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How to Refresh Old Blog Posts

Lindsay Halsey

Lindsay Halsey is a co-founder of Pathfinder SEO. She has over 10 years of experience working in SEO with small to large businesses. Lindsay focuses on teaching site owners, freelancers, and agencies how to get found on Google via a guided approach to SEO. Stay in touch on Twitter - @linds_halsey.

When it comes to SEO, most marketers focus on creating brand new content based on a long list of targeted blog post topics. They’ve invested a great deal of time to discover — and then write about — new and trending topics.

Creating new content is an essential component of SEO, but you don’t always have to write new content. Instead (especially if you’ve been blogging for a while), you’ll find a treasure trove of prime opportunities in your already-published content.

Identify Opportunities to Revise Old Content

Start looking for existing opportunities by scanning through your old blog posts in reverse chronological order. Here are our suggestions based on what you see:

  • Is the post too short? It’s time to lengthen your copy.
  • Have you written about the same topic in multiple posts? It’s time to combine two posts into one longer and more comprehensive post.
  • Does your post lack structure? It’s time to add engaging, keyword-optimized headers.
  • Does your post lack keywords? It’s time to integrate focused keywords into your copy.
  • Is your post completely text-based? It’s time to add images or a video.
  • Does your post contain only images? It’s time to add some copy.

You can also utilize the Google Search Console to identify opportunities. Navigate to the Performance tab to see what posts have gotten the most traction over the past year.

google search console data

Here are our suggestions based on what you see:

  • Does a post have keywords that rank 10-20 on average? It’s time to refresh the post and go after these phrases more aggressively, with the goal of landing on Page 1 of Google.
  • Was a post performing well, then performance seemed to decrease? It’s time to update the post.
  • Has a post been ranking for keywords that you didn’t know existed? It’s time to revise the post and add in those phrases to get even more mileage.
  • Is a post driving more traffic than you ever could have imagined? This is a nice surprise. Does that post have a clear call to action to turn that traffic into a lead or sale? If not, create one.

Create a Content Revision Playbook

Now that you have a focused direction and action steps to take, it’s time to get organized. Add your content revision ideas into your content marketing calendar.

(Note: You might need to pause here and teach your team or client why revising content is as valuable — or even more valuable — than creating a brand new post on a brand new topic.)

Strike a balance between writing brand new posts and revising existing ones; the right balance will depend on how much old content you have. If your list of revision suggestions is short, then maybe you’ll work 75% on new content and 25% on revisions. If your list of revisions is long (you’ve been blogging for a long time), then you might focus 25% on new posts and 75% on revisions.

Start Writing

Commit to your new calendar and start writing. There are many ways to start writing more. Here are our suggestions:

  • Write in the morning. Make it the first thing you do.
  • Break your writing into 30-minute increments. You can do anything for 30 minutes, right?
  • Keep yourself accountable (that’s where coaching comes in). Having a business or SEO coach helps turn your goals into actual deadlines.
  • Outsource when necessary. Google values your expertise, not expertise from a third party. But writing can be challenging for some people. In that case, start with a solid outline of your piece, then provide resources to an outsourced writer. We like the team at Crowd Content.

How to Update Your Existing Blog Post

With finalized content updates in hand, it’s time to update the post on your website. Log in to your website backend and navigate to the existing page or post. As you update your content, keep these best practices in mind.

Uses Headers (H1 - H6)

Don’t just make a header bold or bigger; use the proper H1 - H6 HTML tags to order your content. These are strong contextual signals to both search engines and your readers. Using header tags keeps the appearance of your blog post content consistent, and you won’t have to remember to style each header the same.

Update the Publish Date

Should you update your publish date when revising a blog post? The answer is yes! If you make substantial changes to a post, then by all means set a new publish date. Readers are more likely to read a recent post, and Google prioritizes recently created content.

A note of caution: simply swapping a sentence or two isn’t a revision. You want to make significant changes to a post if you’re going to change the publish date. If your edits are minor, leave the publish date as-is.

Don’t Forget to Customize Page Titles & Meta Descriptions

This is how we market a page in the search engine results. Learn more about how to write and add engaging, SEO-friendly page titles and meta descriptions to your posts.

Review Your URLs

Generally speaking, we want to leave the current URL in place, since the search engines are already familiar with this URL and the existing post has already established backlinks.

Sometimes, though, we notice that a URL includes an old date (which sabotages evergreen status). Take, for example, a permalink such as /seo-in-2019. If I revise and update this post every year, I’m tempted to update this to /seo-in-2021 or /seo-in-2022. Which means that every year, I’m going to throw the search engines a curveball by changing the URL.

That curve ball can be easier for search engines to handle if I proactively create a 301 redirect, but it’s still unnecessarily murky. Instead, create evergreen URLs for your content such as /seo-this-year. You can then use the same URL year-round. You can update the title on your page to read “SEO in 2021: Tips for Growth” but leave the URL alone.

Refreshing Old Blog Posts

Updating your existing website content is a great way to grow your organic search traffic this year. Like everything, there is a balance between creating a brand new blog post and revising an existing one. Find the balance for your business and get writing!

Lindsay Halsey

Lindsay Halsey is a co-founder of Pathfinder SEO. She has over 10 years of experience working in SEO with small to large businesses. Lindsay focuses on teaching site owners, freelancers, and agencies how to get found on Google via a guided approach to SEO. Stay in touch on Twitter - @linds_halsey.

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