How Updating Your Old Content Can Help With Your Rankings

updating old content improve rankings

Do you want to increase your rankings on Google and other search engines?

There’s a strategy that will help you skyrocket those rankings without a lot of extra work.

Yes, you could keep writing and producing more content. But this is complicated and it takes lots of time.

Instead, you can make updates to your old content. It takes less work and delivers faster results.

This illustration from Moz shows how your original content gradually becomes less and less “fresh,” which is one of the factors Google uses to determine the quality of your site.

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To increase the effectiveness of your SEO efforts and boost your search engine traffic, you can just update your old content and give yourself an improved freshness score.

When you tell Google your content is new, you’ll get a spike in traffic that will make the tiny amount of work required well worth it.

Updating your content provides a lot of different benefits. Here are the 14 reasons you should update your old content, and how it will increase your search engine traffic.

Let’s get started.

1. Improve your click-through rate

If you do a Google search for just about any term, you’ll quickly notice the top results are usually published in the past year or so.

For example, a search for “best SEO strategies” on Google brings up these results:

best seo strategies Google Search

You’ll notice that the oldest of them has a date of July 28, 2016, while the newest was published in March of 2016.

The truth is that for a lot of topics, including SEO, times change quickly. Information that was accurate just a few months ago might be completely different now.

This isn’t just with a topic like SEO, however. Imagine searching for “best gardening techniques” or “running shoe reviews.”

Wouldn’t you prefer to read something published in the last year, rather than an article from 2010? Of course you would.

The truth is we’re more likely to click on articles that are published recently, and this means the click-through rate of an article you publish will increase when you update it.

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This is important because, in Google’s algorithm, you’re more likely to rank higher if more people click on your content from the search engine results page.

So updating your content will make it more appealing, and that appeal will tell Google it’s a better resource that should rank higher.

But it isn’t just the date that increases your click-through rate.

You can also write a compelling headline and description that grabs your reader’s attention and pulls them in. This helps you maintain a strong position in Google’s results.

According to Convince and Convert, you can make a click-worthy heading by using a bit of secrecy and making the point clear.

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It’s also important to keep the headline to about eight words or 70 characters, to make sure your visitors can read the whole title in the search results.

Once the reader clicks through to your content, however, you don’t want them to click away immediately. Great search results are based, in part, on how valuable people find your page.

To make this work in your favor, look to grab the attention of your readers by telling a story using descriptions, or help the reader see things from your point of view.

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By updating your content, you’ll draw more people into your words and get higher search engine rankings as a result.

2. Fix grammar and spelling mistakes

Everyone knows the feeling.

We’re reading an old post we wrote months or even years ago, and we notice a cringe-worthy spelling mistake.

Instead of just ignoring it and hoping for the best, spend a bit of time to correct the errors.

Google’s former anti-spam team leader, Matt Cutts, stated that spelling and grammar aren’t one of Google’s 200 ranking factors, but it’s still something to consider.

Poor grammar and spelling negatively impact the user experience, which will play out in your rankings either directly or indirectly.

When Tim Soulo at Ahrefs decided to make minor changes (including mostly spelling and grammar errors) on an old post, he increased traffic to that page by 486%.

big boost

Now, to be fair, he didn’t just edit the spelling and grammar mistakes. He also optimized the post for a more relevant keyword, which I’ll discuss in a minute.

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Then he changed the date to display the recent fresh content, and he pushed it onto the blog’s homepage and promoted it like a new article.

(I’ll also cover these strategies later in this article.)

change date WP

As a result of a change that involved fixing a number of small errors, he was able to drive a massive amount of new traffic to the page.

He also bumped up the search engine placement of the page from #8 to #3.

3 to 8 to 3

If you have small errors, it’s time to make some changes and correct your spelling and grammar.

3. Show Google that your content is fresh

It’s no secret that Google loves fresh content.

Content published recently gets a higher ranking, especially for topics that change frequently.

So if you’re only publishing new content, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity. Your old pieces will die a slow death in the search engine rankings.

Instead, you can revive that content. The truth is, updated content is an easy way to double your traffic.

Create a new publication date or just save an update in WordPress. When Google crawls your site again, you’ll see a boost in your search engine traffic.

When Ahrefs launched evergreen content instead of content that was quickly outdated, they saw a massive spike in views and visits.

