How do you decide whether content should be updated or deleted? Read this 6 effective ways to extend life and optimize rankings of existing content.
It's no secret that blog posts and other types of content can quickly lose their appeal if they're not updated regularly. But what many bloggers and content creators don't realize is that many content strategies can extend your content's life - and one of them is a content update.
In this post, we'll discuss the importance of content updates, how to decide whether content should be updated or deleted, and 6 effective ways to extend the life and optimize rankings of existing content.
So whether you're struggling to come up with new ideas or need extra longevity for your existing content, read on for some tips.
What is content update?
Content update is making changes to existing content, such as adding new information, correcting errors, and/or updating outdated information. It is important for several reasons:
Firstly, it helps to ensure that your content is accurate and up-to-date.
Secondly, it can help to improve the overall quality of your content.
Thirdly, it can help to keep your readers engaged by providing them with new and relevant information.
Content update is important because outdated content can be misleading for users and can also reflect poorly on the organization.
Besides, if we talk about the user perspective, visitors expect websites to be accurate and up-to-date, so it's important to check and update content regularly. Publishing the most complete and relevant information can help avoid confusion or frustration and minimize bounce rates.
Additionally, a content update can help improve a website's overall appearance and professionalism. Therefore, if you want to maintain a high-quality website or blog, keep your content updated regularly.
Revising content vs. writing new content
Revising content and writing new content are two very different processes. Revising content is about taking what you already have and improving it. This could involve anything from cleaning up typos and adding new media to completely rewriting the whole piece of content.
If your content already performs well, it's possible you just need to brush up on some things. For example, check if newer data has become available. Also, check the quality of external links and ensure that none of them are broken.
The main benefit of revising existing content is that this content is already ranking for some keywords. So, by optimizing your keyword strategy, you can increase your rankings and possibly rank for more keywords. Additionally, giving a second life to your content and actively sharing it across all your business channels will give it even more exposure.
Below you can see a snapshot from Google Analytics which illustrates how the update of one of our articles has influenced its long-term performance.
The question of whether to revise existing content or write new content is one that often plagues content creators. On the one hand, revising existing content can be a quick and easy way to update outdated information or correct errors.
On the other hand, if your content doesn't perform well and the topic doesn't resonate with your audience, it's possible starting from scratch with new content can provide an opportunity to take a fresh approach and explore new topics in greater depth.
So, how do you decide which option is right for you?
One key factor to consider is the age of the content. If the piece is only a few months old, it may simply need a few minor updates rather than a complete overhaul. Timeless pieces require an update from time to time but generally hold value for a long time. So, consider keeping them.
On the contrary, content covering Covid-19 trends may simply sit on your blog and gather dust because it's not relevant anymore. Unless you can give it a fresh new perspective or add some original insight and/or data, it may be best to get rid of it.
Another consideration is your audience. Understanding topics that your audience cares about is crucial to ensure that your content is truly valuable to your readers.
If you need to unpublish some old content and redirect users to a new location, use a 301 redirect to send users and search engines to the new URL. The same goes for content you may want to consolidate.
However, unless you need to migrate content from one domain to another, optimize the URL, or re-organize the folder structure, consider keeping the original URL. That way, you won't lose any search engine ranking or link equity. Besides, this will minimize the redirect chain because too many redirects result in an increase in website loading speed.
Identifying pages for content update
Identifying pages that need to be revisited can be difficult. However, a few key factors can help you identify pages that need to be updated.
First, consider the last time the page was updated. The page could use a refresh if it has been more than a year.
Another factor to consider is the frequency of Google content updates. If Google has recently released a core update or content update (e.g., Helpful Content Update) and the ranking for some of your pages has now fallen, it's time to update those pages.
If a page loses rankings, it also indicates that it needs a refresh.
Consider any link opportunities that may have arisen since the last update. Update internal links and check the quality and/or relevance of all external links.
Finally, if there is a major change in the industry or topic, it may be necessary to update the content to reflect these changes.
Identifying pages that need to be updated can be tricky, but by considering these factors, you can ensure that your site's content is always fresh and up-to-date.
Now you know everything about revising and writing new content. It's time to discuss 6 easy ways to extend the life of your content so you can get the most out of every piece you create.
6 tips to extend the life of your content
While there are lots of ways to extend the life of your content, here are 6 of the most effective:
1. Update existing blog posts
Over time, blog posts can start to feel outdated. The information may be inaccurate, or the writing style may no longer reflect your brand voice. Your competitors may have updated and improved their content or worked on their link-building strategy, which resulted in a drop in your ranking.
You can start with simple things like breaking up the text into shorter sentences and improving readability. Review your headings and ensure that they are still attention-grabbing and reflective of the content within the post.
Next, look at your competitors' content. Evaluate the length of their content and the topics they cover. Try to match their content and write even better content.
If you don't know where to start or how to find extra topics to cover, look at 'People also ask' and Related searches on Google. These can be a good starting point for finding inspiration.
By taking these simple steps, you can ensure that your old content remains fresh and relevant.
2. Revamp your keyword strategy
As you may know, the most important aspect of content creation is choosing the right keywords. They need to be searchable, that is, with decent search volume, and with realistic keyword difficulty.
