How to Update Old Content for New and Returning Visitors

Fresh, relevant content is vital in content marketing. Consistently publishing new content isn’t the only way to achieve this. Often, you need to revisit the archives and revise past assets to reflect new data, thoughts, or strategies. But how can you streamline the process? We’re going to explore how to update old content for new and returning visitors.

Why Is It Important to Update Old Content?

Updating old content can provide opportunities to engage with those who are just meeting your brand for the first time. The first impression of your business should be one that builds credibility and plants the seed of trust. It’s hard to do that with outdated content.

Conversely, returning visitors also play a role in content updates. While your loyal followers are eager to consume new content, they also may appreciate updates on key topics.

Refreshing content has many SEO benefits. It can boost your organic rankings and drive more traffic when you add to old content. There’s proof for this statement. Databox, a technology platform, experimented with updating old posts. In six months, they increased website traffic by 75 percent.

Databox example - traffic growth after update old content

Image: Databox

It’s also important to understand that updating and adding backlinks is a positive signal to others (including Google), because sites don’t want to link to old news. New backlinks can improve organic ranking.

While updating old content should be part of your content strategy, it isn’t always easy to operationalize the process.

The Challenges of Updating Old Content

The challenge of doing this for enterprise teams is the amount of content to overhaul. It can be overwhelming, but it’s possible to use technology to help you get there.

By using a content marketing platform, you can leverage technology to assist with the process. That’s the biggest hurdle, but there are others. Such as:

  • What will you update?
  • How often should you refresh content?
  • How will you prioritize content updates?

Answering these questions will provide the foundation for making content governance (a.k.a. content maintenance) a pivotal part of your content marketing efforts versus an afterthought.

How to Update Old Content: What and How

Now, let’s discuss how to develop a process for updates and the necessary steps to doing the work.

What Will You Update?

In choosing what content to update, several things can make this methodical and not just a guess.

Look at Content Metrics

Your content analytics tell the story of performance. They can provide critical insights that signal when it’s time to refresh. If you find that the traffic to a post is decreasing rapidly, this could be a sign that it’s no longer relevant to your reader. Content that still has steady, high traffic levels could also be a priority.

The point is to look at the data, not arbitrarily start refreshing the oldest content. With metrics on pageviews, social media engagement, clicks, and conversions, you have a full view of what your audience cares about the most.

Assess Pages with Multiple Backlinks

If you have content with lots of backlinks because it offers original data or thought leadership, you want to keep it up to date. If you don’t, you’re likely to lose existing backlinks and not gain any new ones.

To ensure you keep them, update the content and plan an outreach to those websites linking to your content. For example, they might be linking to a post you created with valuable data points. Let them know you’ve updated it and why, so they’ll continue to see you as a reputable source.

Don’t Waste Time Updating Stuff Without a Clear Reason

Be purposeful in what you update. If you’ve had a heavy focus on publishing evergreen content, much of it might not need a refresh. But you may find that even evergreen topics decrease in relevance. Follow the data and make decisions based on what matters to your audience.

How Will You Update Content?

Next, let’s talk about the process. First, do you have a formal process? If not, create one. If you do have one, could it be better?

The first step in the process is a content audit. These exercises offer lots of insights. They can tell you what content pillars and buyer personas you’re hitting and where gaps are. Going through your content to assess value will also reveal important information about traffic, such as whether it’s declining or increasing. It’s a good idea to do these audits twice a year if possible.

From the audit, you’ll can start to prioritize which assets make sense to update. Then you should work that into your content calendar. A content calendar isn’t just for new projects. It should encompass maintenance to-dos as well. Schedule these updates and assign the necessary resources—SEO specialists, writers, designers, etc.

Once they become part of content management, you begin to simplify the process and operationalize it.

Define What to Update

An update shouldn’t just be a few tweaks here and there. It should be specific. Update categories include:

  • New data or statistics
  • Inclusion of new regulations or laws
  • Improving SEO with current best practices or additional keywords that are new
  • Adding a section on the response from the topic
  • Changing formatting to make it more readable
  • Inserting more images or videos
  • Updating product imagery

How Often Should You Update?

How often you update content will depend on several factors. An interesting statistic to consider is that it takes two years for a blog post to reach the maximum number of impressions. The study breaks down content phases. Half of the impressions happen within the first week to 10 days. At 30 days, it reaches 72 percent, and the last 28 percent happens from 30 to 700 days.

lifetime value of a blog post

Image: Izea

This information could impact how often you update. You don’t want to do it too soon. There may also be other elements at play that make updates more urgent, such as big changes in an industry or organization. Revisiting old content at least twice a year is a good start.

Ready to Update Old Content?

Now you have tips and guidelines about how to start a repeatable, valuable process of updating content. It’s time to put it into action. Remember, technology is your friend here, so feel free to check out how our platform can support you. Try it out for free today.