If you’ve been running a blog for over a few months, you’ve got a pile of old articles lying around going to waste. Most likely, you’ve started to see their ranks dip on the SERP, and you’re losing traffic from those articles.
We’ve all been there.
But there’s good news: You can breathe new life into those old articles and return them to their former glory. It just takes a refresh.
A refresh is when you update, edit, and improve your older content to help it back up the SERP.
In this article, we’ll give you a step-by-step plan to execute a valuable content refresh and help you get your articles back on the map.
- Why Content Refreshes Are a Good Idea
- How to Track Content Needing a Refresh
- How to Effectively Revamp Your Old Blog Posts
- Blog Revamp SEO Checklist
Why Content Refreshes Are a Good Idea
You already know how important SEO is. You also know how important it is to write excellent blog articles to keep your website relevant.
While creating new content is vital to your website’s success, refreshing old articles can also provide significant benefits you CAN’T get by simply writing new content.
Updating outdated blogs (also known as content refreshes or revamps) is a great way to improve the performance of older articles, update old information, and give your content that little boost it needs to generate more customers.
Let’s briefly look at why refreshing your old website content is an excellent idea.
Get SEO Results Fast
One of the most significant benefits of updating old content is that it can help improve your SEO rankings quickly.
How does it work?
Google (as well as other search engines like Bing and Yahoo!) loves fresh content, and regularly updating older articles signals to search engines that your website continuously provides new and relevant information. An article that has gone unchanged for 2 years looks old to Google (because it is), so it’s less likely to get sent to the top of the SERP.
By following the revamp protocol we’ll share below, you have the potential to boost your SEO efforts and drive more traffic to your website in a short amount of time. As soon as Google reindexes your page, you should see an immediate boost in ranks.
Maximize the Value of Older Content
Website owners spend countless hours creating quality content, but as time goes by, older articles that once ranked high in search engines may lose their value.
Think of it this way: Would you rather read a 1-year-old article or an article written yesterday? Most people want the most up-to-date information, so they’ll choose the freshest article.
Refreshing old content can breathe new life into an older article and maximize its potential. You can quickly take the following steps to instantly improve the value of old content:
- Add new photos, videos, or other visual content
- Add new links to new resources or blogs related to the topic
- Update statistics and relevant information, making it relevant and valuable to your audience
Boost Ranks on Your Best Articles
If you knew you could instantly get an article on the first page of Google, wouldn’t you do it?
That’s what refreshing old content offers you.
For example, let’s say you have a piece of content that’s a year old and ranking at the top of the second page. With a quick refresh, you can take that content and boost it to the first page just by updating it.
Think of it this way: Improving old content takes the guesswork out of ranking. You know you can boost your content’s ranking, so you automatically know your efforts will be rewarded with more traffic.
How to Track Content Needing a Refresh
The chances are good that you have a lot of content on your page.
How do you decide which content should be refreshed now and which can wait until later?
You might be tempted to pin all your URLs to a dartboard and see which one you hit, but there’s a much easier (and more effective) way to decide which content should get refreshed.
This method will help you decide which posts to refresh, and it’ll also help you choose the content that will benefit MOST from getting refreshed. In other words, it’ll help you pick the posts that have the most potential to gain ranks from getting revamped.
Let’s take a look!
Step 1: Create a Spreadsheet With All Post URLs
Efficiently manage your blog post URLs by creating a spreadsheet. Include the following columns:
- Added to Rank Tracker
This should become a standard operating procedure for your SEO operations.
In the end, it should look something like this:
Adding these columns will help you keep everything nice and tidy and give you a bird’s eye view of your entire content strategy – as well as which content most needs refreshing.
Save yourself some time by making a copy of my template here.
Step 2: Rate Every Blog Post
Now that you’ve got all your URLs listed on your spreadsheet above, rate each blog post on a scale of 1-4 to assess its SEO value and relevance to your target audience.
Here’s what each level means:
- Little SEO value and low relevance to your intended customer
- Some SEO value but low relevance
- Relevant to your topic and your intended customer
- Customers search for this topic when they’re ready to make a purchase
Populate the “Priority” column in your spreadsheet with these ratings.
