Boost Your SEO Rankings by Updating Your Old Posts
To rank, you need to be more than just relevant.
Search engine optimization, or SEO, is as old as search engines. While this is likely not news to most readers, you might be surprised to learn that more than 80 million new blog posts are uploaded to WordPress each month. That’s almost a billion articles a year on just one platform, which means so much content remains unnoticed. But what if I told you there was a legitimate way to get your content noticed and boost SEO rankings simply by updating old blog posts?
Regardless of which algorithm your search engine of choice uses, any new content you post is competing for rankings with a tsunami of word salad. For example, let’s say you have a well-written and informative blog post. On average, 72% of traffic visiting that blog post will occur in the first month, with 50% of those impressions being in the first week. This first month is the honeymoon phase of your content because, over the next two years, the post will amble along and gather up the remaining 28% of those impressions. In other words, your blog post will grow stale over time.
Content gets stale because most blog posts have a shelf life of about two years. By the end of the second year, old posts may stop ranking altogether. Search engines can also stop ranking blog posts on evergreen topics because technologies, buzz words, and industry standards change over time. As a result, updating an old post can boost impressions. If planned properly, you can significantly increase your SEO for a fraction of what new content costs.
Why Does Updating Old Posts Boost SEO Rankings?
First, let’s be clear–new content is always good, but remember that honeymoon phase we just went over? Every piece of new content is an opportunity for you to refresh an old blog post and give it a “second honeymoon” by linking to it. This gives new readers a window into an old blog post, which drives new impressions. But more importantly, what you’re doing for your SEO ranking is telling the search engines that your old post is new while organically driving new traffic to it.
Like all tricks to boost your rankings, there are a few things to keep in mind when refreshing old content.
Keep Your Existing Blog Post URL
Don’t change the URL of your old, original post. At best, you’ll lose any ranking you had, and at worst, you run the risk of getting your content flagged as duplicate.
Update Your Content
Make sure you are updating the content. Don’t just throw a bandage on an old blog post. Update images, fix any broken links and add a new paragraph or two or a few relevant sentences here and there. No site wants to backlink to outdated content.
Conduct New Keyword Research
Research your article keywords again while you’re in there. People find that old blog posts rank for different keywords than those they initially targeted. These ranking changes are especially true for keywords with low search volume.
Ensure Content Accuracy
Double and triple-check for content accuracy. Search engines haven’t yet perfected the ability to tell if an article is accurate, but they are getting better all the time. Posts flagged for inaccuracies can negatively impact your SEO efforts.
How Do You Know Which Old Posts Will Boost Rankings?
A good place to start is to update and optimize your most popular old content first. These old blog posts already rank well and have good SEO and backlinks. That’s why updating these posts first will drive the most organic traffic to your site. This benefits your entire site and amplifies every aspect of your SEO efforts. However, we can’t stress the importance of paying close attention to your keywords. Go with whatever keywords the old post is ranking for, rather than forcing the content into a new shoe.
If you don’t already have a content strategy that accounts for updating your old blog posts, then now is the time to prioritize creating one. Your system can be as simple as a bulleted list or as complex as you need it to be. The important thing is to make a plan and stick to it. Since search engines view these updated posts as new, they will index your site more often. Not only does this boost your SEO ranking, but it also improves clickthrough. Also, don’t forget to update the published date of your blog post too. New content tends to rank as more relevant.
How Often Should You Update Old Blog Posts?
There is a balance between making relevant updates to an old piece of content and being spammy by excessively recycling old content. By way of example, we’ve all seen that person who constantly reposts identical batches of content and tries to market them. This is an ineffective method and tends to turn off readers over time—no one likes to endlessly receive the same notifications.
Instead, focus on building brand loyalty with your readers by providing relevant, fresh, high-quality content regularly. By the time your content is a year old, you can start selectively updating posts older than a year. One of the best ways to do this is by lining them with new and fresh content or converting them into a series.
Rather than source new content and then try to find relevant old blog posts, start with the old posts first. Just sort your old posts by date, and then select the oldest ones that perform the best in terms of SEO and keywords. Once you’ve done that, give the post a read, and then develop a new title or theme you can use to link to your old post.
While you’re doing this, you should also identify batches of your lowest-performing content. Group them by theme, and then batch update several, linking them through a targeted new post. This allows you to stretch the value of more than one underperforming post at a time while still improving SEO and recycling your older content.
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Are There Any Extra Tricks to Boost Old Content For SEO?
Ego baiting is one trick that’s known to be an old standby. Often, an old blog post wouldn’t have been popular enough when it was published to attract the attention of someone you might have wanted to mention in the article. If you started a blog and it took a year or two to get traffic, you’ve got a ton of old content that most of your new audience likely hasn’t seen. That content is relevant now because the larger your audience is, the more attention mentioning someone else in a blog post is likely to get.
Including a relevant quote from someone with a link to the passage is a great way to get their attention. If you’ve professionally updated your post, and the rest of your site is solid, they’re likely to link to you so their readers can read about them. It’s a great trick to use when repurposing old content to improve your SEO ranking.
Also, if you’re hiring writers, and you should be, refresh your old blog posts when new posts are published. Then promote your newly updated content the same way you promote the brand new content. Make sharing easy, link articles in newsletters, and let people know about your new blog post.
Does Updating Old Blog Posts Hurt SEO Ranking?
Good blog content will never hurt your site, but no one other than the search engines control the algorithms they use. If you stay on top of the updates affecting SEO, then you’ll know that short articles stuffed with keywords and little meaningful or relevant content aren’t helping any site. Simply updating those posts with new keywords can do more harm than good.
The same holds for poor grammar and spelling. Well-written and edited content keeps people on your site longer. The longer someone is on a particular page of your site, the more likely it is search engines will rank your content as valuable.
The critical takeaway is that it’s not how many old blog posts you update, but rather how well you update them. The more relevant your updates, the more you’ll boost SEO rankings for your entire site.