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How to update old content for SEO improvements

21st May 2024

As your website grows and evolves over time with loads of new content it can be easy to neglect some of your past blogs and content pieces, in favour of new shiny ones; this is a big mistake for SEO. Often, older blogs and content can be a gold mine, (or rather ‘linkmine’), when it comes to driving organic search results over time.

Here we look at refreshing old content and how you can do it to drive more organic links over time through off-page SEO, which will help all of your SEO efforts.

Step 1: Identify old content that could be improved

To find the potential content that you want to drive backlinks to, take a look at your blog content through a tool like SEMRush, (other search engine optimisation tools available), to find ones that have a bit of website traffic and are getting some traction when it comes to backlinks. It could be that there are good candidates there that with a bit of TLC can be pushed higher up the rankings.

Depending on the site set-up, you can look via sub-folder or root domain to find the blogs:

The snapshot above shows some of the top performing pages for our own blog content at Varn, ordered by referring domains:

A deeper dive reveals where the opportunity lies. The blogs above have got a handful of backlinks, and we can examine some of the key terms that they rank for and the links they are getting. If we look at the following URL we can work through a case study:

https://varn.co.uk/05/05/why-search-keyword-intent-modelling-is-important

We can see from SEMRush that this URL ranks in the top 100 for terms like “keyword intent” “what is search intent” and “search intent” terms, that get 110, 70 and 390 monthly UK searches respectively.

We can also see that this blog has 4 backlinks, 1 of which is an important one:

https://seobase.com/what-is-semantic-search

This matches the key checklist for an ideal content improvement candidate:

If the answer to the above is yes, then we have a candidate for improvement and we can begin the optimisation process.

Step 2: Optimise old content to bring it up to date

Once you have your content outlined the next step is to start the updating process, this will stem from the keyword research conducted prior to the optimisation process, in the case of the search intent modelling blog, we outlined the following key terms to go after:

  • What is search intent?
  • What are the different kinds of search intent?
  • Search intent
  • How to optimise for search intent
  • Why is search intent important

With that confirmed, we went on our optimisation journey.

How to update old content

1. Update the body content 

  • Refresh Text: Add new information, statistics, and recent studies to make your post current.
  • Improve Readability: Break large paragraphs into smaller ones, use bullet points, and include subheadings to make the content easier to read.
  • Optimise for Keywords: Naturally incorporate your new keywords into the text, especially in headings, subheadings, and the first 200 words of your post.

2. Optimize meta tags

  • Title tag: Ensure your main keyword is in the title tag, and keep it between 155-160
  • Meta description: Update the meta description to include keywords and make it enticing. Keep it between 150-160 characters.

3. Update images and multimedia

  • Add or replace images: Use high-quality, relevant images and include keywords in the file names and alt text.
  • Include videos: If relevant, add videos to engage users and increase the time they spend on your site.

4. Improve internal linking

  • Add New Links: Link to newer, relevant content within your site to keep users engaged and distribute page authority throughout your site.
  • Update Broken Links: Check for and fix any broken links in the post.

5. Update the publish date

  • Reflect the Update: Once the post is updated, change the publish date to the current date to signal to search engines and readers that the content is fresh.

Step 3: Find examples of content that ranks and check out their backlinks

The next step is to look for who the big players are when it comes to the content you are looking to get ranking, in our case we looked at the backlinks of this backlinks of article amongst other high ranking pages:

https://backlinko.com/hub/seo/search-intent

From this you can develop an outreach list of people who have written about similar content in the past and who may well be grateful for an updated version of what they want to cover, the following template can be used to reach out to these websites and let them know that you have you updated your content, and that you think it’s a bit better than the one they have referenced already.

Step 4: Benchmark the results and measure performance

Once you have the content written and updated, resubmitted to Google Search Console and outreach underway to let interested websites know that there is some new content out there worth revisiting, benchmark the following KPIs so that you know where you were and can set some targets on where you want to go.

  • Number of backlinks
  • Keyword rankings
  • Impressions clicks and CTR for the optimised content
  • Wider rankings for core landing pages

Examples of our results:

The above process can be really rewarding, as getting the most out of your content means working smarter and not harder. Optimising past content can bring some great results. Here is an example from our client HSE Network.

How we updated old content for HSE Network

Our client HSE Network wants to rank well for safety software based terms so they can drive relevant traffic for would-be advertisers, driver safety software is one of these pillars.

They had a great article with a mix of written and video content from 2021 that was performing, but not spectacularly. For 2024, we worked with them to update the content and just two weeks on from the update, we have seen an increase in the core rankings. They went from the bottom of page one to top for the term ‘driver safety software benefits’.

How we updated our old content for SEO at Varn

Last month we optimised our core search intent modelling page.

We built it out with a link to a useful video, more general content around search intent and also brought it up to speed with recommendations on the use of AI in search. It’s early days, but since the optimisation we have seen a nice uptick in impressions which will turn into more clicks over time.

This method can help you drive more coverage and links over time

Whilst this is not driving new links or improving the optimisation of the high-value commercial pages within your site, it will help you drive deeper links which can support the SEO of the whole site. If you want to drive even more SEO equity to the higher value pages, place (where relevant) internal links to these within the content that you have updated.

If you would like any help with updating old and past content on your website, then do not hesitate to get in touch with our expert team at Varn who would be more than happy to help.

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About Varn

Varn is an expert & specialist SEO search marketing agency. Technical SEO * AI & Data Analytics * Offsite SEO * Paid Search

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