How to Update and Refresh Content and Increase Your Traffic SEO

    January 20 2021

    Content Refresh: Why It’s Important

    First things first, what does refreshing your content entail and why should you care? Well, the answer is simple: for content to continue ranking #1 or high on a user’s organic search, you need to make sure your blog post or piece of existing content is the most relevant. 

    After some time, your content will hit a plateau in website traffic. So if it goes without an update, it will start to decay. But before we get into decay, let’s discuss the goal, problem, and solution for refreshing your existing content. 

    Goal: The goal of any content or blog post is impact and to receive as many views and website traffic as possible. Ranking #1 in organic search means your content was most relevant to a user’s search and was optimized using the right keywords and titles. However, naturally, your content’s growth will start to level out and reach a plateau due to maxing out keywords and rankings. Leveling out isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but if you don’t do anything about it once it happens, you’ll start to see a drop in page views which you absolutely don’t want. 

    Problem: Instead of refreshing your content, you might think creating all-new content is better, but we promise that’s not the case. Not only are you spending less time updating existing content, but you’re spending less money too! Besides, new content isn’t guaranteed to rank well in organic search because of the limited number of keywords to help optimize your content. It’s better to update the content that once ranked well than to start over. 

    Solution: After going through our goal and problem, our answer is a no brainer. Refresh the existing content that was once a hit and keep it at a steady plateau, so it keeps ranking higher against other businesses’ new content.

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    What is Content Decay and How Does it Affect Your SEO Traffic

    Like we mentioned earlier, there’s this thing called content decay. It’s a really ugly word in the realm of content creation.

    Content Decay 

    So what is content decay? It’s defined as any content or blog posts that are declining in web and search traffic over the past twelve months.  Content decay is how you can determine which existing content of yours is worth refreshing and updating. Here are the five phases to take note of when choosing which content needs refreshing. 

    • Spike Phase - when your content is initially published 
    • Trough Phase - your content’s growth starts to look stagnant 
    • Growth Phase - pageviews start to increase 
    • Plateau Phase - growth starts to level out 
    • Decay Phase - traffic to post drop off 

    PLANOLY Pro-Tip: Catch up on content decay and other social media terms in our comprehensive social media marketing terms glossary. 

    Factors Leading to Content Decay 

    There are several causes of content decay so it’s important to pay attention to them as you start your journey of breathing new life into previous content. Let’s go over them below:

    More Competition - competition continues to grow in the content marketing space, which means the competition for keyword ranking has increased. Because content marketing is no longer a new market, more prominent companies are starting to dedicate entire teams and resources to ensuring their content outranks everyone else. When you start to notice a slow decline, start tracking your target keywords in tools like Ahrefs or Moz. This will help you spot changes in search engine results. Note: Going from #1 to #2 in search results represents almost a 50% loss in traffic. 

    Fresh Content - Google factors content freshness into its rankings by favoring individual pages that are updated regularly. Content freshness includes sitewide checks to ensure a website publishes new content regularly, or if titles are outdated along with outdated backlinks can all affect Google’s idea of freshness. 

    Content Quality - a competitor creates better content compared to your content.

    Technical Issues - site speed along with other technical issues can lead to content decay. 

    Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) Changes - Google sometimes keeps the traffic to themselves

    How it Affects Your SEO Traffic

    When your content starts to decay, it will negatively affect your SEO efforts, which results in less website traffic. And suppose you don’t address it quickly. In that case, it will create a domino effect of fewer people clicking on your article because of decreased visibility. When that happens, your content ranking will continue to fall until it becomes so buried that it will ultimately become harder to rank. Keep in mind Google prioritizes fresher content. So it’s in your best interest to update your content.

    Finding the Content Decay

    In order to refresh content, you need to first find the content of yours that’s worth refreshing. Start by looking for any content that fits the three descriptions below:  

    • Content that has or generates returning organic traffic.  
    • Content with a steady decline over three consecutive months.  
    • Content that measures at least 1% of total traffic. 

    This may seem overwhelming at first, but by carving out time each month to comb through your Google Analytics for traffic graphs, you will be in a much better position. 

    Aside from blog content, PLANOLY’s analyze feature on our web dashboard is a great tool for finding your previously high-performing Instagram content and coming up with some creative ways you and your social team can rework the copy to reshare on your channels. Resharing previous content can help increase engagement and in turn, lead them back to your website if the Grid post accompanies a blog post. Note: It’s important to consider a 360 approach to refreshing content on all your channels and not just your website. 

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    How to Update Existing Content

    Now that you know how imperative it is for you to update your content to avoid further content decay, let’s discuss how you can refresh your content the most effectively. 

    Expand Your Content - Expanding your content by making it more comprehensive is a common way to refresh content. However, use a critical eye to ensure you’re not making your content too long. Even though there’s evidence supporting longer content, more words don’t necessarily mean updating every section in your blog post is necessary. For example, if a section doesn’t provide enough context, it might be best to leave it out. Or, if it isn’t new information compared to the many other blog posts on the same topic, Google might consider it copycat content. 

    Update Your Publish Date, Copy & Images - Updating your content is the theme of this post. However, updating a blog post can mean updating any content specific to a previous year to the current year and current software update. For example, if a blog post has an outdated date in the title, change it to represent the present better. And if the images in the blog posts include screenshots from an old iOS or Android software, remove them, so they represent what the software currently looks like. Keep a list of blog posts using specific dates, screenshots, and ever-changing topics this will make them easier to track. 

    Optimize Titles, Keywords, & Meta Descriptions - Even if your content is of better quality than a competitors’ content, it still won’t outrank a better-optimized post. To avoid getting overshadowed due to bad SEO, start by checking your post’s SEO with tools like Clearscope that assesses your page’s target keywords, meta description, etc., to ensure your content is optimized competitively. 

    Retarget Your Audience - Sometimes, the original set of target keywords picked for optimization are not always what the article ranks for. Having to change keywords happens often and requires a quick adjustment. Update the title tags, header, meta descriptions, etc., to include the keyword the article is actually best-ranking for. This will boost your content performance and the best part is that Google provides you with this information. 

    Repromote Your Content - If the content you're refreshing is a few years old, there’s a good chance you’ve written or shared lots of new content since then. This is your opportunity to link out to the blog you’ve refreshed. Start by reading through your more recent content to find space and opportunity to redirect readers to the old blog post – but only repromote if it’s relevant. 

    The Benefits of a Content Refresh

    Now that we’ve taken you through the why and how to refresh your existing content in order to increase your website traffic, let’s go through all the reasons why you should add content refreshing to your content strategy. 

    • Updating and refreshing your content gives Google a reason to favor your content because it sees it as new.  
    • Increased website traffic boosts audience engagement because when your audience finds a blog post, they like they will share it on their social media channels for more people to find and read your content.
    • Updating your existing content uses fewer resources and takes less time to do. 
    • A content refresh allows for improved SEO because you can retarget keywords to fit the keyword search better.
    • This is a great opportunity to look through the content you forgot existed and use it in the future for linking opportunities or content reshares on your website and social channels. 

    Refreshing content can’t be a one-time thing. To avoid content decay and the lack of web traffic, you need to start building content refreshing into your workflow. This assures that you’re keeping your content fresh and when your content is fresh, Google will favor it. 

    Started scheduling your refreshed content on PLANOLY to bring your content back to life! 


    Learn more about Carrie Boswell, on PLANOLY

    Carrie Boswell

    Carrie Boswell is the Digital Marketing Content Specialist at PLANOLY. She is always finding ways to include pop culture and the Gen Z perspective into the content we create for marketers and small business owners.

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