Best practices for updating content
The process of updating old content can be time consuming, especially if your website has been around for a while. It’s best to plan to work on this project on an ongoing basis, instead of all at once.
Before you get started, here are some general best practices to follow:
Conduct a content audit
Realistically, you’re not going to have time to give enough attention to every single article that needs to be updated. To make the best use of your time, it’s important to determine which pieces of content are most likely to have the biggest impact. This is where a content audit comes in.
A content audit is designed to review all the existing content on your website and assess its performance. In this case, the objective is to identify older articles that have lost significant traffic since they were first published. This is how you narrow down exactly which articles are worth updating. Content that was once successful is a lot more likely to bounce back. Other key factors to consider are relevance and keywords. Aim to select content that was written to target high volume, evergreen keywords. For example, an article about social media video marketing is a better candidate for an update than an article written about the now-defunct Vine platform.
Create a checklist to follow
No two pieces of content are the same and some will need more work than others. By now, you’re probably wondering exactly what changes are necessary to make in order to see a significant improvement in content performance. Research shows that changes made to the body text of the article are more important to search engines.
To keep your work organized and uniform, create a checklist to follow for each article that you update. Here are some changes to consider adding to your checklist:
- Verify the reader intent of the keyword you’re targeting. Does the message of the article directly align with what readers are looking for when they search for this term?
- Assess the catchiness of the headline compared to the competing articles. How can you improve your headline to stand out?
- Update graphics and other visual elements that no longer fit your brand design guidelines.
- Sift through all of the internal and external links to make sure the content that you’re linking to is updated and accurate. If there are broken links, fix them.
- Identify opportunities to update on-page SEO elements such as the meta description and image alt-text.
- Check for grammatical errors and writing style. When it comes to writing, there’s no right or wrong but you should aim to have a unified brand voice across all of your pieces.
Some changes are quick fixes, while others can take several hours if a full rewrite of the article is deemed necessary. Once you think the piece is in good shape, re-publish it and update the post date. This is done differently based on the web content management system you use, so be sure to check with your specific software provider on how to do this.
Promote updated pieces on social media
Once your article is republished, promote it across your social media accounts. This will help get new eyes on the piece and give it an extra boost. If you already use a social media suite tool, scheduling old content into rotation should be a fairly simple step.
Track progress and adjust accordingly
If you haven’t already invested in SEO software, now is the time to do it. This type of solution is essential to tracking the performance of the content you’re updating so you can understand if your efforts are making an impact. In addition to user traffic, most SEO tools allow you to measure the number of backlinks and keywords picked up by your articles. When you have the ability to track progress, you can replicate the process if it’s working or make adjustments to your strategy if you’re not getting the results you hoped for. Give your newly updated articles a month or so to see how they’re performing.
New is not always better. If your marketing strategy needs a much-needed boost, consider investing time in updating old content no matter if you’re targeting general SEO or local SEO. If executed correctly, a content refresh can help you generate noteworthy traffic results, keep your audience engaged, and show search engines that your blog post is worthy of the #1 spot on the SERPs.