The “where” of a content refresh is simple; if you were wondering why it didn’t make it into the title of this blog post.
That’s right. In this blog post, we’re going to introduce the concept of a content refresh (on your site) and explain the following:
- Why you should update your website content
- How often should content be updated?
- Which content should you refresh first
- How to conduct a content refresh
First up, the basics…
What is a content refresh?
Content refreshing is a content marketing strategy that involves revamping your old content.
Conducting a content refresh more often than not leads to an increase in leads and traffic.
Scratch that. It’s getting back the old traffic and leads you used to have, and more.
The concept is fairly simple:
- Identify old content that used to have good traffic
- Plan what can be updated
- Update the content
- Republish it
- Promote it all over again
Content refreshes are still very much ignored – even in 2023 when the results are clear to see.
People post their success on social media all the time.
It seems easier to focus on producing new content.
New keywords! New traffic!
But if you don’t top up the traffic you’re losing, it’s a constant cycle of creating content and then seeing it dwindle into obscurity.
By conducting a content refresh, you recondition old content into new content. And, as you’ve already got a solid base to start from (e.g. an entire blog post), the time to execute is considerably less than writing a new 3,000-word blog post.
Isn’t this a great way of doing less to get more results?
This blog post is very much dedicated to teaching you how to conduct your own content refresh..
Keep reading and you’ll learn the What, Why, When, and Who of refreshing your content.
Why should you update your website content?
You should update your website content to make sure it’s always fresh, accurate, and providing the best possible experience for visitors.
When you do this, Google rewards you with better ranking positions and more SERP elements.
The overall outcome? More traffic.
Building backlinks or creating new blogs may take several months to produce meaningful results but updating your website content can affect your search rankings in a few weeks, days, or even hours.
Singlegrain grew its entire web traffic by 96% just by updating old content.
After identifying weak sections, adding value to them, and making the content as relevant as possible, a significant portion of Singlegrain’s decayed articles saw a huge spike in traffic.
(We’ll get onto what you should update later in this article.)
In addition to updating existing content to boost traffic, Google rewards creators who keep their content fresh by awarding them featured snippets and other SERP elements.
Google recently released its helpful content algorithm update which emphasises the importance of creating “people-first content.”
By people-first, Google means that every piece of content should aim to genuinely address the searcher’s pain points and intent with the best possible answers.
This is called search intent. You should aim to match your content with the intent of the keyphrases you target.
Regularly improving your headers and meta descriptions, or adding fresh ideas that further clarify your post, is a clever way to create content with this Google update in mind, as well as satisfy user intent.
🧠 Don’t forget: writing for Google and writing for your intended audience should be the same thing.
“Content updates are crucial for brands to provide the most accurate, relevant, and up-to-date information for its audience.”Precious Obodhie, content marketer at Content Estate.
The ROI of a content refresh
73% of bloggers who update their blog posts are 2.8x more likely to see better results, according to data from Orbit Media.
That explains why content refreshes are a popular practice among bloggers today.
Like every marketing campaign, measuring the ROI of a content refresh project can be tricky.
The amount of traffic, leads, and conversions you get from updating existing content compared to publishing new blog posts can depend on several factors like domain rating (DR), content strategy, and content type.
A blog with a DR of 20 might struggle to rank ahead of another blog with DR 70 and tons of backlinks, even if it updates its content regularly.
That said, brands that practice this concept enjoy incredible results.
After updating its Instagram Hashtags guide in 2021, originally published in 2016, Hootsuite is now generating over 200K monthly visits from the piece.
This asset also ranks for multiple keywords like best hashtags for Instagram, top hashtags on Instagram, and Instagram hashtags.
HubSpot’s historical optimization project also did well. By updating and republishing old content, HubSpot hit gold and grew its website traffic.
For example, one of its post’s was ranking for the keyphrase “how to write a press release”. Since refreshing their content, it now brings in three times more leads.
To increase the conversion rate of this post, HubSpot’s content team paired relevant offers, a tactic that boosted the conversion rate by 240%.
Keep in mind that while updating old content is a good strategy, it’s important to start with your “money posts”—posts that account for a significant portion of your web traffic and leads.
If you increase both/either your conversion or traffic, you’ll see the ROI of these content pieces increase.
Of over 200 posts published monthly on the Hubspot blog, only 30 account for 46% of Hubspot monthly leads.
Another example is Mio.
Through one content refresh, a high-performing Mio blog post grew from 36,387 monthly views to 302,082 monthly views.
Increasing the traffic by 715%, the ROI of this asset significantly increased thanks to:
- 10+ featured snippets
- A concentrated conversion rate increase
- Page 1 ranking for 700+ variations of the target keyphrase
In this example, the ROI of the content refresh was over 1% growth per £ spent.
How often should content be updated?
The best content marketing is fresh, unique, and relevant to the reader.
You should update your content when there are new trends, keyword ideas, and pain points related to your topic.
You should also update content regularly to avoid content decay. Doing this helps to prevent your years of hard work from going down the drain.
Let’s explore this in more detail.
What is content decay?
