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4 steps to keep the best content fresh

4 steps to keep the best content fresh

When you are content marketing with a focus on creation, the answer to all scenarios is to create new content.

If you’re trying to rank a new keyword, you’re creating a new piece of content targeted to it.

If an old piece of content becomes obsolete, let it die and create a new version.

But this approach keeps you on an endless treadmill with constant content creation.

One step up from this approach is one where you publish less often and focus more on your evergreen content.

But “evergreen” doesn’t always mean growing, so if you just publish evergreen content and forget about it, it’s slowly dying over time.

All types of content need to be nurtured and maintained with regular content updates, often called content updates.

Here’s why this approach is so powerful, and below you will find a step-by-step process for completely updating your own content.

Why content refresh is the key

I often look to the entertainment industry for training in content distribution. Think of content being updated as Billy Joel comes out with yet another remastered version of his biggest hits or a live concert album.

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To ensure that you consistently nurture your evergreen content, it helps to create systems for updating and updating content that has not been touched recently.

This is especially important if it sees declining traffic, rankings or conversions (and certainly if it is all three).

Google’s John Mueller recently addressed issues of old content vs. bad content, and how to deal with both. Refreshments are an option.

So what goes into the system for a content update?

Step 1. Perform a content review

The first step in updating content, whether it is a one-time project or a regular update routine, is to perform a content review. Which metrics you want to look at depends on your own marketing and content strategy goals.

A review tells you what content succeeds or fails in your company’s unique benchmarks.

How to decide which content to update and which updates to have the highest priority.

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Let us e.g. Say you have two blog posts that are a few years old.

One is still steadily increasing traffic. The other person’s conversion rate decreases month by month as the traffic stays the same.

The second post should be a priority.

Do not make the mistake of thinking only about search rankings and traffic in your decision making. This can cause you to end up with content that gets lots of attention and praise but no tangible results for your business.

Here are some suggestions on how to look or get an appointment for marketing.

For the top of funnel / awareness driven blog posts, keep an eye out for declining traffic, search clicks, and rankings. For mid-funnel / care content, look for declining exposures such as landing page click-through rates or call-to-conversion conversion rates. See the bottom of the funnel / conversion content after declining purchases or sign-ups.

Once you have gathered the insights, you can start categorizing and prioritizing your content changes and updates.

I like to focus first on two categories:

“Biggest but not recent hits”, which are your older pieces of content that are still very relevant to both your audience and your business strategy. “Hidden gems” or content that is high quality and tailored to your business strategy but never took off with your audience or got the results you expected.

Prioritizing these categories helps ensure that you do not waste time and energy updating content that is not worth saving.

Instead, you can crop the content or merge it with other pieces.

Step 2. Identify content gap

Once you’ve done a content review to help prioritize what content to update, you’re ready to strategize the updates.

This is primarily about identifying which gaps you need to fill.

Think of both informational and strategic gaps, which means how to make content both more informative and more effective.

On the information page, consider:

Is there anything you need to add or expand on? Is there anything you can remove to tighten focus? How can you improve the formatting and readability? Can you supplement the text with visual media?

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You want to make the content as useful to your reader as possible.

Then think of the strategic side:

Where, of course, can you refer to your product or company? What is the current next step for a consumer of this content? Are you making the next step clear?

Don’t forget to focus on improving your conversion rate to the next step in addition to higher rankings and more traffic.

I can see people forgetting this all too often and they end up with senior content with an outdated call to action (if there is any at all).

Step 3. Remaster the content

Once you have strategized how the old content should be remixed and improved, it’s time to start remastering it for something newer and better.

How long it takes and what it entails again depends largely on what gaps you find.

If the updates are mostly aesthetic – e.g. Improving readability and formatting – it may be easiest to just log in to your CMS and make the updates.

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But if major updates are required – e.g. Writing a new copy – it will probably be easier to use a Word document to edit existing sections and write new ones.

That way, you can stop and start without worrying about ruining the live version. When you have finished developing all the updated content, you can change it in CMS.

There is a lot of debate about changing the dates of blog posts when you update them. Your choice depends on your own content and your business.

In general, I am a fan of including dates for both the original release and last update as it provides the most clarity for the reader.

Something else to keep in mind in this step: When making major updates that require a team, e.g. To design an infographic or produce a video, you want a kind of overall project document that tracks:

What changes are being made. Who is responsible for each. And where it is in the production process.

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All systems you have developed for creating new content can also be used for content updates.

Step 4. Renew the new piece

Finally, once the updated content is live, it’s time to get started.

You should promote a remixed and updated piece of content as heavily as a new content, if not more.

You can display it on your site by:

Pin or push it to the top of your blog archive. Ensures that there are internal links to it from relevant content. Using an advertising banner on your site that promotes it.

Any off-site advertising you would do for other content, including remastered pieces.

For example, some options are:

Sends it to your email list. Sends it to anyone who refers to or quotes. Sharing the link on social media. Sharing excerpts on social media. Running ads for it.

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This also does not have to be all done on the day the content is updated.

Now that the piece is updated and fresh, you can share it often without worrying about silence.

Build a content update habit

Refreshing content is never really finished. This is something that should be done with all your evergreen content on an ongoing basis.

I have five year old blog posts that I update once a year, every year.

Once you see the results by updating content (and with so little energy and power), it becomes addictive.

Which is a good thing, in this case.

Building a habit of refreshing one or two old pieces of content a month is probably one of the highest stakes activities with the lowest rewards you can find.

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