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A complete guide to updating content for maximum SEO value

A complete guide to updating content for maximum SEO value

The process of creating content never stops.

Whether you just published a piece of content that immediately jumped to page one in the SERPs, or you have aging content on your domain that has been unvisited for years, there is always room to review and make changes.

In this article, you will learn about this revision process and why it is important for each domain.

In addition, we provide you with a checklist that makes your content revisions faster and more consistent.

Why you should revise your content

Different content requires revisions for different reasons. Here are a few of the most common ones I have come across.

1. Your competitors have not stopped working on their content

Search is not a single player game. Even after you put down the pen and publish your content, your competitors are still working.

Whether I’re creating new content or revising old content, I’m always looking at what’s doing well in the SERPs right now. Almost every time there is something a competitor’s content does to provide more value to users.


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If your competitors are smart, this is exactly what they do with your content when it works well.

To stay ahead of the competition, you must always innovate and find new ways to improve your content. The secrets of creating great content are open for all to see, so today’s selected excerpts are tomorrow’s page-three relics.

2. Changes in search behavior

Writing content that ranks well is about responding to the intent of the applicant. You find out what applicants want when they enter their query and give them exactly that.

The thing is, search behavior changes over time.

Picture someone looking for [coronavirus] at three different times.

Before 2019, this person is likely to be a student or a person with an academic interest in the technical properties of virology. An article that serves this reader should keep that in mind and provide them with the technical information needed to understand this piece of jargon from this field.


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During the COVID-19 pandemic, search volume declined [coronavirus] has increased dramatically and the audience has also changed.

This audience is made up of lay people. Their intent is better served by content that provides a basic education in the nature of the virus and provides action-oriented advice on how to avoid catching or spreading the disease.

In addition to the pandemic, good content for [coronavirus] can mix the two target groups from above.

It can provide some practical advice to anyone who thinks they may be infected, but can also provide information on the historical response to the pandemic.

This is a particularly dramatic example, but the point is everywhere – the intent of the seeker changes over time as language and our experience with different concepts change.

Your content that responded perfectly to the applicant’s intent three years ago may not be earning as much today.

3. Your information is not up to date

One of the best things you can do to make your content authoritative is to include relevant facts and statistics from expert sources.

The thing is, that information may change. Either the underlying facts may change (for example, there are more pandas in the wild today than there were in 2016) or more recent, more accurate research has become available.

Whatever the reason, if your competitors are citing recent research and you are stuck on the old numbers, then your content is automatically obsolete.

How to select pages for revision

Over time, it is ideal to go over every piece of content on your domain to look for opportunities for revision. However, some sides should be given priority over others.

When looking for pages that need updating, pay particular attention to:

Pages that previously ranked well but have fallen off.

If you have a page that used to draw a lot of traffic but has dropped several ways in the SERPs, it’s a huge clue that it’s ready for revision.

It’s very likely that your page will be knocked out by recent content from your competitors who have taken everything you did right with that page and added it.


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Pages you had high hopes for, but they never performed.

Whenever you find that content with a solid strategy and good execution does not rank, you should ask yourself why.

This kind of content is a good candidate for revision because you can find out what went wrong (or what is not fully optimized), correct it, and develop your understanding of best practices.

Your pages that perform best.

That’s right, even your pages that are on page one could use some revision.

It is best to refresh these pages before their rankings begin to decline. By anticipating challenges and updating your content to match, you can stay on page one instead of riding the slides on the rankings.

5 things to do when updating your old content

It’s time to revise your content. This process does not have to involve the eye in your content to see what can be changed or create a whole new page from scratch.

Here are five things you can scan to make the most of your content:


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1. Facts

Earlier, we talked about how important it is to include updated facts and figures to keep your content fresh. This is one of the easiest things to check and update in your old content.

Browse your content for quotes and take these important steps:

Make sure the original source is still active.

When we add outbound links to our content, we should be aware that other domains do not work with our permission. They sometimes download content, change URLs, or change information without asking.

The first thing to do when checking a link in older content is to make sure your external links are still doing what you want them to do.

