At some point in your content and blogging strategy, you’ll feel like you’re just writing for the sake of writing. Your new content isn’t interesting and you’re really stretching for topics. It might even feel like you’ve exhausted all your options. So, what should you do? The content machine never stops, but when the ideas dry up, it’s time to look back at what you’ve done and optimize, improve, and refresh the content you already have.
Google loves when you update old content because the internet has become filled to the brim with content, so much so that it’s becoming harder and harder to stand out and not get buried by the blogs around you. This makes the SEO aspects of content very difficult which is why it’s become so important to update your old content regularly. Show Google you care about producing quality content by consolidating, optimizing, and refreshing.
So, thought you were done with that blog you posted in 2016? You couldn’t be more wrong. It’s time to dig up the unoptimized and underperforming blogs of the past and breathe new life into your backlog.
Why Refreshing Content is Effective
Refreshing your old content is effective for the same reason creating new content is effective and for the same reason you’re blogging in the first place: Google likes it so you should do it.
If you leave posts to rot, you’re missing a big opportunity. Refreshing old blogs is a (relatively) easy way to update your blog more often and make sure all your content is fulfilling its highest possible potential. It doesn’t hurt to give your loyal subscribers a refresher as well!
Refreshing content will help old blogs perform better and realize their true potential.
The biggest reason that refreshing content works is that it shows Google that you’re active and that you care about the freshness and quality of ALL of your blog posts. Not only does Google see it as fresh content, but if you send out a monthly RSS Feed it’ll show up as if it was a brand-new blog.
Related Blog: Starting, Tracking, and Optimizing Your Content Strategy
How to Find Blogs That Need Updating
If you’re sold on refreshing your content, your next question is probably: How do I know which blogs need to be refreshed? The answer is to look at the data and look for these kinds of blogs:
The first and easiest is content that is dead in the water. If a blog post hasn’t gotten a view in months or has never gotten many views in its history, it is one that needs to be updated.
These will be easy to spot, just filter your blog posts by least views and look through your posts to find topics that are still relevant and have good SEO qualities. Chances are you’ve got a blog with killer potential and a keyword that’s ripe for use, but it just needs more meat on its bones.
Blogs Past Their Prime
The second kind of blogs that are worth giving a shot in the arm are ones that, at some point, used to drive traffic but have slowed down.
As you can see, the blog above goes through the stages that most blogs will go through in their lifetime:
- A Strong Start: Freshly published, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. This blog is ready to take on the world. Google will see that it’s fresh, you’ll promote it like crazy, it’ll show up in emails. It’s your newborn baby and you’re going to take care of it like one.
- A Dip In Form: As the freshness factor fades, the blog has to leave the nest and stand on its own two legs. So, naturally, traffic will dip and the blog will rely heavily on organic rather than direct or social media traffic.
- The Plateau: As they say: Water finds its level. This is the blog’s level and it’ll stay at this point for a stretch, getting consistent traffic.
- The Decay: As a blog ages, it decays. It’s a fact of life. This is when you’ll see the numbers slowly dwindle off and this is when it’s time to refresh that content.
So, you have to dig up that grave, pull the decaying blog out of the ground and figure out the best way to bring it back to life. The data above is from a great example of a blog that obviously has the power to sustain traffic to an extent, but needs a content refresh or overhaul.
All phases of a blog’s lifecycle can be seen here from the strong start all the way to the decay
One major factor that will determine whether or not you should refresh a blog is if the topic is still relevant. If you wouldn’t write the blog today, then it’s not worth your time to refresh. Most likely, it’ll be because the topic is no longer relevant and in a fast-moving world like SEO, this will be the case a lot of the time.
How You Can Refresh Your Old Content
Finding the blog is easy enough, all you need to do is look at the data; the hard part is figuring out how to get its heart beating again.
There are a few ways you can go about that:
Update the Content on Old Blogs
Obviously, the best way to refresh a blog is to update the content. This means updating what’s already there AND adding new content on top of that. Big changes will have a bigger impact on the rankings. Of course, you should update any grammar mistakes, break up paragraphs if you used to love writing walls of text, and update anything that is now outdated, but you absolutely need to write beefier content.
If you’re struggling to find ways to beef up your blogs, find new sources, find new information, and generally just go deeper into the topics you covered than you did before. Turn a 300-word blog into a 600-word blog, add lists, add new topics that fall under the same umbrella, or find a new angle to cover on the topic.
If you have any blogs that are annual (Top Trends of 2020, for example) it’s a good idea to update them as often as possible. Include new trends as they arrive and, obviously, update it for each year. Google loves seeing that you’re frequently updating content and annual posts are a good way to do that.
This data is from our “Top 10 HubSpot Integrations Blog” which we updated for 2020. You can see the bump that occurs as soon as the 2020 content went live.
Add Videos to Old Blogs
If you’ve ventured into the world of video, adding relevant videos to your old blogs is a fantastic way to improve the blog’s content and the SEO. Not only will a video help improve the time on page of your blog, but, if you use an SEO-friendly video hosting software like Wistia, the transcripts are automatically added to the page (which will significantly affect your SEO) and the videos are pre-optimized for SEO. You don’t have to do anything beyond embedding them on the page.
Videos in your blog increase engagement, increase time on page, are personable, help SEO, and turn your blog into a multimedia experience
If you don’t have the capability to create videos, Soapbox by Wistia is a great way to create professional-quality video content with just your webcam. Make videos explaining the more complicated topics of your blog and put it right onto the page.
Using videos to your advantage also helps you build brand affinity by showcasing you and your brand in a more personable way.
Combine Low-Performing Blogs of Similar Topics
If your content strategy was extremely extensive, you probably covered your target topics and keywords to the point of exhaustion.
How to merge onto the highway. Why You want to merge quickly. When to properly merge onto the highway.
It’s a fine way to make sure you attack your keyword from all angles and make sure fewer people are able to slip through the cracks of your strategy. But, what if you’ve got all these blogs and they’re all struggling? Do you update them all? How can you do that without stepping on all of their toes and covering a single topic multiple times?
Merge them. Take each blog on a singular topic and piece them together into the ultimate super-blog.
Refreshing old content is the best way to minimize the decay of old blogs and make sure everything you write continues to drive traffic and remains an efficient member of your blog stable.
Whether it be updating content, adding video, or merging similar blogs, doing this research and work should be part of everyone’s content strategy.