Update Content: How to Refresh Old Content for SEO

Cait Carter
Kassidy Vavra
Published: Jan 18, 2022
Last Updated:
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When your blog isn’t performing as well as you’d like, it can feel like a punch in the gut. But the truth is that even the best blogs stagnate at times. The key to having a top-performing business blog is understanding how SEO (search engine optimization) works and knowing how to update content to best promote your blog.

This guide walks you step-by-step through the content update process. By the time you finish reading, you’ll be a master of keeping your blog relevant, improving your SEO results, and bringing new organic traffic to old pieces of content.

man wearing watch typing on laptop

Why Should You Update Content?

Updating website content regularly can increase your search engine rankings, backlinks, and organic traffic. 51% of marketers agree that repurposing old content is one of the most beneficial marketing strategies they use.

Here are just a few of the benefits of updating website content.

Increased Click-Through Rate

By saying that a piece of content has been updated, you can increase the chances of your target audience engaging with it. Most people want to read current content, so when faced with two articles with a similar title, they’ll choose the more recent one. As a result of this tendency, Google prioritizes fresh content. By indicating you've updated your content, Google changes your "freshness score", which can increase the ranking of your site.

Improved Value for Your Reader

Once readers are on your blog post, you want them to have the best possible experience. When you update content, you can fix grammar and spelling mistakes, link to better resources, improve images, and use current statistics. All of these steps make the blog more relevant to your readers, which makes them more likely to become repeat readers of your blog.

Higher SEO Ranking

Updating content is the perfect opportunity to optimize it for its target keyword. Find out the difference between your old content and high-ranking pages. A few, minor content updates can drastically increase the ranking for your site, allowing you to gain more organic users.

How Often Should You Update Old Blog Content?

There is no easy answer to how often you should update old blog content. Many businesses choose to update their blogs all at once a couple of times a year. However, making a large number of changes at once can make your website seem inconsistent and make it hard for search engines to index your site properly.

Instead, make updating blog content part of your regular production schedule. Identify key pieces of content and make changes regularly while adding new posts to your site.

Keeping a Blog Updating Schedule

The best way to stay on track with updating your blog is to keep a content updating schedule for yourself. This may look like updating one to two blog posts per week.

The first step is to do a content audit once or twice a year to determine what pieces of content need to be updated and how intensive those changes need to be. Then, put those updates in priority order, and schedule which ones you will work on each week until your next content audit.

Balance Updating Content with Creating New Content

It’s important never to let updating content take the place of creating new content. However often you update your old content, you should be able to do it in tandem with your normal content creation schedule.

The nice thing about updating old content is that the refreshed pages give you something new to promote on social media sites. This can make it easier to keep up with your normal social media schedule with minimal effort.

Which Blog Content Should You Update?

Updating every blog post you’ve ever written would be a Herculean feat. Instead, you want to know how to prioritize the most important blog content to update. This is where a content audit comes in handy. Running a content audit can help you visualize how all of your blog posts are performing.

Running a Content Audit

Running a content audit is key to knowing which blog posts to update and how to prioritize your content updates. Unfortunately, blog audits can be a time-consuming process. For this reason, most businesses only perform content audits one to three times per year. However, the information you glean from your audit can be used until you run your next audit.

The first step to running your content audit is to take an inventory of all of your content. Tools like SEMRush’s Content Audit Tool can help you collect URLs quickly and easily.

Once you have all of your blog URLs, you’ll want to create a spreadsheet. For each blog post on your website, the spreadsheet should include:

  • The current title
  • The current meta description
  • The URL
  • The date the article was last updated
  • The wordcount

Next, you’ll want to use a tool like SEMRush to determine which keyword(s) each blog post is ranking for, the current SEO rankings, and the monthly traffic.

Determining Which Blog Posts to Update

Once you’ve conducted your content audit, it’s easy to determine which blog posts to update and which ones can be left alone.

When deciding which blog posts to update, look for posts that are:

  • Old or outdated
  • Underperforming
  • Using the same keywords as other blog posts in your arsenal

Prioritizing Your Content Updates

The first blog posts you want to update are any outdated blog posts. For example, if you have a blog post titled “Best Christmas Trends of 2010,” you want to add that to the top of your list of articles to update.

Next, you’ll want to update any posts ranking for the same keywords. When you have multiple blog posts with the same keywords, you compete with yourself for SEO purposes. This is known as content cannibalism. Updating these blog posts by either changing the keywords they’re ranking for or consolidating them can immediately boost your content performance.

Underperforming and old blog posts should be the last items you work on updating. That being said, incredibly old blog posts, have never ranked high for SEO purposes, and may have been written by an inexperienced content writer can be left alone if you don’t have time to update them or removed from your website entirely.

