In a perfect world, everything you publish on your website or blog would get tons of views and traffic, FOREVER. You spend hours thinking, writing and producing content so it only seems fair, right? But inevitably over time, interest starts to wane until it brings little to no traffic. ß that’s content decay, by the way.
You could post new content every week to boost views, but honestly who always has the time and energy? This article is the first of a two-part series that shows you how to make the most out of the content you already have. In part I (what you’re reading now), you’ll learn why it’s important to refresh your content (and how to do it). In part II, I’ll guide you on how to repurpose your existing content to expand its engagement through other platforms.
But first: WHY DOES CONTENT LOSE TRAFFIC OVER TIME ANYWAY?
- All else being equal, Google prioritizes fresher content. The good news is their algorithms don’t really care whether your article topic is totally original or just refreshed. It does like to focus on whether it’s recent and relevant though (for example, all links are working and up-to-date).
- There are 6 million blog posts being published daily, according to Hosting Tribunal. So yeah, you have competition.
HOW DOES A CONTENT REFRESH HELP?
- By updating your old blog posts or website content, you show Google that your stuff is up-to-date and relevant – giving your content a better shot at reaching your target audience.
- Think about the search results you like to see. Would you rather read an article from 2021 or 2014? Unsurprisingly, fresh content performs better with audiences because they assume it contains the most updated information.
- It’s easier on you. It takes a lot less time refreshing content that’s performed well in the past and re-promoting it, than it is to write something completely new.
HOW TO DECIDE WHICH CONTENT TO REFRESH
Good news! A refresh does not mean a total gut overhaul. Rather, we’re going to focus on the content that’s most likely to have the most impact. That’s where a content audit comes in. In my last blog post about content readability, I stressed how important it is to ask yourself questions that will help you achieve your goal. And that’s all this audit is, too. Choose the content that checks these boxes:
- Is this content evergreen? Evergreen content is content that’s always relevant to readers (aka timeless). Your content probably already has a lot of these, like how-tos and tips and tricks. Some best practices may change depending on your industry, but if the overall ideas are the same, a little update can bring this content back to life.
- Do the numbers back it up? Check Google Analytics, or whatever analytics software you use, to see which content had the most engagement. What was once popular is more likely to be popular again.
- Are people interested in this topic? Here’s an easy way to check: Go to Google Trends to see whether your topics or keywords are, well, trending. If you have dedicated SEO software like SEMrush, you can obviously check top performing keywords there too, and in more detail.
LET’S START REFRESHING THAT CONTENT
Now that you’ve got suitable candidates, let’s actually do this thing. Your content may require just one or all of the following strategies depending on what’s causing the decay:
- Despite all you’ve heard that “people don’t read anymore these days,” longer is better when it comes to blog posts, with the ideal blog post length around 1,600 to 2,500 words, according to research from BlogTyrant. Why? Because longer blog posts answer all your readers’ questions in one page, which also increases time spent on that page. Longer posts also rank better on Google. If you choose to expand, do it with a critical eye: does this topic need more context? Are there actually 10 tips I can give instead of 5? Always keep in mind that you’re there to deliver more value to the reader, rather than just reaching a word count quota.
- Now’s a good time to include up-to-date research, best practices and check that all links are working. Find any spelling or grammatical errors? Correct them!
- Here’s where you can identify opportunities to optimize/update SEO elements in your title tag, the main headline and secondary headline; meta descriptions; image alt-text; variations of your target keywords throughout the article; and keywords in the URL.
- If you have a lot of topics that overlap, it might be a good idea to merge them together (this is especially true if one of the posts is fairly short, see first bullet). You may end up with fewer posts, but they’ll be higher quality.
- Re-promote. Sometimes all it takes is promoting your content again through your social channels or email newsletters, and adding more backlinks. You’ve probably written a lot of content since these older posts and it’s not a bad idea to link to older articles within your newer pieces.
Newer isn’t always better. If your traffic and content need a boost, considering working smarter rather than harder by doing a content refresh. Stay tuned for the next part of the series, where we go through how to repurpose your current content.