Wednesday, December 9, 2015

How to Refresh Old Content

In our post defining "good content" last week, we noted that often good content is not enough--"to truly compete, you must match the content-production of your competitors, article for article, word-by-word." Equal to good content, then, is fresh content--timely, relevant information that satisfies the needs of your core audience.

However, fresh content is not the only way to compete in the SEO world. As Erin Everhart of Search Engine Land noted earlier this year: "New content is necessary, but it takes far more time to create something new than it does to update and optimize something old."

Refreshing old content is partly about taking advantage of your established "authority (see below)," yet refreshed content can work as well as "fresh content," and is often a viable way to attract new visitors to your site.

Before we offer a few tips for refreshing your old content, let's talk about authority.

Well-established websites with good "domain authority" often enjoy many pages with good "page authority." Both types of  authority are recognized by the SEO community as Google ranking factors. Google likely defines authority in different ways, yet the SEO community recognizes age as a key part of authority.

Simply put, if you have an older page that has generated good traffic, ranks well on Google, and has inspired external links, you have good page authority. Even then, even the most authoritative pages can suffer from a decrease in the very factors that had once inspired good rankings.

As Everhart notes: "That old content is probably still ranking well, but it’s outdated — technology has changed, new information has been presented, or there’s a better way to accomplish the same task."

The key, then, is to find pages that are already ranking well, or had once ranked well, and refresh the content in a way that increase the page's current relevance.

New content can be fresh or re-freshed content. [Photo Source]

1. Optimize for New Keywords or Phrases

Over time, browser's habits change or evolve; your post might still contain relevant information, but people are searching for that information in news ways.

If you can discover new keywords or phrases, which may already be driving some traffic to your site, you can easily optimize your content for a new audience--and drive even more traffic.

If you do add new keywords or phrases (also called "long tail keywords"), make sure you place them in the appropriate context. A new keyword only works if it makes sense.

Another way to optimize older keywords is to think about Google's new semantic search, which became a major factor with the Hummingbird algorithm, in 2013. If your content is older than this algorithm, think about how you can fulfill the mandate of semantic search--to pay more attention to each word in a specific query; to try to discover the intent of each search.

Think about your audience's needs or specific questions. Does your content answer those questions? If not, refresh to provide specific answers.

2. Be a Part of the Conversation

Is your old content relevant in terms of the current cultural conversation? Part of the job of refreshing is re-contextualizing old content in terms of your browser's current interests.

Perhaps you have some old content that, with a few tweaks, could participate in the current conversation. Perhaps your old content could benefit from new information or new links. If warranted, create links from your older content to your new content. And, of course, create links to external pages with good authority.

3. Re-Promote 

A great deal of old content was never optimized for social media. No matter the age of your pages, you want to make sure that each page is easily shared and easily discovered.

When you refresh your old content, make sure each page is optimized with buttons for social media sharing. And after your refresh, of course, share your own content on social media.

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