If you’re an avid writer like me, then you’ll love planning out new blog posts for your website, especially when you start to see that your customers are reading and engaging with them. It’s also fascinating to see how much blog posts can improve your website’s discoverability in search engines (amongst other things!).
But sometimes, writer’s block strikes and coming up with new content ideas can be frustrating. Plus, there’s often a good chance that the ideas you do have could be used to improve an existing blog post on your website, rather than writing a whole new one.
Why should you update old blog posts?
Once you hit “publish” on a blog post, it’s easy to forget about it and never update it, but you should make it your priority to regularly revise and republish them. Updating your old blog posts will give you the opportunity to:
- Correct outdated or no longer accurate content
- Expand on a topic you rank highly for in the search results
- Add new links to newer content pieces on your website
- Improve its readability
- Update the article to match your current brand guidelines, tone of voice or quality standards
What are the benefits of updating old content?
There are lots of benefits to revising and republishing your old blog posts – not only to make corrections to outdated content.
If you notice that some of your older blog posts aren’t as high up in the search results as they used to be, then spending time working on improving them is a worthwhile activity, and could be more beneficial than just writing new content on the same topic. In turn, these improvements could help drive more traffic to your website, earn more backlinks and get more conversions.
I also find that reviewing old blog posts helps me come up with new blog posts.
A study by Ahrefs shows the impact of updating blog content. For their piece on “what is SEO”, they were able to double their traffic on the article simply by rewriting and republishing it, which you can see here.
How often should you update old blog posts?
Make it part of your content marketing strategy to regularly review and improve old blog posts, by prioritising posts that drive a significant number of users to your website (or posts that used to). It’s worth allocating a portion of your marketing time each quarter to do this, although that amount of time will depend on how many blog posts you have. Or you could aim to update a set number of posts per quarter, again prioritising the posts with the most value to your business.
Updating old blog posts – the process:
Identify which blog posts to update
Firstly, you want to create a list of priority blog posts to focus your efforts on. Your aim is to choose blog posts that are bringing in the most traffic from organic search but are old or outdated. Here’s how:
- Go to Google Search Console to find this list, using the Performance report over the past 12 months (or longer) to identify the pages that are most visited through Organic Search, then make a list of the most visited blog posts. Filter your results by your blog location so you only see your blog posts here, and not your other pages. For the Base Creative blog, I use URLs containing “/opinion/” to do this.
- Or check your Google Analytics Behavior reports to find blog posts to prioritise, if you don’t have Google Search Console in place (yet!).
- Make a note of its current performance, such as number of monthly visitors, number of keywords and where this piece ranks for them, so you can compare its performance after you make your updates.
Optimise your old blog posts
Once you have your list of posts, work through the following list of activities to improve the content on the page:
Review focus keyword
Did you have a focus keyword for this article at the time? If so, review the article to see if it’s featured on the page, particularly in any headings.
Type this focus keyword into Google or a tool like Semrush or Ahrefs to find related search queries, then incorporate the terms you find into the copy.
For example, if I was revising a blog post that had “email marketing tips” as the focus keyword, I could use Google’s related search terms at the bottom of the page to find similar terms to consider in this post, such as “email marketing tips for small businesses” or “email marketing tips to increase sales”.
If you don’t have a focus keyword for your article, it’s time to retroactively add one! Find the keywords your article is already ranking for in Google Search Console, or a tool like Semrush, then use the best performing keyword as a basis for your content. Could you include it anywhere else in the blog post? Are there any related terms that will add value to your content, or introduce a new angle to the post?
Here’s the fun part! The key to updating your blog post is checking whether the information in it is still factually correct or relevant. First, you’ll want to update and/or remove content as necessary for accuracy. Then, armed with your keyword research or new developments in your industry since you first published your article, you’ll want to add new content.
For example, there might be missed opportunities in the first version of your blog post that you can now include, or you might have changed your opinion on the topic since publishing that you can add too.
Quick tip: if you’re not sure what content to add, check out the “People also ask” section of the Google search results for your focus keyword, and start answering them in your blog post.
It’s also a good idea to double-check that spelling, grammar and punctuation is correct, and that the tone of the blog post is in line with your current brand guidelines and quality standards.
Review article structure
Is the blog post easy to read? Have headings and subheadings been used correctly? As part of your review process, break up the post into easy to read sections that are led with a <H2> or <H3> heading that includes your keywords. Bullet points also help make content easier to read.
Images that illustrate your blog post can help improve the SEO of a page, and help visually break up the chunks of content. If you didn’t add any images the first time round, here’s your chance to do so! Don’t forget to add alt tags to your images too.
Add internal links
Linking to other pages on your website is great at helping users find more content on your website. Search engines appreciate you linking your content this way too. So, when reviewing your blog post, consider whether you can link to related blog posts, especially content that was written after this one.
Make sure you use descriptive anchor text to help Google understand what your link is about. Avoid using phrases like “Click here to read more.” Instead, use a descriptive anchor tag like “Find out more about our email marketing tips.”
Update publish date
If you add new content, update the publish date on your article to help Google understand its freshness. In the blog post, you can add a note of when it was originally published.
Don’t update the URL
If you can help it, don’t update the URL of your blog post. This might be a little more tricky to avoid if the date is in your URL. If you do have to change the URL for any reason, implement a 301 redirect from the old URL to the new one. Speak to your web developer if you’re not sure on how to do this.
Quick tip: when writing new blog posts, avoid including references to dates and years in your post’s URL, so it’s much easier to make updates in the future.
Reindex on Google Search Console
Here’s where you’ll need your Google Search Console set up. Once you’ve made your updates, Google will at some point get round to reindexing your post, which is essentially the process of refreshing the page in the Google search database. However, you can speed this up by requesting indexing on Google Search Console.
- Go to your Google Search Console account
- Paste the URL of the post into the search bar at the top of the page
- Click “REQUEST INDEXING”
Share on social media
Further boost the visibility of your updated blog post by resharing it across your social media channels. For more ideas on how to share your posts, check out some creative ways of repurposing your blog content as social posts from Becca, our Social Media Consultant.
Do people still click through to your website from a search engine?— Base Creative // Digital Marketing Agency (@basecreative) May 24, 2021
Let’s find out! 🕵️♀️
Articles are ideal to share as posts on Google My Business too, so get into the habit of regularly adding them to your listing.
- Find the questions your audience is asking
- How to get started with content marketing in the legal sector
- Your Money or Your Life: How to write financial content that Google loves
- Title tags: how to achieve the best results
Don’t underestimate the value of revisiting and revising your old blog posts. Not only will the activity help you be productive when writer’s block strikes, there’s lots of good SEO potential too – from improving your rankings in organic search to driving more traffic to your website. I’m sure I’ll be back to refresh this blog post in a few months’ time! Got any questions about content marketing? Email me at [email protected].