Look for recent information on the same topic.

A quick search on your topic should be able to tell you if more recent data is available. If anything, replace these facts and figures β€” and the sources you link to β€” in your copy to reflect the most up-to-date research.


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You can also review competitor content to see if they pull data that is fresher than yours.

Check all the information about “common sense” in your article.

Even ordinary knowledge can change.

Language like “the current president of the United States, Donald Trump”, can instantly date your content, even if it was familiar at the time of writing.

2. Function

Ask yourself: how can I change this content to better match the applicant’s intent?

This does not only apply to topics where the applicant’s intent has changed over time. We do not always get things right on our first pass, and revising old content gives us a chance to do better.

Here are a few tips when it comes to making sure your content meets the searcher’s intentions as well as possible.

First, put yourself in the seeker’s shoes.

When we write content, we often write as experts. We do not come to these topics as seekers who often search because they do not know as much as they would like.


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When revising your content, make sure it is as direct and readable as possible. It should answer seeking questions quickly and without hassle.

Second, ask yourself: Is there a widget I can add to make things easier for the user?

Here is a commonly used term: [compound interest formula].

The applicant’s intention here is obvious – in almost all cases, the applicant wants to calculate interest.

A good page here can give them the formula, but a great page can also include a calculator that lets them type in their numbers and spit out compound interest.

This kind of user interaction that goes beyond just text on a page can make the difference between content that is only acceptable and content that is truly excellent.

3. Keywords

If you did not do keyword research when you first wrote this content, now is the time.

Once you have an idea of ​​the keywords that you would like your content to rank for, you can evaluate your page’s title, title tags, and subheadings. These elements should reflect the search language, either by using exact matches, near matches, or by answering a question asked by the searcher.


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Although metal elements can sometimes twist and fail to address keywords, the body of an article often does the opposite.

It is tempting, especially for writers who are just learning the ropes in SEO, to repeat a given keyword over and over again. If this is the case for your content, now is the time to rewrite old language.

Write as you would speak – let your keyword usage come naturally instead of trying to force it and be perceived as spam.

4. Links and anchor text

There are two things to check when it comes to links and anchor text in older content.

The first is to make sure you follow best practices when it comes to linking internally.

Make sure your links come naturally in the text of your article, and the anchor text you use provides reliable clues about the page on the other side of that link.

The second is to find opportunities to link to new content that did not exist when you first published this article.


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Finding these opportunities to retroactively add links to newer content is incredibly important when it comes to supporting your new content.

In some cases, it’s okay to add these links while reviewing and revising old content.

In other cases – e.g. Launching a Critical New Product Page – It’s worthwhile to go explicitly through some of your old content for the purpose of adding relevant internal links to your new page.

Old pages have had much more time to accumulate backlinks. By adding internal links to new pages during revisions, you can ensure that your newer content gets a fair share of the ranking authority that your older content has earned.

5. Mobile compatibility

Mobile-first indexing is probably one of the biggest changes that has come to search in recent years. It’s also a relatively new part of Google’s search algorithm since it was enabled for all sites in September 2020.

If pages on your domain are not optimized to provide the same mobile experience as they do for desktop users, now is the time for a domain-level revision process to bring your site up to date.


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Even if you’ve already made domain-level changes to enhance your mobile site experience, some of your old content may not appear on your mobile as well as in a desktop browser.

When revising a piece of content, this is the perfect time to double-check the page experience on your mobile.

Revision of content vs. to write new content

For content that is particularly old or does not rank well at all, there is a question lurking in your revision process: When should I scrap this piece of content and start over?

In my opinion, you should never create brand new content to rank for a keyword phrase that some existing content is already targeting. However, this does not mean that you should keep all or some of the existing content on your page.

My recommendation is to revise as much as you need.

If you need to rewrite each sentence, restructure your subheadings completely and completely rebuild your internal connection network from scratch, then do it.


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However, keep all these changes under the same URL. Keep in mind that this URL has had time to accumulate ranking authority and backlinks. You can keep these things while throwing away anything that is not for snuff.

If you want to keep the old content, move it to a new URL in your domain.

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