How to update your old content for better rankings and SEO

How to update your old content

The purpose of creating content for your website is to rank higher in search engines and attract more traffic. For this very reason, a lot of online marketers ensure their new content is equipped with on-page and off-page SEO optimization, relevant keywords and image insertions, etc. But do you think only the new content deserves to rank higher and bring more traffic? A considerable amount of traffic and your SEO are owned to your old content. This is why you must consider reviewing and updating your content frequently. But, how to update your old content?

What parameters and factors you should consider while updating your old content? You will find the answer to these questions and many others in this post. Before we dive into updating, let’s analyze why you need to update your old content.

The fear factor with updating the old content

A lot of people fear thinking that updating or deleting their old content might not go down well with search engines. It creates a doubt that doing this may cost their website a big chunk of traffic and rankings. Well, it does if it is done in a haste without any strategy and planning.

There are a few things to consider and a method to update, modify, or even delete your old content. And doing it with a proper procedure will not decline the traffic or reduce the rankings. On the contrary, it can improve your website rankings and give your website more authority among search engines.

In the end, it is not a bad thing to update or improve your old content. A lot of experienced online marketers prefer to work on their old content strategically. This is the reason they always remain search engines’ favorites who give their content priority irrespective of the date and duration.

Why you should consider updating your old content?

Working on old content is one of the criteria that is loved by search engines. It is an indication that you take your content and website seriously and search engines love to show the content that is fresh, valuable, and meaningful for their visitors.

No matter how occupied you remain with adding new content, but it is also important to relook at your old content. Follow the method of updating your old content schedule-wise.

Making changes, especially deletion of old content all at once is not recommended. Go one by one and try doing it in a phased manner.

Identifying the old content

Some websites have so much content. So, how do you identify if the content of your website is old and needs an upgrade? There are usually 3 factors:

Date: Check for the dates of your posts. In normal circumstances, a post or an article dating back 2-3 years will be an ideal one to look for.

Topic or subject: The topic is another factor. Check if the topic that you have addressed earlier is still relevant.

Search engine rankings: Rankings are what you aim for while writing content. Find out from the analysis if that post or a page is ranking for the keyword you aimed for in the search engines since you published it the first time. Keep a margin of at least 6-8 months.

You may consider any one factor or in some cases, you may have to consider all the three factors when updating your old content.

What are the factors or points you should look to update in your old content?

There are basically two factors to look for:

One is identifying the small and minor changes in your content,

Two are major changes where you have to completely redo, re-write or delete the whole content.

Minor changes

Look for the below points to update your old content:

Inserting additional content: Inserting or adding more content refers to improving your old content with relevant information.

This means adding anything that you have recently found about the topic and based on your knowledge and research you can go ahead and add that piece of information in the beginning, between, or at the end of your article. The rest of the content remains the same.

Inserting or adding (more) images/visuals: If you find that your old content does not have any image or maybe just one image to relate with, you can go ahead and add another image.

You can also improve your content’s authority by adding a relevant video. Images/visuals are an important part to improve rankings based on the image description.

Re-purposing your existing content: This is where you decide to re-write the whole content basis your personal knowledge and expertise. This is like following an end-to-end SEO checklist, image optimization, headlines, splitting paragraphs, and re-wording the whole content.

The purpose of doing this is to make your content look more professional and get rid of the classic material it had when you started to learn about writing content.

Updating Meta title and description: This is another way to improve your old content. Just for the purpose that you didn’t know how important Meta title and Meta description play their part in rankings, you can revisit the posts and change those two components according to the requirements of SEO.

Updating the dates: When we say dates these are purely content dates. It has nothing to do with the post-date/publish date. The most relevant example of updating dates is product review where you write content reviewing products based on years.

Like best of content in 2020, or best content to write in 2019, etc. Just going ahead and updating that 2019, and 2020 into the current year.

Major changes

Major changes are the scenarios where you find your content or post completely irrelevant to the current scenario. For example, you had written a post some 4-5 years back about a product or a service that no more exists. Or, the information it had has been updated or the product itself has been re-branded, acquired by some other company, etc.

In such cases, you will have to again go through the research, obtain new information, and re-write the whole content. Worst case scenario, you may have to completely delete your old content and write a new post.

Now, the difference between minor and major changes is the effect on rankings. In terms of minor changes, your rankings will not be impacted. In fact, enhancing your content will improve the rankings.

