How Updating Old Content Can Improve Your Rankings

The fight for Google rankings has become something of a battle royale in the past few years. Digital marketing drives a lot of different industries, and securing that prized first page position can feel like just as big of a victory as winning the Super Bowl or receiving an Academy Award.

Okay, maybe not quite that big. But for some businesses, a first page ranking could be the difference between “best acquisition year ever” and “failed to meet sales goals.” So as Google’s algorithms continue to change and evolve, companies around the world are scrambling to find any advantage they can.

But Google has valued “freshness” for almost 20 years. It might not be the guiding star of the ranking algorithm, but it’s also not going to go away anytime soon.

In order to keep your website as fresh as possible, you’ll want to revisit old posts and pages. Give them a little TLC and then you can republish that content, which will show Google that they are posts that you care about (and that the content on them is still relevant).

Updating old content can improve your rankings, and here are four easy wins that make it worthwhile.

1. Match Modern SEO Standards

Even small or startup businesses invest tens of thousands of dollars into researching keywords, studying trends, and producing content that ranks right away. It’s an invaluable way of gaining traction — and attention — as quickly as possible.

But SEO standards are constantly changing, and most companies don’t have the resources to split time between producing new content and maintaining old content.

Think of a blog post you wrote in 2018. At the time, that particular piece of content might have been SEO-perfect, following every rule and meeting every standard. It may have landed on the first page of search results, or even climbed its way up to the coveted #1 ranking.

Well, in 2020, that post is already showing its age in comparison to the pages you’ve recently worked on. That’s part of why updating old content is able to help you hold onto (and even improve) your rankings.

Looking back at old posts is an obvious excuse to go back and optimize all of your best, most successful content to match the current SEO standards. And that is the most likely thing to create a dramatic effect on your page ranking.

2. Make The Content Valuable (Again)

Right off the bat, every piece of updated content looks like a piece of new content to Google. Search engines check the date that a post was updated rather than the date it was originally published, and that means the more time you put into refreshing posts, the more likely your content is to climb the Google rankings.

You’ll also be able to update or replace links on these pages. This is a worthwhile excuse to update content on its own. Whether you want to find a different resource to link to or a recent statistic to include, a content refresh gives you the opportunity to put the newest, most relevant information in front of your customers.

This can be doubly useful if your content strategy or business direction has changed since the page first went live. Updating posts gives you a chance to make any adjustments you need to, such as focusing on a specific topic that your company has prioritized right now.

3. Reshare On Social Media

When it comes to easy wins, having good content to share on social media has to rank at the top of that list. A huge benefit from refreshing your old content is that — for all intents and purposes — it looks new when you update it. And that gives it a second chance at life.

In addition, any newer customers and followers will have no idea that it’s updated content. All of the things you repost will seem new to them, and that will only add more value to your platform.

There are tons of ways to optimize content for SEO, and including the current year in a headline tends to receive better clickthrough because people can see the content is new. A recent publishing date helps, but giving customers a clear indication of freshness (like “Best Email Marketing Tips for 2020”) makes them more likely to explore your content.

4. Do Some Spring Cleaning

Think of this as an added bonus: Going back and updating old content gives you an opportunity to tidy things up. No copywriter or copy editor is perfect, and there’s a good chance you’ll find some mistakes in your old posts.

You’ll find typos, or misinformation, or even just outdated style guide rules. And going back to freshen up this content also gives you an excuse to double-check your statistics or infographics and update them as necessary.

Making sure your content is fresh will satisfy Google, but it can also bring a new benefit to your customers as well. And that can be an even bigger victory than a top-five position.

How Updating Old Content Can Improve Your Rankings

Remember, these four benefits are only the starting point. 

  1. You can add media to your site, like downloadable resources or updated infographics. You can explore additional platforms to support the stuff you’re refreshing, like creating a YouTube channel or podcast. You could even create explainer videos to add more value to that content. 
  2. The possibilities are endless, and basically anything you decide to do will have an effect on your content’s Google search ranking.
  3. But getting a better page ranking is only half the battle — you still need to earn readers’ trust by providing value that helps them solve whatever question or problem brought them to your page in the first place.
  4. The better your pages rank, the more people will find it when they’re searching for the keywords you care about. And the four benefits in the post are just a sample of all the ways that refreshing content can make all the difference in your marketing strategy.

Drew Gula is the copywriter at Soundstripe, a company that creates cinematic music and sound effects that help people produce better video content.

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