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How to update your content & why it is important for SEO

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Both digital marketers and SEOs know how important it is to create evergreen content with the ability to sustain and drive traffic.

As time passes, your website’s SEO can be affected by the decay of content. Content marketers don’t like to hear these words, but they are the harsh reality.

This article will explain how to detect content decay early. Next, I will discuss how to update older content and at what frequency you should do so. Let’s first review why updating older content can be beneficial for your website.

Why update your content?

Bots are used by search engines such as Google and Bing to index and rank websites. You can increase your crawl rate for bots by updating older content and optimizing it for SEO. Search engines will be more likely to see your content if it is crawled more often.

You can find out when Googlebot last viewed your page. Search for your blog in Google, click on the drop-down menu next to the URL and then click “cached”. You will get the exact date and time of Google’s most recent indexation.

Updated content is also more appealing to readers. We all know that fresh, consistent content always wins over old and stale content. Content marketers who are savvy update and optimize their old content in order to prevent content decay.

What is the content decay?

Anyone who uses Google Analytics regularly knows that content decay is the natural decline in website traffic over time.

The web traffic can be very volatile. Traffic can fluctuate wildly. Certain months, especially those with holidays, may see a decline in traffic.

It’s perfectly normal for traffic levels to fluctuate regularly.

Traffic steadily decreasing over a period of months is a sign of long-term decay. This could be anywhere between 15 and 40 percent (or even higher) of traffic decreasing month-over-month. However, the numbers may vary depending on how well an article performed in previous months.

Here is an example of how content decay can look using one of our articles.

As you can see, traffic remained steady after the initial crawl of October 2018, but started to drop in late May 2019. This article was a candidate for optimization and updating because the traffic month-over-month had slowed to a crawl.

Important: Do not confuse sharp drops in traffic with content decay. This is more than likely a regular pattern of peaks and valleys in Web traffic. Keep an eye out for articles that show this behavior, and make sure you check in after a couple of weeks to update.

How to update content

Here are some practical ways to update outdated content.

Refocus on keywords

Content marketers should have a reliable SEO tool like Moz, Ahrefs or SEMrush. These tools can provide valuable SEO insights, particularly when it comes time to research keywords.

Use an SEO tool to check for keyword gaps. Maybe an article was written years before you purchased software. Perhaps your keyword research has changed dramatically. It’s possible that your old content is not hitting the target keywords. You won’t find out until you refocus.

Headers can be changed.

Google’s search engine has evolved since its initial days, when it was keyword-centric. It is now more user-centric. This means that your H1, H2, H3, and H4 tags must make sense in terms of semantics while targeting keywords.

You can answer this question by conducting a more detailed keyword research.

Tip 1 – Structure your headers so that they make sense to the reader. If your H2 says “time management tips,” your H3s will be specific tips with a semantic focus.

Tip 2 – Answer questions clearly in each header. Google can pull content under header tags as featured snippets, the highest ranking possible in its search results. This is an example of one of our articles that pulled the featured snippet on “how much do YouTubers earn?”

Content that is clear, concise and informative. Users and search engines alike are searching for this type of content.

Rewrite meta descriptions

Google does not use meta descriptions to determine rankings, but the CTR is a factor that it uses when evaluating the quality of search results. You should update meta descriptions as if you were an advertising copywriter.

What is it that will make someone click through to your website from the meta description? What is your meta description compared to those that are currently ranking at the top of page one? Now is the time to be creative. Run a few different variations with your team.

Try out new headlines

Digital content has made us more impulsive, but also more aware of it. In digital content, 8/10 people will not read beyond the headline. This gives marketers a 20% chance of generating traffic. Consider updating the headlines of your articles to make them more interesting.

What makes a title stand out?

Create a list article that has clear expectations for your reader. As an example, you could write “20 SEO tips for today’s marketers.”

Use the current year as the headline. You could say, “Top SEM trends to look for in 2021.”

Try “bait” titles that will make your article irresistible. You could use “5 Email subject lines with perfect open-rates” as an example. Just make sure you don’t trick your audience by using a headline that doesn’t match what they will learn after clicking through.

SEO optimized images

Do you have any images in the content that you are updating? Start by checking if there are any images. According to Search Engine Journal content with visual elements such as images or videos receives up to 94 per cent more views.

 

Other image SEO tips include

Images that are relevant to your brand and audience should be used.

Brand authority is enhanced by images that are appealing, such as custom infographics.

Google’s image search results are a good place to display branded images.

When writing alt-text, be descriptive.

Other tips on updating content

You should still be aware of a few things when updating older content after you’ve gone through the above tactics.

Firstly, ensure that you are changing the content of your page. If you are referencing a study that is outdated, find one that is more current. Your audience will not be interested in your outdated content.

Check each website you link to, and ensure that none of the links is broken. Linking to 404 errors is at least a bad user experience.

Are you aware of internal links? It’s time to get started.

Include links to relevant pages and posts in your content. Search engines can better understand your website’s importance by using a strong interlinking system.

You’ll see positive results if you use all my tips to update old content.

Here’s a screenshot of traffic for the article that I mentioned earlier. You can see for yourself what I did after I optimized and updated it.

How often should I update my old content?

There’s no set rule for updating content. However, it might be a good idea to check older articles every quarter to see if there are any signs of decay.

The test is passed by articles that can sustain traffic. You should closely monitor articles that are on a downward trend (based on how important they are to your traffic overall).

What type of content do you need to update?

When creating an optimization list, consider the following questions: When creating your optimization list, consider the following questions:

Does the content still apply to your business?

Does this article have the potential to get more traffic than it currently does? This can be measured by using an SEO tool. However, all articles do not have the same limit.

Does the article have a purpose other than gaining organic traffic? Is it primarily a play for social/sales? Not all content should be optimized for organic traffic.

Has the article had previous success in gaining traffic before? This could indicate that you need to retarget your keywords or acquire more links.

Wrapping up

Modern content marketing strategies can’t rely on old-fashioned “set it and forget it” methods. Content is dynamic, and every day a different story is told through data.

Marketers who are successful can use these data to identify content decay, and then take the appropriate steps to reinvigorate their content.

Use the tips and tricks for content marketing mentioned above to give old content a new look and boost traffic!

 

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