25 Tips for Updating Old Blog Posts for SEO & Boosting Organic Traffic

25 Tips for Updating Old Blog Posts for SEO & Boosting Organic Traffic |  Databox Blog

Earlier this year, we updated 24 old blog posts. The result? A 75% increase in website traffic.

Imagine the impact you’d experience by almost doubling your website traffic. You’d see more sign-ups, email subscribers, and revenue, right?

While most teams focus on pumping out new content, the reality is, you can generate more results from tending to the content that’s already been published on your website.

Chances are, you’ve got a backlog of old content on your website, posts that haven’t been touched in the 2+ years since you published them.

But while you might not be checking in with them, there’s a possibility that your target customers (and Google) are visiting them regularly. If they’re not up-to-scratch, it could be sabotaging your entire content marketing strategy.

Why Is It important to Update Old Blog Posts?

Before we dive in, let’s cover the foundations and think about why you should be updating old blog posts (instead of just hitting “publish” on a new piece every week.)

Updating old content helps with these three areas:

Get more backlinks

“Your blog post is now fully up to date and relevant to your audience again. If you’re the first among your content competitors to update a post on a particular topic, you are in a prime position to poach their existing backlinks,” says John Butterworth of CRCC Asia.

“The reason for this? No external site wants to link to outdated content.”

“For example, if you’ve updated a blog post on Academy Award winners to include 2020’s results, but your competitors haven’t, then sites linking to your competitor’s post are linking to outdated content.”

“By using a backlink checker tool, such as Ahrefs, you can see which sites are linking to your competitor’s post. From there, reach out to those sites and inform them that they’re linking to yesterday’s news and offer your newly updated blog post as an alternative.”

“In my experience, the owners of these sites are delighted that somebody has done the hard work for them and are more than willing to link to your blog post.”

Build reader loyalty

We’ve touched on the fact that readers (and potential customers) might be landing on your outdated content.

“Simply by keeping our entire content up-to-date provides a certain brand trust and loyalty as readers understand that we’re not creating content just for the sake of building fresh content, but to share helpful guides and provide value,” Latana‘s Joy Corkery explains.

Stay up-to-date with SEO best practices

Kiwi Creative‘s Dylan Zsigray explains that “it’s important to not forget about the best practices associated with SEO.”

“The industry practices for blogs in 2017 differ from the best practices today, so it’s best also to take a look at your headings, blog structure, links, and images to ensure you’re meeting the ranking factors Google is looking for.”

It’s true: If we look at SEO best practices back in 2010, you’d be advised to keyword stuff and build black hat links–two practices that could land a Google penalty, should you do them today.

Reviewing old content, and bringing them up to modern-day standards, is a great way to make sure they’re SEO-friendly.

How to Choose Which Content to Refresh?

Now that we know why updating old content should be a priority for your website let’s move onto the tricky part: Finding the blog posts you should refresh.

Our experts have three ways to do this:

Look at pages with lots of high-quality links

When choosing which old content to update, Zety‘s Michael Tomaszews recommends “Find the blogs on your site that have racked up some solid links from other outlets, but that don’t rank particularly well.”

“These pages have lots of authority and a ranking potential that’s worth its weight in gold. All you need to do next is to give the page a refresh, and sooner or later, you’ll see a spike in traffic.”

Find pages with the most traffic

“My one tip for updating old blog posts is to focus on the pages that have the most traffic first,” says Thomas Brodbeck of Found Search Marketing.

“I have talked to others who focus on updating the oldest posts first, but I think updating the posts that have the most traffic to serve the user best.”

Brodbeck continues: “When looking at your most trafficked blog posts and see what data might be dated and look to see if new information has come about. I recommend looking over your blog posts a couple of times a year with the help of an SEO dashboard.”

Juli Durante of Impulse Creative adds: “The most important part of updating old blog posts for SEO, for me, is making sure the posts you update are posts where you *want* to grow traffic.”

“I’ve often seen someone update the 10 oldest posts – that’s great, and I would venture to guess that those 10 old posts could use a refresh in general, but do they convert well? Do you have newer content that is related to them? Is it a topic that still matters today?”

“A blog republishing strategy should be looking forward as actively as it is looking backward,” Durante says.

