When companies started blogging in the early 2000s, they published every day. They published multiple times a day and created massive libraries of posts hoping it would generate massive traffic and sales. Companies didn’t always worry about producing quality content and just focused on quantity and keywords.
Today, we’ve understood that you generate traffic and sales with quality content, no matter how often you publish. But some sites have a significant back catalog of posts just sitting there. What should you do with them? Leave them? Ignore them? Delete them?
By updating these old blog posts, you can deliver more value to readers and customers, while bumping up your SEO rank and search engine results. It’s not just a matter of changing a single character or image, but truly updating the post with new information and then republishing it.
Let’s go over how to update old blog posts the “right” way so search engines will notice and increase your SEO rank every time.
Why You Should Update Old Articles
Marketing teams will try to avoid updating old posts because of the sheer number of them lurking on the blog. The idea of going back through hundreds or thousands of posts, and analyzing them to see which ones are candidates for updating gives many of you a headache. It gives search engines a headache too, and if they have to crawl a thousand URLs to find your 50 best posts, they’re going to come by less frequently in the future.
Customers and readers view your posts as an extension of your brand. Improving the content you’ve already published helps shape how people see you as an authority in your industry or market. It can give your content library a more precise focus, make it more discoverable, and ensures you’re providing value at every touchpoint.
From a website perspective, the Google search algorithm rewards freshness, so by updating your old posts and republishing them, you’ll get a bump in traffic. (Likely from other search engines too, but since they don’t publish much about how their algorithms work like Google does, I can’t comment on them.)
Here’s an excellent example from HubSpot on how an old blog post updating program can boost traffic and leads.
Before starting their old post updating program, they were getting 76 percent of their blog’s monthly traffic from old posts (they defined “old” as ones published prior to the current month.) They were also getting 92 percent of monthly blog leads from these old posts, with nearly half of them coming from just 30 posts. Thirty posts out of nearly 6,000 were generating almost all of their monthly blog leads!
After they started updating old posts, they increased search views of old posts by 106 percent and more than doubled the number of monthly leads generated by old posts. Impressive numbers.
The Goal of Updating Old Posts
While your stats are probably not the same as HubSpot, you probably are generating a small percentage of traffic and views with those old posts. These blog posts were worth investing in when you originally wrote them, and it’s worth getting the most out of them and ensuring they aren’t holding your site (and your business) back by updating them.
The overall goal of updating your old blog posts for SEO is to improve the search rankings for them. Ideally, these are already high-converting posts; you just want more eyes on them since they’re your best content. But you can use these tips on your lowest-converting content too if you don’t have a lot of posts and you want to get more traffic on all of them.
The Benefits of Updating Old Posts
Marketing managers and copywriters love updating old posts because they’re a scalable marketing activity with a high ROI. You’ll spend less time updating a post than creating a brand new one. Your marketing team can update and republish old posts regularly, with minimal interruption of any new content creation they’re doing (which they are still doing because new content is still valuable.) It makes for a better user experience for organic search visitors because they’d see newly updated information or stats in the posts.
How to Update Old Blog Posts to Increase Their SEO Rank
Step 1: Identify the Posts to Update
Choose posts that you can improve in some way, like swap in newer stats or new images or diagrams. They should also be ones that have the potential to rank higher for keywords whose search volume is promising.
Step 2: Update the Content
Update the content to make it more accurate, fresh, and comprehensive. There may be newer information that applies to the subject that rounds it out much better than when you originally wrote it. Or a better image that explains the concept. Any change you make should be noticeable and valuable to the post. Don’t just change a couple of words here and there. Really add to the value you’re delivering in the post.
Step 3: Add or Update the Keywords on the Post
This is optional if you haven’t done a deep dive on your keywords and want to leave them as-is. If you have new keywords you’d like the content to rank for, add them naturally to the content and in the metadata for the post (meta description, snippet, etc.). Don’t forget to remove the old keywords you no longer want to rank for.
Step 4: Publish Your Post as New
Next, you want to publish your post as new on the blog, so update the date on it. How you do this will depend on your content management system (CMS) you use (WordPress, Squarespace, etc.). You want to change the date even if you’re not publishing it on the post itself since your CMS uses this info to store it.
Step 5: Promote Your Post
Finally, you should promote the updated post just like any other content. Email it to your blog subscribers, promote it on your social media channels, and leverage any other marketing channels that you use.
Publishing new blog posts is a great way to optimize your website. Search engines love new content and will use that “freshness” as part of their algorithm when serving up results to users. Updating old posts to be new again is a great way to harness the power of your older posts and bump up your search engine results. Plus, users will continue to get more value out of your content, which is why you’re publishing in the first place, right?