How to Update Old Content: 13-Step Checklist

How to Update Old Content: 13-Step Checklist

There are two things that all bloggers and marketers want to increase: traffic and leads. And there is one tried and true method to do it: re-optimize your existing content. Read on to learn why updating content is a good idea and how to do it step by step.

This shouldn't surprise you, but nothing lasts forever. Including your SEO success stories (I mean your blog posts with the highest Google rankings). Any content, no matter how good, grows stale over time. And it's totally normal. Especially today, when we have a content overload problem. Only think about it: in October 2011, there were 13 million posts published from blogs hosted on WordPress. 10 years later, in October 2021, people published 84 million blog posts. And that's just on WordPress!

It seems like businesses have finally understood how important content marketing is. That's a good thing. But there is bad news too: as more players are entering the field from all sides, it's getting much harder to get the top spot in Google. The problem is: Supply of content is growing, but demand isn't.

If you've been blogging consistently for a while, you know that roughly 50% of your content works, the other half is going completely unused. And you also know that your older posts bring more traffic. 

You can concentrate all your efforts on publishing new content to rank for new keywords. Or you can get more out of the content you already have.

Re-optimizing your existing content is just what the doctor called for:

  • By updating your content, you will get Google to index your site more often.
  • People are more likely to click on articles that are published recently, which means updated articles have higher click-through rates. 
  • Unlike new posts, your older content is easier to put back on the map. If your post already ranks on page two or three, just a little push could take it to page one.
  • Updated content is more useful for the reader. It's likely to bring more leads.

Every time we re-optimized our clients' existing content, we've seen an increase in both traffic and leads. 

Now when you know why you need to re-optimize your existing content, how do you determine which content to update?

How do you choose which content to re-optimize?

Prioritize blog posts that:

  • Used to bring a lot of traffic but their rankings dropped 
  • Brought leads in the past but don't perform well anymore
  • Can potentially bring leads but don’t rank 
  • And finally, your top-performing pages. If you don't help them remain on top, they might fall down.

Now when you've selected content that you want to put back to work, let's start optimizing it.

How to give your existing posts a second life

When you optimize your content, you want to look at it from two points of view: SEO and content quality.

Here are some SEO-related issues you need to review: 

1. Focus keywords

To review your keywords, you need a keyword tracking tool like Moz, a keyword research tool like Semrush, and a Google Search Console. Follow this checklist:

  • Identify what keywords your article is ranking for and what their current positions are.
  • Check if there are other pages on your website that rank for the same focus keyword. If yes, that's a bad thing, known as keyword cannibalization in SEO circles. If you cannibalize your own keywords, you’re competing with yourself for ranking in Google. You should decide which of these pages to keep and which one to merge or delete.
  • See if there are more keywords related to your focus keyword that you can add to your content to help it rank better.
  • Make sure your content isn't overstuffed with keywords. Delete unnecessarily repeating words or phrases, words that are out of context, and words that aren't relevant to the topic of your page.

2. Search intent

  • Type in the keyword you're targeting into the search bar and see what Google comes up with. This will help you determine the search intent
  • Make sure your content provides the best answers to the user queries and matches their search intent.

3. Metadata

  • Make sure your blog post has Meta Title, Meta Description, and H1 tag and that they include the keyword or key phrase you're targeting. Remember that it's always better to target long-tail keywords because they attract visitors with specific search intent and have a higher conversion value. 

4. Alt text

  • Check if your images have alt text that describes them as specifically as possible and includes relevant keywords.

5. Links

  • Calculate how many outbound links your page has. Make sure there are no more than five external links. Too many links will push your readers away from your site. 
  • Make sure your post has inbound links to other relevant content on your website. 

Here are some content quality-related issues you need to review: 

6. Value

  • Make sure your content is focused on solving a reader's problem and makes it easier for readers to make a decision. Use the jobs to be done framework to verify if your content is well matched to the job readers are hiring it to do.
  • Analyze your competitors' content on the same topic and compare it with yours. Is there anything you can do better?
  • Make sure your content communicates a clear key message or a core idea that you want your audience to hear and remember. 
  • Look for outdated information that you need to update such as data and statistics that are no longer relevant, examples of products that no longer exist, links to outdated sources of information, and anything else that is old and outdated.
  • Research your topic to find important information that you haven’t covered and add it to the text.

7. Lead

  • Optimize your introduction to make sure it hooks the reader and pulls them in.

8. Structure

  • See if your content is well structured and optimized for readability and inclusion
  • Check if your article’s structure is easy to scan through and if the header tag (H2-H6) hierarchy is correct.

9. Pictures

  • Make sure your content is graphically engaging and that your images add value to the text.

10. Length

  • Measure the number of words on your page and compare it with the number of words on other pages that rank for the same focus keyword. Content length is correlated with better search rankings, so you need to aim at about 1500 words or more. 

11. Uniqueness

  • Use a plagiarism checker to see if your content is at least 80% unique.

12. Sales pitch 

  • Make sure your article "sells" your brand and showcases your expertise to increase conversion.

13. Call to action

There you have it. Here are 13 things you need to review when updating your content:

  1. Focus keywords
  2. Search intent
  3. Metadata
  4. Alt text
  5. Links
  6. Value
  7. Lead
  8. Structure
  9. Pictures
  10. Length
  11. Uniqueness
  12. Sales pitch
  13. CTA

Watch it instead:

Every week I share my ideas and tips on content marketing with writers, B2B marketers, and business owners. Subscribe to my YouTube channel so you never miss a new video.

Time to breathe new life into your content and finally get those keywords you’ve been targeting! Once your re-optimization is done, ask Google to recrawl your site using Google Search Console. This will help your updated content climb on top faster.

Remember that updating your content should be your regular activity, but you can't completely give up on creating new blog posts. In other words, you should do both: optimize the past and create the new.

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