It’s not easy keeping a blog editorial calendar packed with new content, especially if you’re part of a small content team or running the show solo. You can take advantage of guest content and user-generated content to help fill out your blog or tap outside resources like the experts at WriterGirl.
But creating new content isn’t the only way to fill that editorial calendar. There could be untapped potential right there in your older, already published content that can not only supplement your content plan but also provide added SEO benefit.
You may be a pro at using your existing content library but don’t forget about those blog posts from a few months (or even years) back. Chances are, you have some great content that needs a little sprucing up.
Take this insight from HubSpot, for example. They found that their old blog posts drove more traffic than some of their newer content. In fact, more than 92% of their blog leads came from old material, and 76% of views focused on old posts.
Refreshing old blog content is an easy way to keep your blog relevant to readers and optimized for SEO. A three- or four-year old post can still be interesting and useful if you take some time to update the content. Here are a few tips on how to update old blog posts:
Enforce data-driven decision-making
Before diving headfirst into updating every blog you’ve ever posted, take a cue from content strategists and make data-driven, informed decisions. Tools like Semrush and Google Analytics can help you understand each blog’s current performance and determine which are worth updating and which are best to archive and start fresh. Older blogs that still see high traffic could get an extra boost in performance with some simple updates.
Correct outdated information
Is the information outdated? If you still see traffic on your older posts, verify that the information is up to date. Read through the post and check that all the facts and figures are still current and accurate. Perhaps there’s a more recent statistic you could use or a new study you can link to. Updating information makes your blog more relevant and useful to the reader.
Some tips to consider as you update statistics:
- Try to reference studies that are from the last two years if possible. If your older post references a statistic, see if that study has been published again and reference the new data. And be sure to check if the new study changes the point you were making or shares new information that needs addressed.
- Always cite the original source. If you’re using a statistic someone else used in a blog post, do the legwork to find the original source and link to it. Your readers will thank you!
Add a fresh quote to the post
Look for opportunities to add a fresh point of view to the article. Tap your organization’s subject matter experts (SMEs) for opinions or new research that could add value to the post. Quotes provide a more engaging read. You can also format particularly valuable quotes as call-outs to help break up the content.
Optimize blog content for SEO
How is the blog’s content performing against your targeted keywords? Look for opportunities to re-frame the article to map well against the search terms you are trying to rank for, which may have shifted since your originally posted the article. Keep in mind your data-driven decision-making skills and tools while you research!
You may have written some of your older blogs before you developed an SEO strategy. Or maybe they have outdated SEO best practices and don’t map to Google’s latest ranking requirements. Regardless, be sure to evaluate key SEO elements before re-publishing, such as:
Blog headline vs. your SEO headline
Is your blog headline (usually your H1) catchy and attention-grabbing? Does your SEO headline map to your focus or primary keyword? You’ll also want to make sure that these two headlines are different.
Title tags [H1, H2, H3]
Title tags allow search engines and readers to glance through your blog to see if it has content relevant to the search term or query. Labeling your headlines as H1, H2 or H3 in your content management system (CMS) lets search engines crawl your content easily. Including relevant keywords in these subheads can also help with search ranking.
Headers also play a role in web accessibility. These labels give screen readers a logical flow when interpreting the content, helping the user better understand your article.
Keywords within the text
As with headlines, adding keywords within your text gives the all-seeing eye of search engines an idea of what your blog is about. Make sure your main, targeted keyword is somewhere at the beginning of your blog. Don’t overdo it, though. You don’t want your blog to get penalized by Google for keyword stuffing. This could hurt your rank more than it can help. Use keywords naturally, but strategically.
Alt text for images
Not only is alt text necessary for accessibility but adding keywords to your descriptions gives your blog an edge with SEO. There’s no need to force your primary keyword into every image alt text if it doesn’t fit, but bonus points if it does! You may also consider using related keywords in alt text where appropriate.
A while back, it was okay to write posts that were 300-500 words. Now, according to Semrush, blog posts should ideally be between 1,500 to 2,500 words long.
