Once website content is written, we as bloggers, writers, site-owners often forget about it and move on. We tend to focus on writing new content and for a lot of us, updating our old website content isn’t something we even think about.
While new content means search engines have more to index, more of your website links to display on their SERPs (search engine result page), more backlinks to be had, more social media sharing, one could assume and come to the conclusion that it would ultimately lead to more website traffic. While this is likely to be the case, it doesn’t mean that existing content on your website can’t also provide new traffic and/or even more traffic than new content that you publish.
This is not to say that you should not write new content and create more pages for search engines to index. You should. It just means things evolve, things change. Content that you wrote three years ago might not be the same as if you were to write it today. There are many reasons which we will get into on why or how you can change your existing website content.
Reasons why you might want to modify your existing content.
Content can get old and stale:
This doesn’t mean the content is obsolete per say. An example of this, is let’s say that two years ago you wrote an article on how to get more Instagram followers. In two years did you learn any new ways to get followers? Are some of the ways you listed two years ago not applicable now? Are there new tools that didn’t previously exist? If you wrote an article about the top ten taco places in Chicago three years ago, would that list still be accurate? Are those places still even open?
Search Engines like new content
The main job of a search engine is to list relative content using your search term. Newer content is often more helpful and relative than older content. Not always, but take our Instagram article above. Would you rather read an article from 2017 on how to get Instagram followers or one today? Today, right? After a few years, surely there have been some new tools, new developments and strategies. Google knows this and even displays it on their SERP for the users to see. Not to mention they even have a filtering tool (that I use often) to get the latest articles.
Most social media promotion for a blog post is on the first day or two. That is because that is when you are promoting it. Also because like I mentioned above, people like new shiny things. If my Instagram article is posted today, surely it has the latest tips, and people like to share the latest of anything. The newer the article, the more likely people will also add it as a link on their websites, which improve your backlinks. When you update an existing article and the date shows new, or like in our case it shows “last updated” it’s like writing a whole new article and feel free to promote it like you would a brand new one if it makes sense to. It doesn’t always make sense though. It depends how new the topic is, how many changes you made to the page.
Internal and external links
Internal links are a great way to help users navigate to other places on your website which helps users engage and get to know your site. The longer you have your website, the more articles and pages you are most likely going to write and that could make for a lot more internal linking opportunities than you had before. If I wrote a Twitter article three years ago and write three more articles related to Twitter since then, I may want to include some internal links to the new articles.
Maybe some of your external links are from old websites links that no-longer exist or content that has not been updated and is no longer current. Maybe you want to help out some friends and people who are also linking to your website. I like to use external links on my articles that help my reader, and recently I updated an external link that was to a WordPress plugin because I found one that I liked better.
I recently wrote an article about readability and how and why to make your web content more readable. This could mean reformatting your article, using different headers. It might mean changing or adding more pictures.
It’s never too late to adjust content for SEO. Page titles are one of the most important things for on-page SEO. Can the title be improved? The headers? Have keywords changed? Maybe you didn’t even think about SEO when you first wrote it? Search engine algorithms also change. For instance back in the day you could write a 500 page article and be fine. Now more emphasis is given to longer content. If you aren’t receiving good SEO results, there might be adjustments that can be made. Google is more than happy to re-evaluate your content if it has changed. To help this along, it’s a good idea to have a self-generating sitemap submitted to Google’s webmaster tools. Don’t forget Bing. Most SEO plugins will create a sitemap everytime your content is published or changed. We use Yoast on this site.
Categories and tags
If the article is older, maybe your categories have changed. Is it in the proper category now? Maybe there are tags that can be added. Keep in mind, that if you make a change that affects the URL of the page, make sure you create a 301 redirect.
Does the content suck?
I’m a much better writer than I was a few years ago. I know a lot more as well. If you have been writing for a long time, hopefully you, yourself have become a better writer. Maybe you were just in a hurry. It could be that when you originally wrote the article, you knew less about the topic, subject matter.
Should you just remove the page?
Sometimes content should be re-written or tweaked and sometimes it might be best to just go ahead and delete it. If you wrote articles about Google+ five years ago, I doubt they are doing anything for you today. If articles or pages aren’t performing and the subject matter is obsolete, you might want to consider deleting it, period. If you do this though, it’s best to create a 301 redirect. Search engines don’t love broken links. Website owners who linked to your page don’t love broken links, not to mention it can affect backlinks.
There are plenty of reasons to tweak, modify or completely re-write your website content. Updating your content could be as little as changing the title or adding an image. The fresher and more up-to-date you keep your content, the more likely people are to share it and continue visiting your website. If you happen on an article that is outdated and 8 years old, you might be less likely to visit other pages on the site.
Writing website content, whether it be for a blog post, a website page or even a product for e-commerce takes a lot of time. Instead of automatically writing a new article getting Instagram followers, it might be easier to just tweak an existing article and make it better.
More is not always better. You maybe have one article that gets you more traffic than all of your other content combined. Write good quality content that helps the user and keep it fresh.
And don’t forget, ideally you wouldn’t change the URL period (you can change the content and title). If you do, make sure you create a 301 redirect.