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Updating old content SEO – instant fixes and poison pills

Why should you update old content? SEO. It's always changing...


Stock image of a woman doing magic, hinting at the improvements updating old content can make.
Time to add a little sparkle to those old posts.

Odds on, there are some blog posts and pages on your website that could use some attention. They might be fine as they are. But updating old content can make it do even better in terms of SEO.


Your targets are the kinds of pages that already bring traffic your way. They may already position fairly well on Google Search Engine Results Pages.


Yet, while content may be king, it sure isn't static. Keywords change. Title trends vary.


Having taken a bit of time away from writing my own business blog as of late, here is how I'm going to go about updating old content that's already good, but could be better:


Should you edit old blog posts?

First of all, it's important to note that barring deleting huge swathes of your original, brilliant content, you're unlikely to damage an old blog post by editing it.


In fact, you are almost certainly to improve how well your old post ranks by giving it a little TLC.


If one of your blog posts is already ranking well on Google, you can use its existing authority as a kind of foundation to hoist it up a few positions.


Plus, editing an old blog post takes way less time than writing a whole new one. It's a win-win. Let's get into it.


How to update old content on your website

Stock image of an older couple, referencing old content on your website
"It's time to make some changes, Winston."

1) Review your title

One of the easiest ways to give old website content a refresh is to review your titles.


This is because a page's title has to do a lot of heavy lifting in SEO writing. It has to be:

  1. Skim-read friendly – it needs to do the virtual equivalent of getting “bums on seats”, attracting enough attention to get people to click on your article when they see it.

  2. Keyword-focused – sometimes pulling in the other direction, it also needs to include the keyphrase that you're trying to search for.

  3. On-target lengthwise – 60 characters should be your limit if you want your page titles to display correctly on mobile devices. Hitting the keyword with an eye-candy-friendly title in that limit isn't easy!

Go on... give your titles a little tweak. See what happens! There's a fair chance that it could boost your click-through rates or even your Google position.


2) Reconsider your keyphrases

The keywords and phrases that people search for don't always remain the same year after year.


Sometimes a new trend or a new way of talking about the same thing starts gaining ground, pushing down mentions of the old keyphrase.


The good news is that there are some easy ways to find potentially useful keywords without getting very technical about it. You can try:

  • Google autocomplete (keep typing and see what appears!)

  • The “People Also Ask” section (a great source of questions that people want answered)

  • Something “everyone is talking about” (tm) – a new buzzword or industry trend

3) Check your meta description

Your meta description might not technically be a direct ranking factor any more (i.e. Google doesn't use it to decide where your page ranks like it used to). But a compelling meta description is much more likely to be clicked on by your good old human readers.

So, what is your meta description like? Is it a little bland? A little formulaic? Or does it dangle a little bit of interest in front of someone scrolling results pages?


4) Test your links

Stock image of a man testing links in old SEO content
"Yeah. No. None of these work anymore."

Those excellent external resources you linked to years ago don't always stay in place.

This means you ideally need to go through the post and click on every link (yes – sigh – every link). Make sure each one sends readers to where you want them to go.


That's phase one. Now, you can consider updating old links and resources. Because even if links do remain in place, the resource they linked to might not be up-to-date or relevant any more.

By way of wild hypothetical example, if you were a freelance content writer who had – many moons ago – written a post about how meta descriptions were an important ranking factor, now would be a good time to update that to say they are, in fact, not.


5) Look at your images

One of the major pieces of work I've got planned for updating old blogs is to switch at least some images in every piece from stock images to custom ones.

Image SEO is actually a neat way to draw in some search traffic. Custom images are also quite fun to create – and free if you use a tool like Canva (there are many others out there).


6) Add new content

Finally, and possibly not falling under the heading of “instant win” (unless you employ an in-house writer or freelance copywriter to do the heavy lifting for you), is adding new content to existing pages.


This is – hands down – the best way to keep content fresh and exciting to both your readers and Google.


Updating old content by adding more can take a bit of time (didn't you cover all the key points already?). But if you spot a post that's performing well, more high-quality, keyword-rich content can help it perform even better.


Updating old content – SEO targets

Here are the places to start when you're considering which old blog posts to update:

  1. Your best blogs – and by “best”, we're talking about the ones that get the most traffic. If your post is a few years old and still ranks well, a bit of an update could see it soar.

  2. Your posts that get shared the most – even if these don't rank as well, they clearly contain information that people want. Updating them can encourage even more shares.

  3. Your posts that have suddenly tanked – noticed a page drop off a cliff in turns of traffic? That info may no longer be relevant. Perhaps the keywords or links are broken or outdated. Fix them and you could fix the page.

Right, that should do it. Wish me luck! I'm off to update some old blog posts. SEO is a harsh mistress.

 

Don't fancy updating old content yourself? Not a problem.


I'm a one-man content writing agency working with businesses in Bristol and far beyond. I make getting your blog written each month easy.


You can fire and forget, trusting I'll be sending you the on-topic content you need every month. Or we can talk through every post in granular detail.


Fire me an email at benjaminmaiden@gmail.com and tell me what you need. There's no cost and no commitment.

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