Evergreen Content Effectiveness Graph

You can do the same thing with your content. Work hard to make sure it’s fresh, and you’ll get the lion’s share of the Google results your articles deserve.

It’s an easy way to improve your rankings by demonstrating you have fresh content.

4. Improve your content’s accuracy

At the end of the day, every Google update is centered around one thing: improving the user experience.

If your site is designed to make for a great user experience, you’ll succeed with Google’s multiple algorithm changes and constant refining of their ranking factors.

You can make your content more usable and helpful for your visitors by updating it to provide new information or updated content.

In this Gizmodo article on Google abusing its power, the original article was updated to include a statement from Google about the content in the article.

Yes Google Uses Its Power to Quash Ideas It Doesn t Like I Know Because It Happened to Me Updated

This provides additional context for the user, makes the piece more accurate, and improves the worth of the article as a whole.

If you aren’t publishing a news site — or you don’t have an audience large enough to deserve a personal response from Google — you can still implement the same strategies.

To do this, you should look to find new and updated information about the article you’re writing and include it.

Mentioning that you’ve included this new content in an update, as Gizmodo did, is a great way to indicate that you’ve gone through the article to improve the content.

And as you create a more valuable resource, look to see your rankings skyrocket.

5. Improve the freshness of your entire site

It’s a fact: fresh sites rank better.

All things being equal, Google will place a higher priority on sites that update their content frequently.

This is one of the reasons why abandoned sites don’t rank well after a few years, even for articles that would otherwise be very helpful.

If Google recognizes that your site isn’t being updated recently, it will hurt the rankings of all the pages on your site.

To change this, you should skyrocket your traffic by bringing this old content back to life. A few updates on key articles can demonstrate to Google that your entire site is valid.

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This means that every piece on your site will get a ranking boost as Google recognizes that you have fresh content on your site.

Whether correct or not, Google will interpret this as giving all the articles on your site a higher value, and it will improve the rankings for everything you’ve ever published.

6. Show value by removing broken links

One of the most frustrating parts of old content is finding broken links.

Oftentimes, the helpful resources you linked to in the original article aren’t around anymore. Perhaps the website has been shut down, or the URL has changed.

Either way, it hurts your rankings on Google and it pushes you further down the search engine results page.

Thankfully, fixing your broken links isn’t very difficult.

To do this, I recommend two different free tools. The first is the online site Broken Link Checker.

Go there and type in your domain URL. Then click “Find broken links.”

Free Broken Link Checker Online Dead Link Checking Tool

Enter the security code when prompted, and click the “Find broken links now!” button.

Free Broken Link Checker checks your website for bad links dead links online 1

After a few minutes, you’ll get a notification of any links the search found. You should go in and repair these.

Free Broken Link Checker checks your website for bad links dead links online

The second tool I recommend is Broken Link Checker for Google Chrome. It’s a free plugin that lives in your Chrome browser.

To start, you’ll need to download it into Chrome by clicking the “+ Add to Chrome” button on the plugin page.

Broken Link Checker Chrome Web Store 1

When prompted by Chrome, choose “Add extension.”

Broken Link Checker Chrome Web Store

It will create a small icon featured in your browser’s header bar.

Neil Patel The Top X Reasons That Updating Old Content Can Help With Your Rankings NeilPatel com Google Docs

To use the tool, just navigate to the post you’d like to check and click on the icon. It will display a small box on top of the page.

This will browse all the links on the page and find any that are broken. It will give you a total number of links, both functioning and broken.

26 Content Marketing Changes You Need to Make Immediately

All the links that work properly will be highlighted in green. Any that are missing or lead to 404 pages will show up as pink, along with the problem in finding the link.

26 Content Marketing Changes You Need to Make Immediately 1

To repair a broken link, you’ll need to find the original page you linked to and look for what other ways it might be published. This is the easiest way to improve things.

If the article is truly off the web, you’ll need to take more drastic measures. Look to find another resource that matches the other in quality, and link to that instead.

If you can’t find it at all, and there’s nothing similar, you can just delete the link altogether. It’s better to have no link than a dead one.

Either way, fixing or removing your broken links makes the page more valuable in Google’s eyes and helps to increase your rankings.

7. Link to newer, better resources

If you’re improving your old content, you can also add new links to better resources.

According to Crazy Egg, research for your content includes using experts, statistics, infographics, events, and breaking news.