Content decay is the result of prioritizing new content, with little or no concern for old content.
It’s the moment when content published years ago begins to lose search traffic.
Case in point, when a post on “VoIP service providers” with initial traffic of 10,000 views per month has declined to 3,000 per month, it has decayed.
Content decay can occur due to competition, trends, technical issues, or outdated topics.
Some tactics for preventing content decay include:
- Rewriting content
- Making regular updates
- Consolidating similar pages into a single post
Ultimately, you should update content before you start to suffer content decay.
“If you’re proactive, you focus on preparing. If you’re reactive, you end up focusing on repairing.”John C. Maxwell, author of The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership.
How often should you refresh content for SEO?
Ideally, content refreshes should become a regular and vital part of your content strategy.
While some content marketers advise refreshing blog posts only when there’s an obvious decline in website traffic, that’s not an effective tactic.
User needs changes, competitors create better articles, and Google is always rolling out new updates.
Both readers and search engines can spot outdated content, which can mean a high bounce rate and potential loss of traffic and revenue if your content is out of date.
So, instead of being reactive, smart marketers avoid content decay and loss of ranking position by keeping a frequent content refresh schedule.
This could be anything from six to twelve months since the last update depending on the type of content and industry.
👉🏽 A news or media publication might need to update its post daily. By contrast, evergreen content can last for several months or even years before they need updating.
It’s essential to consider your budget when optimising existing content.
“A brand like HubSpot can afford to update its content consistently because they have the people and money to make it happen,” says Precious Obodhie, content marketer at Content Estate.
“But a smaller brand needs to prioritise its content update frequency and have specific reasons for each update.”
To ensure a post is refresh-worthy, ask these questions:
- Is the content driving revenue?
- Was it driving revenue before and stopped?
- Is there a new opportunity to drive revenue?
- Did the content have a low bounce rate and keep people on your site?
All these are great reasons to refresh your content.
So, where to start?
Which content should I refresh first?
Start with your content that used to rank high but has dropped.
You can find this by these two methods:
- Content marketing audit
- Using SEO tools
1 – Content marketing audit
By auditing your existing content, you find web pages that used to have lots of organic traffic but the number has dropped.
Here’s how to identify poor-performing content with content audit using Google Analytics:
- Sync Google Analytics (GA) to Google Search Console (GSC).
- Navigate to Acquisition > Search Console > Landing Pages.
- Create a segment for organic traffic in GA to see ranking changes in google over time.
- Set a time frame for comparison.
Segments allow you to focus your report on particular sections of your traffic—e.g. Indian visitors or people who find your website in organic search results.
To create a new segment in Google Analytics 4, you’ll need to first create an exploration report and then apply a segment.
Navigate to Explore in the main menu on the left and click the blank button to create an exploration report.
To easily access this report, you can name it “Organic traffic.” Once you’ve created the report, you’ll see a segment tab on the left.
Click on the + button and navigate and then on User segment to create a segment for organic traffic.
💡 Tip: Try a six-month period if you don’t know where to start.
From the result, you’ll see pages that have lost rankings over time and those that improved impressions.
If you see an important page on your site losing traffic, copy the keyword and look them up in search to see their current positions.
2 – Use SEO tools to identify ranking changes
Popular rank-tracking SEO tools can do the legwork for you, helping you identify your ranking changes in a matter of minutes.
But you have to pay for them. Fine, if you already pay for them. This exercise will add ROI to what you already use them for.
If you don’t like the sound of that, scroll back up to the Google Analytics section. Everybody has free access to Google Analytics.
Tools like Semrush and Ahrefs automatically generate your ranking data in an easy-to-read report.
On top of that, these tools offer content gap features that allow you to analyze your competitor’s keywords.
So, you’re not only improving your content, but checking if your competitors are including things you originally omitted.
🧠 Make a conscious decision whether you need to include this content. You don’t have to include something just because a competitor has.
In Ahrefs, you can monitor ranking data over several countries both on desktop and mobile. Useful if you’re planning to expand your reach.
How to conduct a content refresh
We’ve identified seven core components of a content refresh:
- Basic spelling and grammar
- Out-of-date statistics
- Internal links
- New keyword opportunities
- Optimisation of existing components
- External quotes
You don’t have to but we suggest working through these in order (so you don’t start doing too many things at once).
1 – Basic spelling and grammar
You might miss some simple errors when you first publish your content. We’ve all experienced the rush of hitting the magic publish button.
According to Google’s SEO Starter Guide, you should avoid “writing sloppy text with many spelling and grammatical mistakes.”
So, providing well-written, grammatically sound articles is one of the few ways to be in Google’s good book.
And it’s pretty easy to achieve that with a free tool like Grammarly.
Grammarly provides comprehensive feedback on grammar, punctuation, and style issues, helping you make good impressions with readers.
If you use WordPress, you can install the Grammarly plugin to quickly fix these grammatical mistakes without going back to google docs.
But don’t be afraid of breaking simple grammar rules. In fact, we encourage some.
Often, sounding human is better than abiding by every rule.
Start sentences with and. End sentences with prepositions. Do what feels right for your content.
