In a recent blog post, we shared one of our favorite ways to optimize your content marketing strategy by repurposing content into new ideas and new formats. Our other favorite way to stretch your content creation budget and time investment is to update older content.
It’s not just a matter of asking, “Is there something new to talk about?” Even though the content itself may be factually relevant, older content will not have as much SEO value as it once did. Moz illustrates perfectly how the “fresh factor” degrades over time. In some cases, your content may start failing to rank as well as it once did for certain queries.
All content has a shelf life, despite your good intentions to make it “evergreen.” Let’s take a closer look at what the updating process entails and how you can put it to work in your outsourced content marketing strategy.
7 Steps to Update Your Content
1. Focus on Content that Performed Well
Many content marketers who choose to update content head straight for underperforming posts to see how they can “fix” them. But it’s more impactful to invest in evergreen content that has historically performed well. Content that previously got a great response will likely get more attention with new updates versus content that never performed well.
2. Refresh the Text
You don’t have to change every word in a blog post or e-book, but your text should present a fresh look and feel overall. People don’t want to feel like it’s the same old song and dance. They expect something new, so make sure you change enough so that it doesn’t feel like recycled content.
Best practice is to replace any outdated information and then add new relevant material and resources to it — no need to reinvent the wheel for a piece of content that has already performed well in the past.
In addition, Google recently shortened its meta description snippets from 160 characters to whatever it deems necessary, which can vary between mobile and desktop browsers. You may need to revise your meta descriptions in case the full snippet isn’t displayed in search.
3. Change the Images
Think back to when you were in 5th-grade social studies. Back then, you might not have given much thought to how the people in your textbook looked, the clothes they wore, or the quality of the images. But if you were to look through that same textbook today, you’d notice almost instantly how dated the images are. And when images are outdated, you may automatically assume you’re reading “old news” that simply isn’t relevant anymore.
Like your written content, images have a shelf life, too. Even graphics-only images with no people in them can give away your content’s age, since design trends change, too.
Replacing old images with new ones can give your content an instant visual boost while making it relevant to the reader. If you do replace images, don’t forget to review and update the alt text for each image. This can help the visually impaired and search engine crawlers learn more about your content.
You can also take this time to make sure your images are optimized for page load speed. For example, PNG images generally load faster than JPG images. And when it comes to user experience, more than half of your visitors will leave your website if they have to wait longer than three seconds for a page to load — every fraction of a second truly counts!
4. Update Stats and Links
Updating your content has plenty of technical benefits that can reinvigorate its SEO value. For starters, you should identify links to outdated sources and fix any broken links in your content. You may also find where you can add new, relevant links to further support your ideas. Keep an eye out for opportunities to link to your other content pieces as well so that your readers can easily find all the information they need within a topic cluster.
New statistics may be available that provide a clearer argument for your content. Linking to the most recent information available is a surefire way to build trust with your audience.
5. Pay Attention to Tone and Style
Are you still catering to the same audience as you did when you first wrote the content? If so, do their needs and expectations from you remain unchanged?
It’s important to update your content to reflect the audience you’re speaking to. You may discover that your messaging no longer resonates with your current market, or that you’ve developed institutional sameness, which means you’ll need to adjust how you deliver that message.
6. Update Your Call to Action
Review your final CTA in your content to make sure it still reflects the action you want readers to take. You may have a new offer you want them to take advantage of or even a new strategy to keep them on your website longer.
7. Distribute Your New Content
Once you go through the process of updating your older content, don’t forget to update the publish date and share your new creation with your audience. Post it on your website, send it via email newsletter, and share it across your social media audiences as if it’s brand new. This is one of the easiest ways to reach people with your content that may have never seen the previous version.
The Impact of Updating Content: A Real-Life Example
One of our long-standing clients, datapine, has done exceptionally well with updating older content for new purposes. For example, they turned a blog post from 2017 into an updated resource that still brings in heavy traffic. It’s captivating, presents visuals to illustrate its points, and gives the reader the sense of being taken by the hand and guided through a complex concept step-by-step.
The post, titled “28 Sales Reports Examples You Can Use For Daily, Weekly or Monthly Reports”, shares how to use sales reports to monitor and improve your sales team’s progress. With an engaging yet authoritative tone, the post advises readers on how to use metrics to assess and respond to each team member’s strengths and weaknesses.
To update the post, datapine outsourced content to Content Pros and provided their updated keyword research and identified which of their new reports would be added. Their objective was not to rewrite the existing content but rather add new resources with the same level of clarity and usefulness as the original article. They also updated the graphics to give the post a fresh look.
“Our strategy is looking more long-term,” Heiko, Head of Marketing at datapine, emphasizes. “Our purpose was never to create blog content that gets one-time high traffic.” With every post, datapine aims to build on what they’ve already created rather than sharing a series of trending posts that become irrelevant in a couple of weeks. “We always focus more on long-term rankings,” he says. “It usually takes two to four months for the blog post to get the organic traffic we’ve planned for.”
Their blog has become a resource that potential and current customers find consistently reliable, as demonstrated by the perpetually rising number of organic hits.
Data provided by datapine
datapine finds it easy to outsource the content writing to professional, fully-managed quality content writers to handle the original creation as well as the updates to their content. Read the full case study to learn how Content Pros helped datapine double organic traffic annually to more than 100,000 visitors per month.