In this article, we’ll talk about updating blog content and how you should do it. We’ll also explore several scenarios that cover the why, when, and what.
TL;DR – You should update your blog content with a strategy that contains different methods and tactics depending on why you are updating the content, and the total amount of content you have on your website.
Why Update Blog Content?
Blog content, sometimes called “blog posts” or simply “articles,” requires updating every so often for several reasons. Let’s split them into two groups.
1. For Users
Any website that will be successful long-term needs to think about providing value. One of the most important ways to provide value is to commit to improving your existing content.
- New information has become available, making your evergreen article not-so-evergreen.
- Available products have changed, or the best solution has changed.
- You realize that you could have presented the information more effectively or efficiently.
It is also worth noting that improving content for visitors can affect your search engine rankings and help acquire more backlinks from other websites.
2. For Search Engines
While it is important to provide a more valuable source of information for your visitors, there are also some important ones for Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
- Freshness – Google prefers maintained content, so if you have articles that haven’t been updated in over a year, that makes them vulnerable to content decay.
- Non-performers – While it is known that content can take 6-9 months to mature, there are still times before this when you know that the rankings are underperforming.
- Low-hanging fruit – Most sites have dozens of articles in good positions for their main keyword on Google but still receive almost no traffic because they’re not in good enough positions. Improving them is a no-brainer.
There is an important debate about whether sitewide optimization for content quality can drastically reduce your results with SEO. I’m a big believer that too much low-quality content can harm our progress, so there are many reasons to edit and improve content for SEO purposes.
So, How Should You Update Blog Content?
Let’s take some of the above scenarios and share some ideas and step-by-step actions to take.
New Information Has Become Available
When it has come to your attention that new information has become available on a subject or topic, it’s time to update.
- Create a new content outline
- Remove outdated sections (you can still address these somewhere in the content)
- Add new sections to the content
- Sometimes splitting larger articles into smaller, more focused ones.
Available Solutions or Products Have Changed
This is particularly important for how-to guides, roundup reviews, and some other list-style content.
You should take care to provide the same level of detail when adding new products and removing old ones. In contrast, how-to guides with new solutions should be added in as an additional option.
Presenting Information More Efficiently or Effectively
In Google Analytics, you can look at average engagement time to help identify content that might not resonate with readers. If you know the information is good, the issue can be how it is presented. Tools like HotJar help you with heatmaps to see where visitors are looking and where you might be losing them. However, when users leave your content quickly, it’s not always bad if they got what they were looking for. So always trust your instincts about whether the content is good.
- Do the headings need re-ordering?
- Would the content benefit from more images or other media, such as videos?
- Could you add tables, bullet points, or other elements to present the information differently?
- Do your paragraphs have too many sentences?
- Do your heading sections have too many paragraphs?
You should always remember that value can be increased when something is better presented!
Your Article Hasn’t Been Updated In Over a Year
So, now we’re talking about freshness. How recently was the article modified? While it’s important to remember that it’s easy for Google to see whether something was updated substantially, it doesn’t mean that’s always required. So make updates to old content based on how much it needs updating and what you think it needs.
The content is ranking well –
- Go through the article and improve spelling, punctuation, and grammar.
- Remove unnecessary phrases, words, and sentences.
- Consider whether there are any other ways the information could be presented better.
- Add missing topics & entities to make the content more comprehensive and trustworthy.
The content isn’t ranking –
- Does your content add new information or a unique perspective?
- Have you over-optimized any of the important terms?
- Do you use enough media on the page, such as images?
- Is the page title too ambiguous?
- Does the introduction seem relevant to the page title?
- Does the page have enough supporting content and internal links?
- Are you missing any important topics or entities in the content?
When you have large websites with lots of content, you can take a progressive approach to modifying content by selecting one of the above or specific on-page optimizations designed around the above ideas to see how it responds on Google.
While the above section covers non-performers, let’s take a look at how you can actually identify them.
- Head to Google Search Console
- Open up the related property
- Click on ‘Performance’
- Date: Last 3 Months
- Click on ‘New’
- Select ‘Country’ > ‘United States’
- Click on ‘New’
- Select ‘Device’ > ‘Mobile’ (If most of your users are on mobile)
Now scroll down and switch to the ‘Pages’ tab, deselect ‘Total clicks’ and click on ‘Average position.’
This can help you find low-performers with high potential (extra checks should be performed on the page’s keywords.)
You can also filter the results in the table to make things a bit easier.
There are many ways to find low-performing or ‘non-performing’ pieces of blog content. Still, with so many articles often falling into this category, the above method gives you the means to prioritize.
You can find low-hanging fruit articles in Google Search Console following the same general steps as the above, or you can find them in Ahrefs, SEMRush, or similar tools.
The important thing is to find pages where the main keyword/s are between positions 11-20 and sometimes 4-10, as small edits on these can bring big changes to your traffic.
Since these articles are already somewhat performing, we should still take a progressive approach where we make small changes that are tested as close as possible to isolation.
Check out some of these 80/20 optimization ideas you can perform on low-hanging fruit based on my findings for outcomes and impact.
|Optimization/Edit||Possible Outcome||Impact Likelihood|
|Improve spelling, grammar, etc||Overall improvement||Low|
|Re-ordering headings||Overall improvement||Low-medium|
|Add missing terms from GSC||Increased visibility||Medium-high|
|Add images||Improve existing rankings||Low-medium|
|Add video||Overall improvement||Low-medium|
|Add table of contents||Increased visibility||Medium|
|Add tables, lists, etc||Overall improvement||Low|
|Remove unnecessary phrases and words||Overall improvement||Low|
|Add new unique information||Overall improvement||Low-medium|
|Check for over-optimization||Improve existing rankings||High|
|Optimize page title||Improve existing rankings||High|
|Optimize introduction||Improve existing rankings||Medium-high|
|Add internal links||Overall improvement||Medium|
|Add more supporting content||Overall improvement||Medium|
|Add missing topics or entities||Overall improvement||Medium|
|Add FAQs||Increased visibility||Low-medium|
Frequently Asked Questions
Should you change the publish date to when you make the change?
No, because that’s not accurate. Google can see the last-modified date in the source code and in the server response status. However, displaying the last modified date instead of the published date on the front end can help get that date to show in the Search Engine Ranking Pages (SERPs)
Should you change only the content and keep the headings as is?
Most of your editing will be going on inside the content itself. However, it can be useful to change the order of headings, what headings you use, and how many times you mention keywords in the headings.
Should we force a crawl update on GSC?
Yes – if you are testing your changes with low-hanging fruit, non-performers, and similar. This allows you to monitor changes quicker, minimizing possible interference from factors you can’t control, like other people’s sites and Google updates.
Updating old articles or “blog content” can become fun and illuminating. All you need is a system and strategy that works for different scenarios that you’re likely to encounter.
If you’re a large website, making smaller changes based on potential impact makes a lot of sense to cover more pages quicker. On smaller sites, you should group many optimizations to try to grow the site faster.
One of the most important things that you should do, no matter what situation you’re in, is track when you published, last edited, what you did, and so on.