Best practices for updating content

Updating old content can be time consuming, especially if your website has been around for a while. It is best to plan to work on this project continuously rather than all at once.

Before you start, there are a few general best practices to follow:

Perform a content check

Realistically, you don't have enough time to pay close attention to each article that needs to be updated. To get the most out of your time, it's important to determine which content is most likely to have the greatest impact. This is where a content check comes into play.

A content audit is used to check all content on your website and to evaluate its performance. In this case, the goal is to identify older articles that have lost significant traffic since they were first published. This allows you to narrow down exactly which items should be updated. Content that was once successful will spring back much more often. Other key factors to consider are relevance and keywords. Select content written for high volume, evergreen keywords. For example, an article on social media video marketing is a better candidate for an update than an article on the now defunct Vine platform.

Create a checklist that you want to follow

No two content is the same and some need more work than others. By now, you're probably wondering exactly what changes are needed to bring about a significant improvement in content performance. Research shows that changes to the main text of the article are more important to search engines.

Make a checklist for each item you update to keep your work organized and consistent. Here are some changes you should add to your checklist:

  • Check the reader intent of the keyword you're targeting. Does the message of the article directly match what readers are looking for when they search for that term?
  • Evaluate the catchiness of the headline compared to the competing articles. How can you improve your headline to make it stand out?
  • Update graphics and other visuals that no longer meet your brand design guidelines.
  • Search all internal and external links to ensure that the content you link to is updated and correct. If there are broken links, fix them.
  • Identify ways to update on-page SEO elements such as the meta description and image alt text.
  • Check for grammatical errors and writing style. When it comes to writing, there is no right or wrong, but you should aim to have a consistent brand voice for all of your pieces.

Some changes are quick fixes, while others can take several hours if a complete rewrite of the article is considered necessary. If you think the piece is in good condition, republish it and update the post date. This is done differently depending on the web content management system used. Therefore, ask your special software provider how to do this.

Promote updated articles on social media

Once your article has been republished, advertise it in your social media accounts. This will help to cast new eyes on the piece and give it an extra boost. If you're already using a social media suite tool, planning to rotate old content should be a relatively easy step.

Track progress and adjust accordingly

If you haven't invested in SEO software yet, now is the time to do it. This type of solution is important to track the performance of the content being updated so that you understand whether your efforts are having an impact. In addition to user traffic, most SEO tools can measure the number of backlinks and keywords captured by your articles. If you can track progress, you can replicate the process if it works or make adjustments to your strategy if you don't get the results you hoped for. Give your newly updated articles about a month to see how they work.

Bottom line

New is not always better. If your marketing strategy needs a much-needed boost, you should invest time updating old content, regardless of whether you are targeting general SEO or local SEO. When done correctly, a content update can help you get remarkable traffic, motivate your audience, and show search engines that your blog post deserves first place on SERPs.

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