How to Refresh Old Blog Posts for Better Performance

Refreshing old blog posts is just as important as publishing new ones. Read this to learn how to revamp your old pages to boost their traffic.

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Don’t look back; you’re not going that way.

It’s deep, it’s inspirational, and it’s the perfect Instagram bio for those who aspire to be EdGy.

Except, if you’re running a blog, “back” is exactly where you should be going.

One of the biggest mistakes we see in the content marketing industry is the unquenched “thirst” to publish new and fresh content. But circling back to and refreshing old content is equally — if not more — important.

Here’s why you should start refreshing old blog posts if you’re not already (and how to do it!):

The Importance of Refreshing Old Blog Posts

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There’s nothing wrong with pushing out more content, snatchin’ up more keyword rankings, and creating new pages to drive traffic.

Heck, even Jay-Z said, “On to the next keyword.” (Wait, nevermind.)

However, revisiting those earlier posts — yes, even the super-early ones that make you cringe to this day — will help your site’s overall performance.

There are a few reasons for this:

Google Judges Every Page Individually

Metrics like Domain Rating and Authority trick a lot of SEOs into thinking that Google assesses every site exclusively as a whole. But they also assess each page (or URL) on an individual basis.

If a certain post isn’t cracking the top 20, 15, or 10, even a small tweak — like a new-and-improved H1 title — could increase that page’s keyword ranking.

AKA: Those early posts can still come back!

Google Rewards Sites That Update Old Content

First, it fell off page one. Now, it’s hardly breaking the top 100.

If your old posts are suddenly losing their rankings, it could be that their content is now “outdated.” This is especially true in a fast-paced niche, where any new study, statistic, or bit of research can shift the entire industry’s course.

Adding fresh, up-to-date content to your older posts could breathe those bad boys back to life in the rankings.

You Can Revisit Old Posts With Topical Authority

As a business owner, it only makes sense that your first few attempts at blogging involved bottom-of-the-funnel content. (Or, broader content written almost purely to turn readers into paying customers.)

However, now, you have plenty more blog posts covering even “nichier” subtopics. Your site now has more topical authority, making it prime time to return to those older posts for a fresh, authoritative update.

Links Don’t Matter Without Good Content

A high-quality backlink from an industry big name can send hoards of traffic to your site. But it goes without saying that getting those backlinks requires something actually worth sharing.

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Easy Ways to Refresh Old Blog Posts

The good news is that refreshing your old blog posts doesn’t require you to rewrite old posts from scratch or even delete them entirely.

In fact, all it might take is a few minor tweaks to get your older pages to see the glory that is page one.

Here are five steps you can take to refresh old content to improve its performance:

  1. Eliminate keyword cannibalization
  2. Update outdated information
  3. Test some new text in the post
  4. Add some new, original media
  5. Reoptimize your UX

We’ll explain each of these steps in more detail below:

1. “Un-Cannibalize” Your Site

One of the more common (and arguably most gruesome-sounding) SEO mistakes we see is that of keyword cannibalization.

That’s what happens when you push out several pieces of content that all try to rank for the same keywords. Google becomes confused about which one to rank, turning you into your own competition.

Un-cannibalizing might not be a real word (yet). But if it were, the fix would be to consolidate all of your competing posts into a single, well-written, in-depth article to help your rankings.
Don’t have SEMRush or Search Console set up? You can do a rudimentary cannibalization check by typing your page’s target keyword into Google and making sure that the correct page ranks highest for that keyword.

How to Identify Keyword Cannibalization

Here are a two software platforms that can show you if your page is cannibalizing keywords from another page (or vice versa):

  • SEMRush: The Position Tracking feature has a Cannibalization tab shows you when multiple pages on your site rank for a target keyword.
  • Google Search Console: GSC allows you to see all of the pages that rank for a certain term, and you can use this info to verify that the right page is ranking for each keyword

Don’t have SEMRush or Search Console set up? You can do a rudimentary cannibalization check by typing your page’s target keyword into Google and making sure that the correct page ranks highest for that keyword.

2. Update Outdated Information

Think about yourself.

If you’re researching local tax laws or how to fix a problem with your iPhone, would you click an article published in 2015? 2019? Or, are you going to click something published within the last year?

The publication date of a post gives prospective readers an inkling about how “up-to-date” that article is.

When you do return to old articles, be sure to include the latest and greatest industry information (i.,e., statistics, studies, research, breakthroughs). The updated publishing date also gives readers more incentive to click!

3. Test Something New in the Post (Text-Wise)

While sometimes unpredictable in what it decides is rank-worthy, Google also does react to very slight tweaks to individual posts.

A subtle change to a post’s meta title, on-page title, or headers could launch a blog post back to the first page or climb the rankings again.

For example, you might try adding your target keyword to your meta title if it’s not already included, or you might change any even numbers in your title to odd ones (our data shows that odd-numbered listicles get more clicks).

Our SERP CTR calculator can help you identify any underperforming meta titles.

4. Add New — and Original — Media

If you’re going to revamp and refresh an old article, consider adding not just new photos, videos, and infographics but also original ones.

Original video content gives users yet another way to discover your brand on Google, aside from just written posts and images. You’re also much more likely to get backlinks if you’re sharing something new and unique.

Video is changing the game, at least in the search engine world. In fact, videos are so important that last year, Google Search Console (GSC) added video indexing!

If you don’t have the budget to shoot your own videos, you can also embed a YouTube video from an industry expert.

5. Reoptimize Your UX

Core Web Vitals is a score that Google uses to assess what we call the “technical user experience” — mainly how long it takes to load.

A few simple fixes worth tackling include:

  • Ensuring all images are properly sized and compressed
  • Compressing or minifying Javascript and image
  • Reoptimizing your pages for mobile
  • Updating your publication dates

(If any of these seem well beyond your pay grade, we have a team of technical SEO experts who can help you to get your site “up to speed.”)

Always Track Your Performance

Car odometer

The only bummer is for those of us that live and die by instant gratification. It could take two or three weeks (likely closer to three) to see whether your updates actually improve your content’s performance.

After three weeks, re-check those pages to see how they’re performing on Google. What you’re looking for here is a trend, not a drastic jump or drop.

If It Goes Up?

Then, this particular page has some volatility. Google will revisit that page and realize, hey, they added more up-to-date information and removed some outdated stuff. From there, Google will either reward you (or not…).

If It Doesn’t Seem to Be Working?

Take note.

Actually, take note of any small tweaks you make and how they impact the page’s performance on Google.

If a page suddenly increases in rankings after a few weeks, try those small changes with other posts. If nothing seems to be working, scout out your competitors to see what they’re doing. What are they doing that you aren’t?

Now that you’re no longer a newbie and have a better understanding of SEO, it’s the perfect time to circle back to old posts and bring them up to speed.

More importantly, though: Update your posts regularly.

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How to Refresh Old Blog Posts for Better Performance