Updated on May 27, 2021. Originally published on Sept. 16, 2020.
On-site content is a critical component of any good content marketing strategy. It allows you to provide value to your target audience, attract visitors to your website, educate leads about your industry and services, and nurture those leads closer to becoming customers. But for that on-site content to be effective, it has to be engaging and current.
So how can you keep your blog flush with the up-to-date insights your audience craves? Writing new content is an obvious answer, but it's not the only option. In addition to writing new blog posts, you should also be updating your old ones.
At Influence & Co., we've seen the benefits of updating older content firsthand. We published a blog post about how to write an effective guest post pitch email in 2014. Over time, this article started to rank well in search results and bring organic traffic to our site. However, the engagement stopped there. Readers weren't clicking on calls to action, and they didn't seem to be sticking around to engage with our other content. So in February 2021, we decided to make some updates.
For starters, we realized that we had three very similar blog posts on the same topic, so instead of continuing to split traffic across three separate pages, we consolidated the content into one in-depth blog post and redirected the other URLs to the updated one. From there, we also added links to other relevant content on our site, added some updated keywords throughout, optimized our calls to action to be more visible and direct, and added updated information.
The results? Between Feb. 2, 2021, and May 27, 2021, our updated blog post brought in more than 6,000 page views (5,896 entrances), 24 form submissions, and 19 new contacts. The bounce rate and exits per page view went down by 2% each, and readers were spending an average of 5.8 minutes on the page. This blog post even influenced a sale.
Want to see results from your older blog content but not sure when you should update it? Here are three surefire signs that your blog posts need a refresh:
The first and most obvious sign that a blog post should be updated is timeliness. If you've done a content audit and discovered that you have a blog post that's still attracting readers long after the publish date, those readers are probably encountering some outdated information.
Once you've identified a blog post that's dated but is still attracting readers, review the content with a fine-tooth comb: Which stats can be updated? Does the post use any dated terminology? Does the content make any references to technologies or strategies that have changed since publication? Can you replace any older examples with new ones? Do the images still capture attention and mesh with your branding?
At Influence & Co., we published a blog post in 2015 about why niche publications can sometimes be better for your content strategy than mainstream sites. By 2020, the article was still attracting readers, and the topic was still important for our content marketing strategy, so we decided to give the article a refresh. In addition to replacing the blog post's feature image with something that better matches our current branding, we also swapped out an older example. This blog post has a "case study" section, but the original was several years old. So we opted to replace the old example with something new that would better illustrate our message in the current publishing landscape.
Another indicator that your content could benefit from a refresh is that your blog post ranks on the first page of search results but isn't getting much engagement. Low engagement could be a low volume of clicks on your calls to action, low time on page, high bounce rate, or fewer comments or shares than other content on your blog.
If this is the case for one of your blog posts, take a good, hard look at the article and determine whether you have opportunities to make the content more engaging. Can you illustrate a point or a statistic with a visual? Can you add an interactive element? Are your calls to action relevant to the content, clear, and action-inducing? Are you posing a thought-provoking question to encourage comments?
We've updated several of our blog posts to spur engagement. For example, our blog post about writing productivity was ranking on the first page of search results for, well, "writing productivity." Great news, right? The problem was that once visitors arrived on our site to read the post, the engagement stopped.
The primary engagement metric we look at is our CTA rate, which is the percentage of people who saw a CTA and proceeded to click on that same CTA. This lets us know whether our calls to action are encouraging people to continue engaging with more content on our site. The writing productivity blog post had a very low CTA rate, so we decided to refresh that article's calls to action to encourage further engagement with our site.
High search visibility isn't the only indicator that a blog post might be a candidate for a refresh. If you have a blog post on your site that ranks low in search results but garners high engagement for you, it might be a good idea to update it. The post obviously entices your audience to engage with your content, so why not try to improve its search visibility so you can reach more people?
Before you can effectively update your content to improve SEO, you have to perform keyword research. Unless you've done the digging and determined what keywords would be valuable for you to target, you'll be left throwing keywords at the wall and hoping they stick.
Once you have a keyword list, look through your blog post and find ways to naturally include relevant keywords in the content. The operative words here are naturally and relevant. Include only keywords that are relevant to the topic at hand, and intersperse them in a way that reads naturally — and no keyword stuffing, please.
After you've updated a piece of content, don't forget to determine whether it makes sense to add an "updated" date at the top. If you've only added some links and adjusted CTAs, it's probably not necessary. But if you changed any of the content itself, you'll need to let readers know. We typically use this formatting on our blog: Originally published on Sept. 8, 2015. Updated on June 11, 2020.
Also, remember that simply updating examples, images, and keywords might not be enough. If a blog post is badly outdated, it might make sense to completely rewrite the content, publish it as a new blog post, and then redirect the old post's URL to the new one. Or if there are multiple related pieces of outdated content, you could take those pieces, combine the information and add any necessary updates, publish one new blog post, and then redirect the old URLs to the new one. Whatever strategy you choose, just make sure that the updates you make will add value for your audience.
When it comes to updating old blog posts, there are so many options, and this article only begins to scratch the surface. I hope these three signals that your blog posts need to be updated can help you start on your journey toward more effective, engaging on-site content.
I'm a content-obsessed word person with a passion for finding the coziest coffee shop in town. By day, I'm the director of content at Influence & Co. In my downtime, you can find me reading a book, sipping a latte, drawing, hand lettering, or watching "The Office" for the zillionth time.