Thursday, June 15, 2017

How (and Why) to Refresh Old Content

Content is the most important part of a digital marketing campaign. This simple truth has guided online marketing for years, yet the digital marketing community's recent emphasis on content marketing highlights another simple truth: to compete, a brand must match the content-production of its competitors, word-by-word, post-by-post.

As Simon Penson of Moz noted in a review of  a recent content marketing survey: "No content plan is complete unless it's based around delivering content consistently."

Penson's implication, of course, is that the production of fresh, relevant content, preferably as often as possible, is at the core of any content marketing campaign.

However, fresh content is not the only way to compete.

As Erin Everhart of Search Engine Land noted in 2015: "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 page authority. Even then, refreshed content can work as well as new content, and is often a viable way to attract new visitors to your site.

Page Authority: The Key to Optimizing Old Content 

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

If you have an older page that has generated traffic, ranks well on Google, and inspires external links, you have good page authority. But over time even authoritative pages may suffer from a decrease in the 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As Everhart notes: "That old content is probably still ranking well, but it’s outdated--technology has changed, new information has been presented, or there’s a better way to accomplish the same task."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.

For most websites, the majority of traffic only comes from a few pages, like home pages, landing pages, or pages with well-optimized keywords. Even as you write new content, it makes sense, of course, to make sure your most authoritative pages continue to perform well.

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

Optimize for New Keywords 

Over time, browser's habits change or evolve. Your old posts might still contain relevant information, but people are searching for that information in news ways--with new keywords.

If you discover new keywords, 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, make sure you place them in the appropriate context. A new keyword only works if it makes sense.

Another way to optimize old 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, preferably using "long tail keywords," which more precisely answer today's more complicated search queries.

Be a Part of the Current Conversation

In the SEO community, relevance can mean many things. Google's definition refers specifically to keywords. In its page warning about "little or no original content," Google advises "relevant keywords":

"One of the most important steps in improving your site's ranking in Google search results is to ensure that it contains plenty of rich information that includes relevant keywords, used appropriately, that indicate the subject matter of your content."

Yet relevance is not simply about keywords. When refreshing old content, especially, you want to make sure your content is still 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.

Although a certain topic or trend was popular a few years ago, for example, a website may have no use for content that advocates outdated tastes, opinions, or ideas.

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.

Promote on Social Media 

A great deal of old content has never been optimized for social media. No matter the age of your pages, or authority, you should 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 platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, even Reddit.

Stepman's SEO: Content Marketing 

If you're looking for an SEO company that understands how to effectively promote websites with new and refreshed content, we suggest contacting our sponsor, Stepman's SEO: 215-900-9398.

Stepman's SEO combines traditional marketing methods and organic SEO--with an emphasis on natural website optimization--to design thoughtful, inspiring, and effective content marketing campaigns.