Step 3: Add URLs and Keywords to a Rank Tracker
To monitor the success of your blog posts, add their URLs and target keywords to a rank tracker.
Our recommendation is ProRankTracker. It’s got the most accurate ranking data, daily ranking updates, and 20+ reports and notifications. Plus, out of the many other rank trackers, ProRankTracker is the highest value for the money.
Keep your spreadsheet current by marking the posts added to the rank tracker in the “Added to Rank Tracker” column.
Step 4: Tag URLs With Your Rating From Step 2
Tagging your URLs with their respective ratings in your rank tracker will help you stay organized and identify your most important posts without jumping back and forth between your spreadsheet and your rank tracker.
In ProRankTracker, you can easily add a tag in the Tags column on the left-hand toolbar. Notice in the photo below that we’ve got tags for priority levels 1-4, and each tag is also assigned a color for easy recognition.
As you add tags to your URLs in ProRankTracker, update the “Added to Rank Tracker?” column in your spreadsheet to “Tagged” for those posts that have been appropriately labeled.
Step 5: Filter Through Your Posts to Find Revamp Opportunities
Filter through your posts to identify those that could benefit from a revamp.
Here’s what I recommend looking for when deciding what needs a revamp:
- Look for posts assigned a high-priority rating.
- Posts should be older than 6 months old before you consider doing a revamp.
- Start with posts ranking 5-10.
- Move on to posts ranking 10+.
If you choose to refresh a post ranking higher than 5th, your changes should be minimal – just enough to refresh the information and focus it on your target audience.
Step 6: Add URLs to Your Revamp List
Finally, create a list of blog posts that require a refresh, prioritizing those with higher ratings.
Start with the posts rated as a 4, then work your way down the list to the 3s, 2s, and 1s. This ensures that your efforts are focused on the most impactful content first.
Now that you’ve got a complete list of articles that are ready for a revamp, it’s time to update them! The following section will show you how to do just that.
How to Effectively Revamp Your Old Blog Posts
Should your revamp be a full rework of the entire article? Should you just update keywords? Or should you just slap some new graphics on it and call it a day?
These are essential questions about revamps. Fortunately, there’s a tried-and-true process you can go through to ensure you get a quality refresh every single time.
In this section, we’ll give you 4 steps to determine exactly what needs to be refreshed in an old blog post. Then, before we conclude this article, we’ll give you a revamp checklist to help you refresh your old content like a pro.
Step 1: Determine Your Target Keywords
Before you can effectively refresh a blog post, you need to know the main keyword for that post.
Knowing the main keyword will help you optimize the post for search intent and track its rankings.
What if you don’t know the main keyword? No worries, here’s how you can find it:
- Check the page’s queries in Google Search Console.
- If there’s insufficient data, use a keyword research tool like Ahrefs to identify keywords with high volume and relevance to the page topic.
In Google Search Console, set your date range to 12 months to get as much data as possible, then filter results by greatest to least traffic. Collect your primary keywords from this list.
Then, search for those keywords in an incognito browser to see where your post ranks for each keyword. Or, if you want to check your rankings in bulk, you can use ProRankTracker.
When you have your keywords, go through your article with a fine-tooth comb and ensure that it’s targeting those keywords (or variations of them) to help it place higher on the SERP.
Step 2: Evaluate the SERP
Now that you know the keywords for your post, it’s time to look at the highest-ranking post for those keywords. Your goal is to figure out what searchers are looking for and how you can make your content better than the competition.
To begin, let’s search for our main keywords using incognito mode in our web browsers.
While conducting this search, evaluate the top 10 results and address the following questions:
- How do your competitors approach the topic (what’s their angle)?
- What subtopics do they cover?
- What resources do they provide?
- What data do they include?
- What visuals do they use?
- What other differences do you notice between their content and yours?
Taking a close look at what is ranking highly shows you what searchers are looking for. This will give you a good idea about what your article should cover and how it can provide the most value to your target audience.
