Update Old Content To Improve Google Rankings

by Marc Bromhall
Updated: January 12, 2021

Before investing in new content we always recommend to our customers that they spend some time and effort updating old content. There are three reasons why you want to do this:

  • Google loves fresh content.
  • There’ll be many articles on your website that are just not quite there in the rankings. They may either be at the bottom of page 1 or the top of page 2. All they need is a little bit of effort to move them up the search results.
  • It’s generally more affordable than investing in new content.

google ranking

A case in point

One of our customers is a sports site called Golf Assessor. One of their top posts historically was on the best waterproof golf shoes. Then in 2019 the rankings started to slide downhill for this post. They then hired our content writing services in May 2019 to help turn things around. 

As you can see from the screenshot below, the lowest point for them was around 800 page views a month in April. In 6 months we were able to 5x this traffic and restore the post to its former page views of around 4,000 per month.

ranking drop

How we achieved these results

Here are 7 tips you can follow to achieve similar results.

1. Update the publish date

As you can see on the image below all of the articles were published in the last 2-3 months. There is a good chance these articles were actually published several years ago and the webmasters have recently updated the publish dates.

publish date

This is a quick win which you can apply by simply amending the “published on” section. Besides it being beneficial for Google it’s also beneficial for the reader. If I was combing through the search results I’d rather click on a 2021 result than one from 2016. 

2. Improve CTR (Click-through-rate)

You can do this by using better meta data. One quick win is to make sure that you have the current year in your SEO article title. When it comes to the meta description using power words or numbers can have a positive impact on the CTR. 

improve ctr

3. Use Grammarly

This was a game changer for us at Contentellect. It’s a really nifty little application that sits in your chrome browser or you can install it on your desktop. Whenever you are writing an article it will provide suggestions on how you can improve the grammar, spelling and overall readability of your articles. 

fix grammar

It also has a WordPress plugin which makes it easy to go back and edit older blog posts. Now these improvements may not directly affect SEO, but by improving the user experience only bodes well for your site in the long run.

4. Fixing broken links

Use a free tool like dead link checker or a paid tool like Ahrefs to run a quick audit on all the links on your site. Beyond this you’ll also want to think a little more strategically about your existing links. Are any of your existing links outdated or no longer relevant? Can you point to a new and more authoritative source?

fix broken links

Finally, you should also be thinking about the internal linking on your site. Are there contextually relevant articles that are not currently linking to each other. For example an article on the best waterproof golf shoes could link to an article on the best golf socks and vice versa.

5. Improving the formatting of your article

Below is an article we found on the bottom of page 1 of Google. The title is not capitalised, and paragraphs are chunky making them cumbersome to read with ease. It doesn’t have any images. One of the ways to learn about formatting best-practice is to look at a few different examples of articles that are ranking in the first and second position in Google.

improve formatting

6. Update your content

By this we mean updating your content so that it is as or more detailed than that of your competitors. One clever way to do this is to check the “also asked” for your keyword. You can then address these questions on your article thereby covering the topic in greater detail and outshining your competitors.

update content

Another method is to use a paid tool like Ahrefs to discover all the potential keywords within a group. Remember that this is in a state of flux. By checking in every 6 months or so, you’ll be able to identify which keywords may be missing from your article.

You can then bake them into your article thereby making it more detailed and expanding the organic reach of the article. Watch the video below to see how to do this.

7. Promote across the socials

Once you’ve made all the above mentioned changes, we advise that you re-share this post across the social channels where your audience lives. By getting it back out into the social sphere, Google will pick up on the social signals which will in turn help boost the SEO efficacy.

Conclusion

By following the 7 steps we’ve outlined above relating to updating old content, we are confident that you’ll be able to take articles that are sitting just outside of the meaningful search engine rankings and move them into positions which will certainly move the needle on traffic. Good luck!

 

Marc Bromhall

Marc co-founded Contentellect in 2018. He is an experienced marketer having previously worked for two Adtech unicorns - Outbrain and ROKT. At Contentellect, Marc helped scale the company from start-up to 6 figures in revenue. In 2021, he stepped down as MD and has subsequently moved on to pursue other projects.


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