Secrets of a Killer Blog Post Infographic

As you go back over old content, you can easily add links to this new content. Since these resources weren’t available when you first wrote the piece, it adds a lot of new value.

It also makes your content look much more valuable to Google. Since outbound links are an important ranking factor, you can create a more valuable resource this way.

Link to the best content on the web and Google will take notice. Instead of only linking to those resources, your page will become the go-to hub of information for others.

There’s one last thing you should do with your content: link to your own resources.

If you’ve published a recent article on a related topic, you should link to this.

It’s also a good idea to update the call to action that you currently use and make sure it’s relevant to the new content you’ve updated.

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By including up-to-date resources and more in-depth content, you can bring blog posts back to life and drive massive rankings in Google.

It’s the perfect way to increase your search engine traffic without spending hours creating new content or writing lengthy updates to your old posts.

8. Include multimedia for better rankings

One of the best ways to improve your search engine rankings is by adding different types of media.

As the content online becomes more diverse, there is special privilege placed on new content that includes different types of images, plus audio and video.

The exact types you want to use depends on your preference. This illustration from Salesforce gives details on how to add media to your post.

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It’s a good idea to include an image for every 350 words or so.

(I actually try to include an image for every 100 words, as it makes the content easier to read and skim.)

No matter what images you want to use, you need to include a link back to the original content. This makes it easier for others to know where the image came from.

It also lets you review the images and easily find updated pieces if you need to later.

If you struggle to create interesting images yourself, you can easily find them online by searching sites like StumbleUpon for graphics that are proven to grab attention.

Secrets of a Killer Blog Post Infographic

This is a simple way to make your content more appealing without lots of extra work.

This focus on new types of media will make your content more engaging and give you improvements on Google’s search engine results pages.

9. Improve how often Google indexes your site

As you work to improve the old content you’ve published on your website, you’ll actually start to see benefits across the entire set of content, not just on the articles you’ve updated.

The reason for this is because Google looks at your entire site to see your most recent updates.

This is then used as a measure of how often Google will set aside time to crawl your site.

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A simple example is the frequency with which Google crawls a news site like the Huffington Post versus a static site, like a simple three-page “about us” website for a local law firm.

With HuffPo publishing articles every hour, Google will learn this frequency and update more often.

Meanwhile, the law firm will get updated every few weeks (or less), since Google recognizes there isn’t new content each time it crawls the site.

By updating old content, you can get Google to crawl your site more frequently without needing to publish more often.

The more Google crawls your site, the more likely your most recent information will show up in search results after publishing, which gives you an advantage in your search engine results rankings.

10. Optimize for the right keywords

There’s a chance you didn’t do enough keyword research when you published your original post, or perhaps you didn’t do it the correct way.

Either way, you may find that the old content you published is actually running better in keywords you didn’t expect.

Instead of just leaving the keyword focus the same and hoping for the best, you can take proactive steps to improve the keyword focus of the pieces you’ve created.

Here’s how to do that.

First, you’ll want to go into Google Keyword Planner. Type in the URL of the old article you’d like to update where it says “Your landing page.”

Keyword Planner Google AdWords

Click “Get ideas” to go to the next page and see what Google recommends as a suggested keyword.

Keyword Planner Google AdWords 3

Once you have the results on the next page, click “Avg. monthly searches.” This will sort them by volume so you can see the most popular keywords you should rank for.

Keyword Planner Google AdWords 1

In the column to the left, you’ll see other keywords that you may want to target with the old piece of content you’re planning to update.

Keyword Planner Google AdWords 2

As you can see, my guide on SEO is ranking well for other terms unrelated to SEO, including AdWords, Facebook Ads, and digital marketing.

When updating this post, I may want to focus on these terms a bit more to improve my rankings for these other valuable keywords.

This boosts my ranking for keywords I wasn’t even planning for when I first wrote the original post.

11. Share your content and promote it again

Now that you’ve updated your old post, it’s time to promote it like it’s brand new.

To begin, make sure you have plenty of share buttons on the page. This ensures that if the article is popular with your audience, you’ll be able to expand its reach.

Without sharing buttons, you can kill all the potential your post has for going viral. Don’t allow that to happen.

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Once you’ve fixed this, distribute your content through the normal ways you’d promote a new piece of content.

This might be through sharing it with your email list and posting it on social media. I also recommend contacting influencers about the post you’ve written.