As time goes on, your keyword rankings can fluctuate. That's why it's important to regularly revise your keyword strategy. Here are a few ways you can extend the life of your content by updating your keywords:
1. Use keyword tools like Ahrefs or Semrush to look up the keywords you rank for, and identify for which keywords your positions have changed. Identify trends and anomalies.
2. Keep an eye on your competitors' keyword strategies. Run a content gap analysis to see what keywords they're ranking for and you don't. Rewrite your content to target these keywords.
3. Conduct new keyword research and find new keywords worth targeting for your topic. Even if they're indirectly relevant to your topic, it's a good idea to incorporate them anyway because you'll be able to include new and more sophisticated information.
By regularly revising your keyword strategy, you can ensure that your content stays fresh and relevant and continues to reach your target audience.
3. Add original data to your content
As a content creator, you know that fresh, original content is one of the keys to success. But sometimes, writing original content can be a challenge. Deep research and complex analyses ultimately contribute to content uniqueness.
If you can produce your own data-based content, such as infographics or charts, you’ll get more social shares and backlinks. For example, we used our reporting system data to demonstrate the effect of the war in Ukraine on eCPM change among 3 websites in our network in 2019-2020.
If you find yourself struggling to come up with new material, here are a few ways to extend the life of your content and get more mileage out of what you already have:
1.Repurpose old content:
If you have a timeless article or blog post, see if you can give it new life by turning it into a video, podcast, or infographic.
2.Update outdated data:
Check for new data for the topics you're covering. Sources like Statista or eMarketer have a ton of free data you could use to better illustrate your point.
Offer in-depth research and more perspectives within your article or blog post. Create a pillar post that covers a major category of your blog and write smaller cluster (and secondary cluster) posts that would be interlinked with the pillar post.
If you're already ranking high on the SERP (positions 1-2) but aren't getting results, you're probably ranking for keywords that aren't relevant to your content. The reason could be that you are ranking for keywords that aren't searched enough, or your content is irrelevant compared to users' search intent.
Using these strategies, you can keep your content fresh and relevant without starting from scratch every time.
4. Run a content gap analysis on a page level
Another way to extend the life of your content is to run a content gap analysis on a page level. This will help you to identify areas where your content is lacking and make changes accordingly.
One way to do this is by using an SEO tool like Ahrefs. Simply enter your competitors' URLs and your URL for a competing piece of content and find keywords that your competitors are ranking for and you don't.
After you analyze your competitors' content, it's time to make changes. This might involve adding new sections or even entirely new pages of content. Make sure your changes are based on data and feedback, not just a gut feeling.
Content gap analysis can also be performed on a domain level, which can be beneficial to identify and prioritize keywords with business potential. That way, you can ensure that your website ranks for keywords that people search for businesses like yours.
5. Update images
Over time, the visual appeal of your content will diminish as design styles change and images begin to look dated. By updating the images in your content, you can give it a facelift and make it relevant for today's audience. Here are some tips for updating images:
Use current, high-quality photos: Nothing looks worse than pixelated or low-resolution photos. To save up image space, use tools like TinyPNG to compress images without sacrificing their quality.
Stick to modern design trends: Like fashion goes in and out of style, so do design trends. If your content is starting to look outdated, try incorporating some of the latest design trends. This could mean using more flat or minimalistic imagery, adding micro-interactions, or using brighter colors.
Create custom graphics: Custom graphics are a great way to add interest and personality to your content. Sites like Canva allow you to create countless unique designs without any knowledge or experience in design.
One way to update existing blog posts is to refresh the images. A well-chosen photo can make a big difference in how appealing your content looks. Imagine you’re updating an article that has a screenshot of the old Instagram interface. It immediately feels like very old content, even if the content is fresh and relevant.
6. Better match search intent
As any content creator knows, one of the most difficult things about creating good content is ensuring it stays relevant over time and speaks to your target audience. Nailing the search intent is arguably the most important and difficult part of that because if the content doesn't provide relevant information, it won't rank. Optimizing your content for search intent is arguably one of the most important things in content marketing. If the content doesn’t speak to your target audience and doesn’t provide relevant information, it won’t rank.
When writing your content, consider optimizing it for the 3 Cs of search intent:
Content type (what type of content should it be, e.g., blog posts, video, product pages, category pages, landing pages)
Content format (in which format should this content be, e.g., how-to guides, step-by-step tutorials, listicle)
Content angle (what angle should this content have, e.g., content freshness, product comparison)
For example, this is the first page of Google results for the keyword “winter fashion trends”. Based on that, we can deduce that most people will likely expect to find information relevant to this season’s fashion. So, it makes sense that most top-ranking pages include the year.
Following the 3Cs of search intent can help ensure that your content is relevant to your audience.
We hope this article gave you some guidance on how to perform an effective content update. Before you begin updating your pages, remember that quality content is the number one ranking factor that will get to the top of SERP. If your content isn't engaging and doesn't meet the searchers' intent, it doesn't matter how well it is optimized for SEO.
Alise Zaiceva is a content marketing specialist at a website monetization platform Setupad. She’s passionate about content and helping publishers scale their businesses through powerful digital marketing strategies. In her free time, she enjoys doing yoga, listening to techno, and expanding her knowledge of tech.