What matters is understanding user intent, how your audience responds, and providing the best answers to their queries while ensuring readability and clarity.
In short, pages rank higher when they are well-written.
This is an essential part to consider in your content refresh.
2 – Out of date statistics
The goal of statistics is to create public awareness and build credibility.
But when the statistics aren’t correct or credible, what happens?
People click away 👋
A well-written article with data from five years ago signals you don’t respect their time on your website.
In most cases, the reader will bounce and never return, which can affect your ranking position, traffic, and brand reputation.
If you mention stats on your blog, make sure you link to the original source, not a round-up of statistics curated by another publication.
You can find these in press releases, independent research, and on social media.
3 – Internal links
Internal links are crucial for your SEO strategy because Google follows links to discover and rank your content.
Yet most content marketers and business owners still neglect this hack.
In Animalz’s Content Marketing Benchmark report, we learn the median number of internal links within SaaS articles is 0.
This is an obvious missed opportunity to boost traffic and website authority.
Links signal to Google that you’re an authority on specific topics and help to understand your website structure.
As an extra bonus, they also allow readers to continue their journey on your site.
If you are a SaaS company, for instance, adding internal links gives readers an avenue to roam your site, and become engaged, before committing to trying your products.
So, should you just add a bunch of links over time?
Google frowns upon content with broken links. It literally signals your content is out of date.
And audiences don’t love them, either.
Nobody wants to click to learn more about the phrase and not get what they asked for.
If the post you linked to earlier was removed, replace the link with new, relevant content.
When you’ve written multiple articles about a certain topic you should link them with each other.
This signals to Google that you’re an authority on the topic and that your site contains relevant information, which can improve your ranking on the search result.
4 – New keyword opportunities
Some of your posts might have high growth potential, but for some reason, they didn’t deliver the expected organic traffic and pageviews.
For this kind of post, targeting multiple keyword variations, including secondary and long tail keywords with low search volume can boost performance.
Simple Legal is an example of a brand that grew its traffic with this strategy. By targeting 10 other keywords in one of its articles, page views climbed from 49 to 3,906.
Long tail keywords account for most searches on google. They are specific and precisely define what someone is looking for.
For example, users are likely to search for “what is gamification in a contact center” compared to “gamification.”
There are several ways to uncover long-tail keywords.
Google’s Auto Suggest and People Also Ask features are good places to start.
5 – Optimisation of existing components
Once you incorporate secondary keywords, it’s time to update and optimise meta descriptions, titles, and images.
Improving these components can help to boost your click-through rate (CTR)—a metric that shows how many people click on your link on the search result page.
In other words, while they are not Google ranking factors, they increase the likelihood that searchers will click on your blog posts when they search for relevant keywords.
So, where do you begin?
Start with your meta description. You can improve your meta descriptions by adding your focus keywords and phrases that show searchers they’ll find their answers on your page.
Keep the word count under 160 characters and ensure the description is accurate and concise. This also stops your descriptions from being cut off and looking messy.
Title tags are searcher’s first point of contact when they search for solutions on q search engine. So, it’s essential to make them click-worthy.
Instead of using generic headlines, lead with your focus keyword and prioritize matching search intent.
Use tools like Coschedule’s headline analyzer to create actionable and benefit-driven title tags and blog post headlines.
Next, reduce the size of your images. Heavy images cause your web pages to load slowly.
“The biggest trend in SEO isn’t a ranking factor. It’s a click-through rate (CTR) factor.”Andy Crestodina, in Semrush’s State of Content Marketing Report.
6 – External quotes
With Google emphasising unique content, adding external quotes and insights from experts in your industry is one of the best ways to stand out in a pool of regurgitated search results.
Partnering with subject matter experts makes your content original and human, increasing your clicks and conversion.
How do you find experts to contribute to your articles?
Some marketers lean on tools like Help A Reporter or Terkel. But nothing beats forming relationships with folks in your industry.
Interact with analysts, influencers, keynote speakers, ambassadors, and evangelists appropriate to the topics you write about. Embed yourself in the community so you become friends (online or otherwise).
When the time is right, ask them if they’d like to be featured in your blog.
This way, you’ve already vetted the people responding to your queries. Cherry-picking high-quality responses is far superior to asking a question to a pool of strangers.
7 – Graphics
Graphics help make your content memorable.
A properly structured blog post with white space, bullet points, a well-written header, and intriguing pictures grabs attention and will always win over content that doesn’t.
Add infographics, memes, GIFs, or screenshots. Embed a video or a tweet.
To increase page load times, avoid large images. Use image conversion tools like squoosh.app or install the Tiny PNG WordPress plugin to adjust images size while maintaining quality.
Be sure the graphics are relevant and consistent with the rest of your content. Add as many as you need to help emphasise a point. Then add alt text for accessibility.
Start your content refresh today
Refreshing your content is an easy way to obtain new (and old) traffic without spending time coming up with (and writing) new blog posts.
While this post outlines a tried and tested process for refreshing your content, you might simply lack the time to dedicate to such a task.
If you need help, book a content refresh here.