When you’re just starting out in this blogging game, it pays in spades to write lots and lots of unique content.
- You get to practice your writing and perfect your unique style.
- You get to form a firm content foundation for your site.
- And if you target LHF (low hanging fruit) keywords, you also get to rank for easy pickings and maybe earn a buck or two early on.
Publishing often is great, but there comes a time when the blog is mature enough for you to stop and reflect.
“Is my content doing well? Should I update my old posts, instead of always publishing new and new stuff”?
Short answer: Yes
Long answer: Read this post to find out:)
Here are 4 reasons why you should be updating your posts regularly.
#1- Content is outdated
When you have outdated content on your blog, you can either:
- remove it;
- update it.
Sometimes it is necessary to press “delete”, but most of the time, you can bring it up to date and reap the benefits that come with it.
It explains in great detail the steps you need to take to rank in voice search today.
And that’s great, but…What works today, might not tomorrow. So if the situation drastically changes, Peter will have to go back and make the post relevant again or risk losing all traffic for it.
That’s because the search engines of tomorrow are going to be much smarter than they are today. They’ll be able to tell on their own whether your content is horribly outdated, and if it is, won’t even consider showing you anywhere close to the first page.
So you must make it up to snuff, period.
#2- Content is proven wrong
Let’s you say A with your blog post, but evidence surfaces that says, no, it’s actually -A.
You need to update the post.
And you can approach it in two ways.
a) Delete old content (keep old URL); write new content.
This method works because, since you’re keeping your URL, Google knows that it’s an update and not a new post, so you get to keep ranking signals that are already accumulated (mainly shares and links), and are not starting from scratch.
But there’s are problems too…
b) Keep old content and URL, add new text to the page.
If the old page is ranking for stuff, you’re going to lose those rankings when you delete the text. The answer is to add an update below the main text and to tell people you’ve updated the post, as soon they reach the page.
This post is updated to reflect the new research. CLICK HERE to go there now (click here would be a jump link)
This way you get to keep old rankings and folks are not duped into reading outdated stuff.
#3- You want to get a ranking boost
Updating content by making it substantially better is the best way to get a serious ranking boost, and fast. It’s because Google’s algorithm is biased toward articles that provide complete information to the visitor.
They’re not perfect at this of course, but they do try their best to reward sites that aim to answer every potential question a visitor has.
How to find additional topics to write about?
That’s easy. Just type your target keyword in Google, look what your competitors are talking about and you’re not.
Then update your article accordingly.
Those were the three primary reason why you need to be updating your content. But there’s a fourth one- taking advantage of Google Freshness.
That topic deserves an entire article section, so pause for a second, take a deep breath, get some coffee and… continue reading.
#4- Google Freshness Algorithm- How it influences rankings and how you can use it to boost your site
It’s no secret that Google favors fresh content. Not always; or for all keywords; but usually, if two pages match each-other in other ranking factors, then the one that’s recently updated will rank higher in the SERP’s.
Note– For full scope on Google freshness I recommend these two resources:
But here are some tips that will get you pretty far on their own.
a) Not all updates are equal- go big or go home
In order to not update every link’s freshness from a minor edit of a tiny unrelated part of a document, each updated document may be tested for significant changes (e.g., changes to a large portion of the document or changes to many different portions of the document) and a link’s freshness may be updated (or not updated) accordingly.
So small changes are likely just a waste of time
Schedule updates and make them substantial.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you need to overhaul the entire article. You just need to make it different enough to be counted as freshly updated.
- Add a paragraph here, remove one there.
- Video at the top, slides at the bottom.
- Lists, graphics, charts.
Bottom line – Google hates cosmetic changes. Go for substance instead.
Pro tip – Never updates pages just by adding new links.
For example, you publish a new post and then you go back to your older articles to add internal links that point to your new post, so you can boost it a bit.
Good strategy… except that it doesn’t work. If you update just the link, the post will remain stale and the link won’t help at all.
The solution is to change the words are around the link too. Then it becomes stronger and passes freshness value.
Speaking of internal links…
b)- Internal links spread freshness throughout the site
This is more of a passive benefit because there isn’t much you can do about it. But when you update an article all internal links on that page pass their freshness to pages they’re linking to.
