repetition is what helps us as humans learn and apply things. Over time, though, you may end up accidentally having a lot of old content that is near identical to each other.
For example, if you have a blog that talks about the benefits of using a particular supplement, you may discover that you have two posts that are nearly identical. Let’s say that one of these blog posts brings in more traffic than the other based on analytics data. One idea when updating your old content could be to merge and rework the two posts into the main post that brings in the most traffic. You could then 301 redirect the non-traffic post to the newly merged post that already has great traffic history, thus boosting your internal linking structure and overall SEO optimization.
8. Utilize the Power of Evergreen
Evergreen content, or content that is centered on principles that don’t’ change much over time, is often a goldmine that is never fully taken advantage of by most content marketers. Even though the content itself doesn’t really need fixing, the way that most marketers use old evergreen content absolutely does.
While marketers do a great job promoting new evergreen content that they post, they often fail to put this content back on the promotion docket for future ad campaigns. This is both silly and non-efficient.
The truth is that evergreen content can still pull in huge amounts of traffic months, or even years after it has been published due to it always being relevant. So if you are updating old content that is considered to be evergreen, make sure to promote it again and again on social media, as well as republish it on your site, to reap the continual rewards that evergreen content can produce.
Updating Old Content Conclusion
Old content is a byproduct of posting new content frequently, and it isn’t ever going to go away. However, with these 8 simple fixes, you can give old content new life while building credibility with your readers and potential customers. Not only that, revisiting old content to improve it and update it is the only way to maximize the longevity of that investment! Start tracking your content, optimizing it for ranking keywords and watch your content marketing efforts pay off in ways it never has before.
I know that there are many more ways to get new SEO value from old content, so what are some of your favorite ways to get new value out of old content? Let me know in the comments below!