Once you know what your competitors are offering, it’s time to review your article and take everything up to a notch. Add more value than your competitors in every way.
If your article is more valuable than theirs, Google will reward you with a higher rank on the SERP.
Step 3: Determine Search Intent
In this step, you’re trying to answer one question: What are searchers hoping to find when searching for your target keywords?
Are they looking for a listicle? A product? Maybe they’re looking for industry-leading data on a question they have.
The question itself doesn’t matter. What matters is that you KNOW the question so you can ensure that your article ANSWERS the question.
To determine search intent, just look at the titles of the top 10 (non-sponsored) posts for your search term. That lets you know what people are clicking on, which tells you what they’re looking for when they search for your keywords.
For example, you can see from this Google query that most people who search,
“Best CRM for small business” are looking for a list of tools to try out.
Step 4: Optimize SEO
Now it’s time for the main event.
The last step in refreshing an old article is making sure that it will perform on the SERPs. You do that by optimizing every aspect of the article for search engines.
Our last section will give you a detailed look at how to revamp an article’s SEO to land a higher rank on the SERP.
Blog Revamp SEO Checklist
If you plan to revamp your blog, use this SEO checklist to ensure your site is search engine-friendly.
Match Search Intent
The first step to optimizing your website for SEO during a revamp is ensuring the content matches the search intent.
You need to create authentic, quality content relevant to your readers. Specifically, you want to answer the question they all have in their minds when searching for your target keywords.
The phrase “If you build it, they will come” doesn’t apply here. But a similar phrase does: “If you build what they want, they will come.”
Build the article your searchers want, and you’ll fly up the SERP.
Improve User Experience
Google prioritizes sites with an excellent user experience because people want to spend time on those pages.
Your web page should have the following UX components:
- Easy to navigate
- Mobile-friendly design
- Skimmable content
- Fast loading speeds
- Graphics and images to support written content
Improving your website’s user experience can help to reduce bounce rates and keep visitors on-site longer.
Your H1 (the title) is the first thing your readers see when they scroll the SERP. It’s the first (and often, the only) chance to convince them to click on your article.
Ensure that your headline is convincing and informative to attract attention. In addition, it should include the main keyword for the post and let your readers know how the article will answer their central question.
For example, let’s say you found out that your readers are looking for tips on improving their social media marketing skills. Your headline shouldn’t be, “How to improve your social media marketing skills.” That’s boring and lame, and not as many people will click on it.
Instead, it should be something like “17 social media marketing tips to grow your audience fast.”
Keep your H1 under 59 characters, or it will get cut off by Google.
Optimize Meta Description
If your readers like your H1, they’ll take a second to read your meta description
The meta description should be engaging and concise to help users decide if they want to read what you’re offering.
Like with your H1, your meta description should include your keywords and tell the readers exactly how your article will answer their burning questions.
Your meta description should be under 160 characters to avoid getting cut off by Google.
Internal links are essential for highlighting related and critical content within your website.
In other words, they strategically push readers of one article to other articles on your site designed to get them to your sales funnel.
There are 2 things you need to do with your internal links in this step:
- Ensure the blog post has at least 5 links to high-value content on your site. The goal is to push them to pages designed to convert them.
- Ensure that OTHER blog posts on your site link to the post you’re refreshing.
With the internal AND external links that are ALREADY on the page, click through each one to ensure that it points to a live page. Dead links on your page just look bad, and they can also indirectly harm your rank by affecting your bounce rate.
The links on your post shouldn’t all point to your website. There should be some links in each article that point to other authoritative sources in your industry.
Generally, 1 authoritative external link per article should be considered an absolute minimum. The link should also adhere to the following best practices:
- Comes from an industry leader
- Gives some authoritative data (like a study, statistics, or something else relevant to your post)
Again, check all the old external links to ensure none are dead or point to outdated information.
Image Alt Text
Google determines what your images depict by using the alt text. Alt text also helps readers with visual impairment or other disabilities better interact with your content.
The alt text should contain a description of the image and the primary keywords to enhance visibility in Google search results.