This is a great way to get backlinks from new posts that have just been recently published.

These recent linking pages show Google that the page itself is also fresh since fresh links indicate fresh content.

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An easy way to guarantee more backlinks is by using ego-bait.

This is a strategy where you reference someone else who looms large in your industry and let them know you quoted them.

Since they’re proud to be featured (hence the term “ego-bait”), they’re more likely to share.

Secrets of a Killer Blog Post Infographic 1

Because this is a strategy you can easily implement with old articles, simply by referencing and linking to new influencers, you can build up a solid backlink profile.

Share your content again, and watch your rankings skyrocket.

12. Fix any issues with recent Google updates

There are as many as 600 Google updates each year, with each one focusing on improving the algorithm and changing the ranking factors for a number of different sites.

The most recent update, an unconfirmed one nicknamed “Fred,” caused widespread damage to sites with short articles and keyword-stuffed content.

According to this data from MarketingProfs, the Fred update has hurt many sites with low-value content, driving traffic downward.

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Of course, Fred might not have impacted you. But with each new algorithm update, there is a change in how different factors play out for the success in your Google rankings.

To improve your content’s guaranteed success in the Google results, you should work to ensure that all your old content follows the best practices for Google’s latest changes.

Look to see what those changes have been, and add features that give your content the best chance for success.

This will give you the best shot for maintaining content and staying up to date through the variety of changes Google makes to its algorithm each day.

13. Repurpose your content for more backlinks

To get the most impact from the old article you update, you should create different content types from the original work you did.

Instead of going back and finding new information, just repurpose the research you’ve already done.

There are myriad ways to repurpose your old content, and I recommend doing whatever you feel most comfortable with.

The easiest way to repurpose your old content, however, is in the methods recommended by Smart Passive Income.

By simply reading your old content out loud and recording it, you can create a podcast episode, SoundCloud content, bonus audio for subscribers, or even a content upgrade.

How to Repurpose Your Blog Content Infographic The Smart Passive Income Blog

Best of all, this doesn’t require any fancy or expensive equipment. Just record using the built-in microphone on your computer.

Another easy way to create new content from an old post is to craft a Slideshare presentation. Just divide up the post into a few different pieces of information.

The easiest way to do this is to create a separate slide from each piece of content in your article, like breaking the article into subpoints.

Publish your slideshow on Slideshare and promote it again.

How to Repurpose Your Blog Content Infographic The Smart Passive Income Blog 1

These are easy ways to increase the visibility of your post. And when others link to your other content, you can gain new backlinks to what you’re publishing.

As one of the biggest ranking factors for Google and other search engines, backlinks are guaranteed to improve your rankings.

14. Leverage the value of your old content

Think for a minute about how much of your content is old versus how much is new.

Chances are, 90% or more of your total content is more than a few months old. And every minute, it’s losing value as it becomes less fresh.

The solution is to inject new value into your old content. Those old posts already have value as solid resources. You’ve done the research and created something that’s worthwhile.

Chances are, you’ve even started to develop a lot of backlinks to the content.

So why let it go to waste?

Instead, you should look to update the content.

Google looks for quality content, so even if your site is recently updated, Google will still prefer the high-quality content that was published years ago.

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By updating your old content, you can give it a second life and transform it into content that will continue to drive massive search engine traffic.

Don’t let your old work go to waste. With a little freshening up, you can boost your search engine rankings with old content that’s been given a new look and updated relevance.

Conclusion

If you want to boost your SEO, look no further than updating your old content.

This is the perfect way to increase the traffic your website gets from search engines, and it’s guaranteed to make a huge improvement in how well your content ranks.

To start, create compelling new content to add on top of your old articles. Include new resources, clean up any broken links on your site, and include multimedia.

You should also work to improve the accuracy of your content and make sure it’s up to date with the most recent and critical information.

Once you’ve freshened up the content, look to make sure it meets all the newest requirements of Google’s algorithm updates.

Expand the reach of your article by repurposing it to different types of media, and even consider changing the keywords for which it’s optimized.

After you’ve updated the content, it’s time to share it again. Look to promote it in the same way you did earlier, showing the new value to readers and fans alike.

With this complete set of updates for your old content, you’re set to create a powerhouse of search engine improvement for all the older pieces you had forgotten about.

How will you update your old content to help with your rankings?

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