Columnist Sherry Bonelli outlines why improving and optimizing your outdated blog posts may be a better strategy than endlessly pushing out new content.
Have you ever seen one of those hoarder shows? You know the ones where you get invited into a person’s house only to find stacks of old newspapers and wall-to-wall junk piled all over the home? Scary.
But did you know that you may have a similar hoarding problem — with your blog?
How to tell if you’re a content hoarder
When is the last time you went into your blog and looked at all your old or outdated blog posts? If you look and see several years’ worth of content on your blog, it’s probably time for a content audit and clean up — especially if you’re in the digital marketing industry or another industry that changes frequently.
What’s the harm in keeping under-performing blog posts or outdated content alive on your site? These days, high-performing, quality content is more important than ever to your organic rankings. Keeping old or low-quality content can lead to higher bounce rates and/or fewer clicks, and these factors could hurt your site’s overall authority with Google.
Additionally, both Google and users tend to prefer fresh content, especially when it comes to news and blog content. That is likely one of the reasons why Google often shows the date your blog posts were created in the search engine result pages (SERPs.)
If people see that your blog post about Google’s latest algorithm update is four years old, they’ll probably assume the information is outdated. If it appears in their search results, Google knows whether or not someone clicks on your link. If people don’t click, over time Google may assume that the content isn’t good, and your page will most likely drop in rankings.
So, how can you tell if you have content you should get rid of, redirect or revise? First, look at the total number of posts you have on your website. Then check your analytics to see how many of those blog posts have received at least one organic visit in the last 90 days. If a blog post isn’t getting a single visit during that time frame, then that post is probably either an old, outdated post or one that is mediocre in quality and should probably be removed, redirected or rewritten.
Here’s some math to help explain this concept a little differently. Let’s say your site has 1,190 posts but only 291 of them had one organic visit over the last 90 days — that’s an approximate 4:1 “hoarding” ratio. (Ideally, you want a 1:1 ratio.) With that high a ratio, chances are a lot of the content on your site isn’t cutting it and should be reevaluated.
HubSpot calls this hoarding-aversion strategy “historical optimization.” They’ve seen incredible improvement in their conversion rates and organic SEO rankings simply by optimizing their outdated blog posts. And you can do this, too — all without writing brand-new content!
Less is sometimes more
Right now, the web is on content overload. According to WordPress, 79.2 million new posts were published last month alone (and that’s just on WordPress). Over the past few years, numerous businesses have been encouraged to write as many blog posts as they can. That push led to a flood of new content on the internet — with much of that content being inferior in quality. Many people thought only of quantity and not quality. Churn and burn.
Additionally, most of the content being produced never sees the light of day. There is simply way too much content for people to consume, and only a select few can appear on the first page of Google.
Now, don’t get me wrong — you still have to post new content (after all, new content eventually becomes old content). But in many cases, you may be better off improving an existing post than publishing a new one.
And remember, it’s better to post fewer pieces of content and make sure that the content you do write is high-quality and relevant to what your visitors are searching for. Publishing a small number of high-quality blog posts is better than publishing a whole lot of mediocre content.
How to improve old content
If you find you have a lot of old, outdated content that isn’t either converting or isn’t ranking as high as you would like it to, you can either update the content or delete it and do a 301 redirect to a new piece of content that is performing better. Here are some tips:
- Check out your competition. Carefully evaluate the pages that are ranking high for the keywords you’re shooting for. What are they doing right? How many words do they have on the page? What about images? What sites backlink to them? Sometimes just looking at your high-ranking competitors will give you simple and easy-to-implement ideas on how you can improve your content.
- Make sure the blog post structure is sound. Double-check your headers, title tags, descriptions, bulleted lists, images and so on. Make sure that the structure of the content and the SEO strategies used throughout the blog post are solid.
- Update and optimize pages that currently rank in positions #7-#15. Grab the low-hanging fruit. If your page is already ranking high but is falling just short of the top spots or the first page, then you may be able to boost your rankings through content improvements.
- Update images and screenshots. Things on the internet change almost every day, so be sure to update screen shots and images to reflect the current day. And remember those alt tags.
- Look at the comments on your blog posts. Often you can find information that may have been missing from the original blog post by looking at the comments and questions in the old blog’s comments section. If a good question was asked or a point was discussed, add that information when you revise the blog post.
- Once revised, change the date of the blog post. After you’ve revised and updated the content, remember to change the publish date. You can do this in WordPress by clicking on Quick Edit and changing the date there.
- Promote your revised post through social media. Whenever you have a new piece of content or revise an old post, let your social media followers and fans know and encourage them to share and comment. If applicable, be sure to @ mention people or companies that are featured in the blog post when you share on Twitter. (That good deed will often lead to them retweeting your post.)
- Email your list. Let the people on your email list know about this newly updated content. Be sure to emphasize the new content in the post and the benefits people will get from reading your post.
- Contact commenters. Reach out and contact people who left comments on your old post. Send them an email thanking them for visiting your blog and alerting them that the post has been updated with new information you thought they’d be interested in.
- Reach out to influencers. There are several tools that help you identify industry influencers. Let the influencers of the world know about your post in the hope that you can get some exposure with your newly honed and refined content.
Finally, create a content strategy for your blog moving forward. Thoroughly review your content plan for the next month or two. Is it the right content? Are you trying to publish too much? Who are you competing against? If you evaluate these things up front, you can write better content to start with.
Good luck with your housecleaning!
Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.