Breathe New Life into Old Posts for an SEO Boost
When was the last time you read something you wrote years ago? If you’ve been running a blog for several years already, you probably don’t think much about blog posts from long ago. Yet, if they’re up and optimized, other people are still finding and reading them. When you’re searching for a new way to take your SEO strategy to the next level, those old posts may be worth another look.
There are several great reasons why it’s a good idea to update old blogs.
For one thing, if you’re doing SEO right, then a lot of your monthly web traffic probably comes from old posts, especially if that traffic is coming from organic search. This means that they might be reading outdated or stale content without noticing the publish date. You might be tempted to respond by publishing a new post on the topic, but Google will penalize you for duplicate content. Update the old post instead, and you improve its conversion rates.
Another good reason is that updating an old post is faster and easier than writing a new one. This gives you more options for maintaining a consistent publishing schedule and can potentially save you a bit of time and effort from time to time.
Finally, and most importantly, updating a high-performing post you published in the past helps your best content live longer and produce better results over time.
So, how do you decide which posts to update, and how do you go about updating them?
Choosing Which Posts to Update
There are two main questions to ask yourself when deciding which blog posts are worth updating: “Which blogs have performed best in the past,” and “Do readers want this content right now?”
Which Posts Performed Well?
Your first step should be to use your analytics software to investigate how your past posts have done. Here are top metrics to consider:
- Traffic: In the past full month, which old posts have continued to generate traffic?
- Social Sharing: Enter a post’s URL at linktally.com. This free tool tells you how many times the post has been shared on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media networks. Shares are a good way to identify a high-performing post with solid SEO value.
- Inbound Links: Which posts have the most inbound links? This is arguably the most important metric, because inbound links strongly indicate search authority.
- Keywords: Trying to rank better for certain keywords? See if you have posts which already rank for those keywords whose ranking positions you can improve.
Is This Content Current or Trending?
Sometimes a topic you’ve previously covered becomes current again, and your readership is interested in content about it again. Situations like this can trump even the metric considerations listed above. Don’t let your readers dig for old and outdated content on a topic that’s trending—update your past post and re-publish to make it fresh again.
Best Practices for Updating and Republishing Old Blog Posts
Now that you’ve determined which posts to target, you can begin the process of updating them. Here’s a rundown of best practices to keep in mind.
Track Metrics Before and After Updating
If you’re going to put in the effort to overhaul a blog, you’ll also want a clear picture of how that effort has impacted the blog’s performance. Make sure to record the post’s metrics before you update so that later you can compare against the metrics since the update. This will help you learn which posts benefit most from updates. Metrics you should record include:
- Title (in case you adjust it)
- Publish dates
- Number of views
- Number of inbound links
- Number of social shares
- Number of comments
- Number of leads generated (month before and month after)
- Keyword rankings
Modify the Old Post and Keep the URL
As mentioned above, publishing a new blog post on the topic will get you penalized for duplicate content. This is why you want to instead go in and edit and update the old post. It’s also important to keep the URL the same, even if you update the title. This way, inbound links will still work, without having to lose SEO value with a redirect.
While we’re on the subject of tweaking the title: if you do this, don’t make the change too drastic. You should also remember to try and keep the keywords in the title to retain the SEO value.
Change Anything That’s No Longer Accurate
Next you’ll want to go through the content itself. You can start by deleting sections which are now irrelevant or inaccurate and adding new headings for sections you want to add. Then, fill those sections out with the new content. Here’s a checklist of changes you should make:
- Remove content that isn’t relevant or accurate anymore
- Remove outdated statistics and data and add more current, fresher numbers
- Change copy that reads stale or outdated
- If it’s a step-by-step guide or other post that includes screenshots, update those if they’re outdated
- Switch out old SEO best practices for current best practices
- Make sure your internal and external links still work. Replace ones which are broken, and see if there are better resources available that can replace others.
- Evaluate whether the call-to-action is still the one that best serves this post, and change it if appropriate
Review the Meta Description
The content itself isn’t the only text worth reviewing. Since you’ve changed the content, you’ll also want to edit your meta description to make sure that it still accurately reflects the contents of the post. This is also a chance to make it a bit more enticing to increase click-through rates.
Add an Editor’s Note
Readers who saw the old post might be confused by the republished post and think you’re dishonesty recycling content. It may also be confusing to see comments on the post from months or years before the publish date. Clear all this up with a simple editor’s note. Say when the post was originally published, and that it has been updated for accuracy and relevance.
Republish and Notify Subscribers
At this point, you’re ready to republish the updated blog post. As stated earlier, you should be updating the old post’s content and publish date in your blogging software, not making a new post.
However, if your subscribers automatically get emails when there’s a new post, they won’t get one from an old post being updated. Create a manual notification email so that they see it. You can even use the same template so they won’t know the difference.
So, there you have it—you’ve updated an old blog post and boosted your SEO value with minimal time and effort invested. Remember to record the post’s metrics a month later to see how the update has impacted it, and continue to watch for good opportunities for updates.
If you’re seeking help implementing these and other digital marketing strategies to grow your business, Frontier Marketing has the professional expertise you need. We employ a specialized team experienced in SEO, graphic design, content writing, email marketing, and more. Give us a call at (847) 254-0837 today and see how we can help your company reach the next frontier.
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