That’s why you can often see that after you’ve updated one page, several other pages jumped in rankings too.
If you ask me- that’s a great side effect:)
Pro tip- Sites that are often updated have heightened freshness value. That helps with their rankings, a lot. So it pays to update and publish often.
Note- Needless to say (I’ll do it anyway) the content you’re pushing must be good. Crap won’t rank for crappy keywords even.
c) Comments don’t cut it
There’s a thought around the SEO web that comments refresh a page, thus giving it a rankings boost. According to Google- that’s not the case:
#4- Backlinks boost freshness
Getting links to a page is always a good thing. Links help you rank higher for your keyword, and they boost the overall rankability of your site.
But they also signal freshness to Google. Because Google is a machine, and it assumes that people link to relevant/updated, and useful stuff.
So keep the links coming, they help in more ways than one.
#5- Traffic and engagement signal freshness
When you get people on your page, and they:
- stay on the page,
And overall seem to enjoy being on your site, that sends a powerful signal to Google that your page is fresh.
Think about it, why would people stay and consume your content if it’s out of date?
The answer- they wouldn’t!
How to update a page or a post- the right way to do it
Updating content offers a boatload of benefits, but you can get them halved if you don’t do one simple thing- add the “last updated tag”.
That is because, when Google sees the original published date on your page, then, even though the content is changed, the effects are smaller than if you also display “last updated” tag.
WordPress by default shows the published date but there’s a workaround
First, install this plugin and activate it.
Then, in your WP dashboard go to Plugins/Installed Plugins/ WP Last Modified Info/Settings
Here’s how to set it up (look at the image)
- Enabled for posts on fronted– Yes
- Last Modified Info Display Method– before content
- Show on Archives– No
- Custom Message to Display on Posts:- Last updated
- Last Modified Info Format for Posts– Human readable format
- Display Last Modified Author Name– No
And that’s it. Now all your posts will also have the last updated label.
Bonus- how to see how the age of the pages you’re competing against
Note– I learned this awesome trick from Glen Allsop.
It’s a way for you to see the published dates of all articles you’re competing against.
And why is this important?
Because you want to see whether freshness is a significant ranking factor for the keyword you’re after.
If you notice older articles dominating the first page, then your brand new page will have a hard time competing.
On the other hand, If you see a couple of freshly minted articles already ranking high, that means your new page can replace them.
Note- My example keyword is “KW Finder Review” Peter has an awesome review you should check out, but it’s still not ranking on the first page, where it belongs. My hunch is that other articles have age as their advantage.
So, I go and Google my target keyword.
Then I go Tools/any time and set to custom range (hint- you want to make it a two years time span because that’s reasonably old for the web).
And here’s what we’ve got:
Bottom line– in order to compete, Peter’s article will need to age a bit more, because other reviews are older than his.
Bonus #2- Change the published date for a quick burst of rankings
As a general rule, the home page of the site has the most authority. And often the homepage hosts the blog roll, so all posts on the home page are linked to from the strongest page on the site.
For example, Peter’s homepage authority is 34 (PA- page authority according to Moz).
That is reasonably powerful.
But look, when you dig into his archive that authority drops fast. His fourth page has PA of 20. That means all posts on that page are significantly weaker than posts from the first page.
Now, if Peter wanted to boost his post quickly, he’d just need to go into one of his posts on the fourth page (for example his guide on boosting organic traffic) and update it’s published date.
That will immediately move it to the first page where it will enjoy the strongest link equity homepage can give it.
And that increased link power will cause it to rank higher for all its keywords.
simple AND effective:)
Conclusion- Updating content- a superb strategy for your blog, right?
Tell me, what’s better:
having a huge archive of posts so dusty you can’t even see them; or boasting fewer articles, but they get read, shared, and linked to all the time?
If you answered the latter, good job!
But that was the easy part. Much harder is actually going back and updating your posts.
But I’m sure you can manage. If for nothing else, because now you know why you should be updating your posts, and you’d be stupid not to take advantage of it.
And I know you’re smart:)
Tell me your thoughts in the comments,