Major changes wherein you are re-writing or creating a new post will have changes to the post URL. In search engines, that is considered as a new post that will be ranked slowly.

What is better? Deleting or improving? 

If you have identified certain posts or content that needs an update, what should you do? Should you go ahead and delete it? Or it can be improved just by adding and tweaking some information?

Improving and deletion depend on what type of content and scenarios you are dealing with.

The first thing to look for is whether the content has any traffic. If the post or a page has nil to 1 visitor up till now since you first published it then it is better to delete that post. But if that same post has quite a bit of turnaround in terms of visitors every day or month, then you should look to improve it.

The second thing to look for is rankings. If there are no rankings for the targeted keyword then it’s time to do changes to your post.

And lastly, check the date criteria. See if the post has crossed at least 6 months to a year to consider improving it.

When you consider deleting a post that has some traffic it is recommended to apply the redirection method. This is done by adopting a 301 permanent redirection method that redirects the traffic for that post to other pages or posts. This is to inform search engines that the post they are sending traffic for has been removed and getting redirected to other sources on your website.

What is the 301 redirection method for updating old content? 

301 is a code that indicates Google and Yahoo about redirecting traffic. This is formally used to send your website visitors for a particular post onto a different post or page owing to its deletion/removal.

How to apply the 301 redirection method for your old content? 

There are many options to do so and most of them are plugins. Some of the examples are the All-in-one SEO plugin and the Pretty Links plugin.

All-in-one SEO plugin may attract cost as the 301 option works on its pro version.

Alternatively, you can use Pretty Links that are used to shorten the URL links. It also has a 301 redirection option. Follow the below steps:

  • Install the Pretty Links plugin and activate
  • Click on the Pretty Links option and go to ‘Add New’
  • Give the link a title
  • Select the option ‘301 (Permanent)’ from the Redirection dropdown menu
  • Insert the deleted post URL in the ‘Target URL’ field
  • Insert the redirection post/page URL in the ‘Pretty Links’ field
  • Click on update to save the changes.

How to check rankings and traffic for a particular post? 

The best way to analyze the traffic and rankings is through GSC (Google Search Console). Follow the steps below and you can find statistics on rankings and traffic:

Go to your website analysis page on GSC

Click on ‘Performance’ and scroll down to ‘Top Queries’. You will see many phrases that you post are ranking for.

Next, click on ‘Pages’. Click the URL that you want to check for updating a post. GSC will create a filter based on your click and display the statistics on traffic and rankings.

Again, click back on ‘Queries’ to check the keywords that the post is ranking for.

If you find the pages or phrases with clicks in the statistics that means your old content has traffic and rankings. If there are no clicks, no pages, and hardly any impressions that means your old content needs improvement.

How to update your old content? 

We know the methods and purpose of updating old content. Now, let’s learn how to update your old content step-by-step.

First, go to your website dashboard and click on all posts. Next, click on the forward arrow. This will take you to the screen showing posts that are really old. Select the posts according to the published date.

Next, go to the post. We know the date, now check the topic. Go through the factors discussed above to update a post. Check the details one-by-one such as topic relevancy, old dates, images, etc. If you find the topic irrelevant, do more research on it. This is to make a decision on improving or deleting that content.

If you find the topic still exists, look for the differences or changes the topic has gone through since the time you wrote about it and now. Do proper research and update your old content.

If the topic is completely irrelevant then you should delete it using the 301 methods, so that you do not lose the connected traffic.

Apart from the topic, ensure to improve the minor changes related to dates, image, meta title, and description.

You can change the title of the post but never change the post URL. Changing the URL may have contrasting effects on rankings and traffic. So, avoid doing it unless you are completely changing the post.

Avoid changing the published date. It is better to have an option of displaying the last updated date on your posts.

Final Conclusion

Improving or updating your old content relies on your instinct. You have to also consider the niche, topic, the current status of your website when you decide to update your old content.

As and when you decide to update the old content, make sure to rewrite the meta description and title.

Changing or improving old content should be part of your schedule once in a while. Keep the content of your website always relevant and updated to maintain and improve SEO rankings, and conversions.

Follow the methods discussed in this article and I am sure you will never lose your website traffic and rankings.

If you are looking for more information on writing, updating, and improving old content then check out my no.1 recommendation here. Not only old content but you can learn how to write new content that converts, build a website, get awesome training and support.


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