As a general rule, your content should be about as long as (or a little longer than) the top-ranking articles for your keywords.
If your article is significantly shorter than your competitors’, add more valuable sections (not fluff) to increase the word count.
If your article is significantly longer (more than 1000 words), comb through your article, looking for fluff to ensure that every word contributes value to your readers.
In general, just ensure your article provides the absolute maximum value. If it has fluff, take it out. If it’s short on info, beef it up.
Grammar, Spelling, and Plagiarism
When online searchers encounter an article with many grammar and spelling mistakes, they leave. It destroys the article’s credibility and authority.
One missed comma won’t kill you, but mixing up they’re, their, and there for the entire article absolutely will.
Grammarly Premium is a great option to check for grammar mistakes, spelling errors, and plagiarism. It’s easy to copy and paste your article into their tool to check for and fix mistakes quickly. It also has plugins for Google Docs and Microsoft Word.
Is Your Content Better Than the Competition?
Revamping your content boils down to this simple question: Is your content better than the competition?
If it’s not, FIX IT!
Revisit the questions you asked about competitors when you were evaluating the SERP. If they’re offering something that your article doesn’t offer, consider adding it.
However, when you add it, make sure your version is better, more authoritative, and more accurate.
Search engines reward content that appears new and relevant with higher rankings.
That’s why it’s essential to make sure that you update the information in your old posts and offer current and accurate information. That includes:
- Statistics or other data
- Industry trends
- Best practices/tips
Imagine clicking on an article about social media marketing and finding out it has tips for MySpace or Google+. That’s not a good look. Avoid that for your articles by making sure everything is up to date.
Make Your Content Unique
Content with unique insights usually stands out to Google, which means it gets ranked higher on the SERP. You spent a lot of time earlier researching your competitors.
Now, take that info and use it to write a fresh take, a different angle, or some other unique content about the same keywords.
Be careful here, though – don’t sacrifice quality for the sake of uniqueness. Make sure your content is still well-researched and authoritative. Consider using the following methods to help your content stand out:
- More visual components (graphics, screenshots, etc.)
- Give more actionable advice
- Include more up-to-date tips and advice
- Deliver more subject matter expertise
Add Subject Matter Expertise
Readers don’t want to hear about the speculations of someone who knows nothing about the article’s subject.
Back your blog with subject matter expertise and add specialized knowledge to the content. If you or someone else in your company is an expert in that area, you can use that.
If not, try the following sources of subject matter expertise:
- Influencers (making sure to give them credit when you borrow their stuff)
- Customer reviews (49% of consumers trust reviews as much as a personal recommendation from a friend)
- Insights from pain points expressed in your competitor reviews and how your product fixes them
- Customer conversations you’ve had
- User-generated content
- Expert opinions (with credit)
Most Google searches have a “People also ask” section. It’s a Google feature that lets your article get even more visibility if you can land there.
Add some of those questions to a FAQ section at the end of your article. This will increase your chances of landing in the “People also ask” feature. Note that it’s best to have the FAQ schema markup on your page to be eligible for that Google feature.
Just ensure that you provide valuable (but very brief) answers to these questions to increase the chances that someone will click through to your article from Google.
Add Your Product Where Relevant
The end goal of your article is to get people to use your product or service.
But how will they know what you offer if you don’t include it in the article?
Make sure that you mention your product a few times throughout your post, but follow these basic guidelines as you do so:
- Mentioning your product where it’s irrelevant does more harm than good
- Add screenshots wherever possible to showcase your product
- Update any old information about your product
- Push people to high-value pages on your website (free trial, demo, landing pages, etc.)
- Don’t be pushy. Nobody wants to read an article that reads more like sales copy.
Revamping your article allows you to take full advantage of the preexisting content on your website by pushing it higher up the SERP.
If you keep in mind the SEO essentials outlined above, you’ll strengthen your site and set your blog up for success.
Remember: The key to success on the SERP revolves around VALUE. If you provide more value than your competitors while answering the primary search intent for your main keywords, you’ll see drastic improvements in your ranks.