Prioritize pages with lots of keyword impressions but low rankings

When picking content to start with, Scorpion‘s Emily Brady advises to “be smart about which posts you choose to update. I’m a HUGE fan of updating old posts for SEO, but it only works if you target the right content.”

“One way to do this is through Google Search Console. You can filter your URLs by blog (if your site is organized that way), then start looking for queries that have a LOT of impressions and are within striking distance of ranking.”

“Depending on how successful your site is, “within striking distance” could mean an average position between 6 and 16. Again, this is relative to how well the majority of your blogs are already performing.”

“Then, see which page is showing up for that query. That’s the page you probably want to revamp next!”

Katie Gerweck of Pure Visibility adds: “You can use an SEO tool like Ahrefs to identify blogs that are currently ranking on page 2 of the search results. These pages are good candidates for updating because they likely have the potential to rank on page 1, but need additional optimization to get there.”

*Editor’s note: Don’t fancy digging through your Google Search Console account to find these opportunities? Our Decaying Site Pages & Posts dashboard template does it for you. You’ll see how the organic sessions and clicks change for each page over time:

Don’t waste time updating old content that doesn’t need to be updated

It can be easy to think that every blog post should be added to your “update” list.

However, Chelsea Roller of Rank Fuse Interactive says: “Our number one tip for updating old blog posts is to make sure a post truly needs to be updated. You don’t want to waste time and resources on updating a blog post before it really needs to be redone.”

You should be creating a process for this – something 67% of experts we polled said they have:

Roller continues: “To do this, we use tools like Moz and SEMRush to perform content audits. These tools allow us to see if traffic on our blogs has started to decline and show us how we can improve our content with keywords.”

“We often find that we need a refresh every year to year and a half, and if we are repurposing or redoing content too quickly, Google doesn’t always keep up as well as we’d like. Also, if we are constantly updating one post, we don’t have time to update others or create new content.”

“For this reason, we try to come back to a piece of content a year after it was written to reevaluate the content, data, keywords, images, and anything else that is part of the blog. However, if it is still performing really well, we might only make a couple of minor changes,” Roller adds.

Summarizing, Borislav Ivanov of Best Response Media says: “The main thing is to make sure you have a reason to update the content. Just because it is old doesn’t mean that it is not good enough or that it is no longer valid.”

Earlier, we shared the three techniques you can use to determine which old blog posts should be updated.

For the majority of our experts, this is once a quarter:

One important thing to note is the lifetime value and lifespan of a blog post.

According to a study commissioned by Izea and executed by the Halverson group, it was discovered that it takes about two years for a blog post to reach the maximum number (99%) of its impressions.

More interestingly, the study found that most blog posts undergo three unique life phases, including:

  • Shout phase: The blog post records an exponential increase in impressions (about 50% of its impressions) in the first 7-10 days.
  • Echo phase: The blog post realizes 72% of its impressions; this usually lasts for about 30 days after the shout phases elapses.
  • Reverberate: The blog post records the remaining 28% of its impressions over the duration of 30-700 days.

With this in mind, we can all agree that there are tons of opportunities provided by updating your old blog posts, such as generating clicks, impressions, and conversions.

So, how do you update and republish your old blog posts for improved SEO?

25 Ways To Update Old Blog Posts for SEO

You’ve got a list of old blog posts you want to refresh for an SEO (and user experience) boost.

But what does a “content refresh” actually look like?

We asked 100+ experts exactly that. Their answers include:

  1. Consolidate mid-performing content
  2. Add the current year to your heading tag
  3. Update meta tags for keywords with a low CTR
  4. Answer “people also ask” questions
  5. Improve your search intent match
  6. Add internal links to recent content
  7. Link to new research studies
  8. Scan for (and remove) broken links
  9. Add Schema markup
  10. Change the formatting or layout
  11. Take inspiration from competitors
  12. Research the industry
  13. Boost rankings for keywords you’re already ranking for
  14. Target new keywords
  15. Add videos or images
  16. Update product and app photos
  17. Change the alt text of your images
  18. Set a schedule to update old content
  19. Avoid making too many drastic changes
  20. Add expert quotes
  21. Don’t change the URL
  22. Remove brand-specific mentions
  23. Rewrite your introduction
  24. Treat old content as new content
  25. Repromote your updated blog post