How Do You Make Meaningful Content Updates?

Once you have a list of which blog posts to update and have put that list in priority order, it’s time to make meaningful updates.

When making updates to your content, you have two options: updating them yourself or hiring a freelancer to make the changes for you.

Making the changes yourself can time-consuming process but can save you money if you’re on a tight content marketing budget.

The other option is to hire a freelance writer to do your content updates for you. If you choose to go this route, it’s important to have a clear idea of how you want the updates conducted so that you can give your writer good directions.

Some updates are unique based on the type of content you’re looking to update. Others are best practices regardless of the content you’re updating. Here's a look at the two types of updates and how you can perform them to bolster your content performance.

Content-Specific Updates

The content audit discussed two types of articles that need to be updated first: outdated articles with dates in their title and articles with similar keywords. Here’s what you need to know about updating these specific content types.

Transform Date-Specific Articles Into Evergreen Articles

Date-specific articles aren’t bad. Blog posts like “The Best Christmas Presents for 2022” can gain real SEO traction. But when the year passes, the blog post becomes obsolete — unless you find a way to transform it into an evergreen piece.

For some blog posts, it’s as easy as changing the title. “Weatherproofing Your House in 2021” can become “Weatherproofing Your House in 2022” — or even just “How to Weatherproof Your House.”

Other articles may do better if you put them into a compilation list. For example, if you like to make a “Best Christmas Present” list every year and want to feature current products, simply updating the headline on last year’s Christmas list may not meet your needs. Instead, you can create an article of “Great Gifts for Any Time of Year,” and each year, you can add to that list using content from your previous year’s Christmas list.

Over time, this gives you a long-form piece of evergreen content that you can link to again and again.

Consolidate Blog Articles with Similar Keywords

When you have multiple blog articles ranking for the same keywords, they compete with each other for SEO purposes. As a result, neither performs as well as it could.

You can fix this issue by consolidating these blog posts into one larger blog post.

For example, if you have one blog post entitled “How to Choose the Best Lipstick for Your Skin Tone” and another titled “How to Choose the Best Lipstick for Your Hair Color,” both posts might rank for the search term “How to Choose the Best Lipstick.” You can solve this problem by creating one blog post called “How to Choose the Best Lipstick” and creating subheadings within the article that addresses “The Best Lipstick for Your Hair Color” and “The Best Lipstick for Your Skin Tone.”

The result is a longer article than either of your two original blog posts that better answer the overall question posed by the keyword.

When you consolidate articles in this way, it’s important to remember to redirect the old URLs to the new, consolidated URL location. That way, any website that linked to those previous articles will instead link to the new long-form article, and you continue receiving traffic directed by backlinks.

Changes Relevant for All Content Updates

Some content updates are important regardless of what’s contained in your blog posts. This includes search engine optimization, updating inbound and outbound links, and improving the image and video quality.

Optimize Blog Content for SEO

Old content doesn't always follow SEO best practices. This can lead to a decrease in search engine placement for target keywords with a high monthly search volume. By optimizing your old content, you can see a massive search engine traffic increase. Start by including your target keyword in the following areas:

  • Title
  • Meta description
  • In one to two headers
  • Once per 300 to 500 words
  • Image alt-text

For key articles, use SEO Tools to make detailed changes and target primary keywords. By changing an old post into high-quality content, you can improve its organic search ranking and gain more traffic.

Update Internal and External Links

If you’re dealing with old content, there’s a good chance that the links are equally old. Update old statistics with new statistics, add fresh links from newer sources, and include internal links to some of your newer blog posts to give your content a fresh, updated feel.

Add High-Quality Videos or Images

High-quality videos can give your article a multimedia presence that helps it perform better on social media. If possible, locate high-quality videos when updating blog content for your website.

But if high-quality videos aren’t an option for your article, you at least want to ensure you’re using professional-quality images that tell a story.

How Do You Promote Refreshed Blog Content?

Once you've gone through the effort of updating your blog content, your next step is to promote that content. Luckily, you can promote refreshed content the same way you promote new content.

As you make your updates, share the content on your social media channels the same way you would any other content. Most of your readers won’t realize that the content is reused, and even those who read the content the first time it came out will notice the efforts you made to update the content this time around.

Boost Your Blog Performance with Meaningful Content Updates

Making meaningful content updates can drastically improve your content performance and help your business blog reach new audiences. Get started today by running your content audit. Once you have your content analysis in hand, you can prioritize which blog posts to update and create your content update calendar for the following year.

Making meaningful content updates is a key part of any content strategy. It can help you reach your content goals while bringing in new visitors through search engines and social media. The key is to update blog posts regularly while creating new, original content.


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