That doesn’t mean your longer or shorter blogs won’t perform well if they are providing users value. The main factor for post length should always be based on search intent and what would best serve the audience’s needs. Google’s algorithm looks at content quality, authority and relevance to the search term or search phrase. So, if you’ve thoroughly answered the user’s question in 500 words, don’t force more length. But if don’t be scared to write a longer form blog post if that’s what’s required to deliver a thoughtful answer on the question at hand. As the old saying goes, it’s better to focus quality over quantity!
A good rule of thumb is to search your primary keyword and see where the top-ranked posts land in terms of length. If the average word count for those posts is around 1,500 words, try to aim for an article in the same range.
One caveat to consider: Longer blog posts often perform better. Sharing, backlinks and added traffic contribute to a better search ranking. But again — avoid the extra word count if you don’t need it!
Your meta description is one of the first things your reader sees in search engine results page (SERP) results and can make or break whether they want to read your blog or not. An engaging description with a call-to-action will hook your readers right from the get-go.
Search engines also look at your meta description, so make sure you include your targeted keyword and related keywords.
Internal and external links
Do you have obsolete or broken links in your post? Update them or remove them. While you’re at it, think about adding a few more links or calls to action that direct readers to new or relevant content.
When writing a blog, you want to provide your reader with the best, informative experience possible. Make sure you’re linking to other blogs or pages on your website that relate to the topic. Not only does this make it easier for your reader to find your other content, but it also keeps them engaged on your site.
Internal links in your blog also help with SEO — they allow Google to discover new content on your site and help with PageRank.
Make sure you’re also adding a valuable external links. From an SEO standpoint, this shows search engines that your pages are relevant and authoritative.
Add new media to the article
Scan your post for pictures and graphics. If you don’t have any media, add it! Look for related videos that can support the story — adding videos to a blog post or web page can boost user engagement, especially with video’s increasing importance in digital strategy today.
If you don’t have video content, try finding new photos or images to give the post a fresh look. Or, create some custom graphics that support your main points using a tool like Canva.
You may also want to consider resizing or realigning some of the images so they load faster and display better across platforms (mobile, desktop, etc.).
Reassess the formatting and brand voice
Have you recently redesigned your blog? Some of the old headers, fonts, bullet lists and tables may look different with your new layout. Check to make sure your popular posts are still readable. When thinking about how to update old blog posts, see if you’ve updated your style guide recently. Doing a once-over with your brand voice and tone in mind helps you stay consistent across all of your content.
Refreshing a blog gives you a chance to correct any typos and improve readability wherever possible. As you review the post, take any opportunity to make needed corrections, write shorter sentences, break up long paragraphs, use plain language and enforce active voice.
Update the blog post’s publication date
Once you’ve made your changes, be sure to update the article’s timestamp. This can help boost the article’s ranking on Google, as the search engine sees it as fresh content. We also recommend adding an editor’s note in the post mentioning you’ve updated it from the original version.
Share your updated blog
Now that you’ve refreshed some old blog posts, what’s next? Share it! Don’t be afraid to re-share old content on social media, in email newsletters, your RSS feed and other platforms. If it’s informative and relevant, your audience will still be interested and happy for the reminder. Plus, you’ve likely added many new followers and subscribers since the last time you shared this post, so for many it will be the first time they’ve seen it.
Make sure you’re also taking note of what continues to drive traffic. Look at the topics in those old, successful blog posts and track trends. Use this information to inspire new blog posts and inform your current content strategy.
Choosing which content to update will depend on your organization’s content marketing strategy. If you’re trying to fill content gaps for your main SEO keywords, try updating existing content that could easily map to those keywords.
You can also look at some of your most popular blog posts and find related content that doesn’t see as much engagement. Updating those low-engagement posts with new media, a fresh quote or more recent facts could increase readership.
Let WriterGirl help keep your blog content fresh
Need more tips on how to update old blog posts? WriterGirl is here to help you with all of your content needs. Feel free to contact us anytime.
Editor’s note: This blog post was updated on November 22, 2023. It was originally published in February 2019.