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As one of the premier SEO service providers in Birmingham, we at Distribute Digital have always found it challenging and fun to educate our clients about how SEO works. Since everything is almost instant in today’s digital world, one of the common misconceptions about SEO is that it works like magic. However, this just isn’t the case.
Search engine optimisation is constantly changing just as the market, competition, and search engines continuously evolve.
If you want to increase your rankings on Google, you have to keep your content fresh and up-to-date. Sure, you can keep publishing new content. But, there’s a strategy that could deliver the same results faster—if not better—and without a lot of extra work: updating your old, existing content.
Because SEO is a well-balanced and ever-changing strategy, any website update you make can affect your search engine rankings. When done correctly, it can contribute to your SEO strategy. But, one wrong move can throw all your efforts out the window.
In today’s article, we will go through an in-depth guide on how changes in your content can affect your SEO.
What’s in this guide:
Will a 100% Content Change on a Page Affect Your SEO?
Short answer, yes. Whenever you make changes or updates to your page, the search engine—Google, for this matter—will recrawl the page and reindex it accordingly. This applies to your titles, headers, metadata, content, URL structure, etc.
Because search engine crawlers are technically software programs, a robot will view and analyse any changes to your site. So regardless of whether it’s a total revision or how insignificant an update may seem, you’ll see its impact on your Google rankings in a few days or so.
It explains why you must take stock of your site and keep track of any changes as you make them. But remember, while a content change can have long-term benefits, it may also come with short-term challenges. Listed below are some of the changes that can directly affect your search engine rankings.
Search engines like Google love fresh content. Publishing new content keeps search engine crawlers coming back to your site as this sends signals to search engines that your site is active and relevant—the more pages you have indexed, the more search engines see you as an expert. It will help improve your rankings and open up more internal and inbound linking opportunities. It will attract more quality visitors that can convert into customers.
Regardless of the industry you are in, your content has an expiration date. In most cases, 95% of your content will get most of its traffic within 1-3 days after publishing, before it gets old and starts to get out of circulation gradually. In this case, you can update it which can lead to better rankings, more links, and more traffic.
However, keep in mind that the effects could be different when you make changes to your site (e.g. new blog page). This can take a hit on your site architecture, which search engines and users use to understand your pages’ hierarchy and how information is organized. Good site architecture should help users reach any page on your site in three clicks or less. So, when updating your site, make sure to update your architecture and carry it out correctly.
For similar reasons, actions such as moving to a new domain site, modifying your URL structure, migrating to a new CMS, or changing web hosts can also affect your search rankings. Your best bet is to make sure you document every change you make. Unfortunately, this can be a time-consuming process.
You should expect a temporary drop in rankings following any of these changes. Therefore, if you’re making large-scale updates to your site, we recommend getting professional SEO services to reduce the risk of errors. Enlisting the services of an SEO agency is one way to ensure that your site remains SEO-friendly and that each change made is working towards better optimising your site.
11 Best Practices to Update Your Content
We have said earlier that making updates to your old content is a great way to increase your rankings with less work and faster results. It’s true because Google determines the quality of your site based on the freshness of its content, among other factors. There are many ways you can update old content, each less complicated than writing a new one.
- Improve click-through rate
For most of your search queries, you will notice that the top results are often published in the past year or so. It’s because for most of the topics, information gets updated and what may be accurate at the time of publishing may be outdated today. Plus, as a reader, wouldn’t you prefer to read something published recently than an article from 2012? It explains why updating your article could result in an increase in click-through rate, because aside from the renewed interest in your content, Google is also more likely to rank you higher in the search engine results pages (SERPs).
- Update headlines and descriptions
Refreshing your content is also an opportunity to write a click-worthy headline and description, which in return helps you maintain a strong position in SERPS. Keep the headlines relevant and within the 50-60 ideal character count. If you want to further maximize the chance of your headline getting read, limit it to six words, because it’s suggested that we tend to only absorb the first and last three words of a headline.
- Fix errors
Errors could be anything from grammar and spelling mistakes that you may have missed during publication to more serious ones. While spelling and grammar are technically not Google ranking factors, poor grammar and spelling can still affect user experience, thus costing you visitors and engagement. This will reflect in your rankings, even though indirectly. Take a bit of time to edit any spelling and grammar errors. For better results, bump your blog to the top of your homepage and promote it like a fresh new article.
- Update information
The focus should always be on creating high-quality, valuable content that meets user intent. You can further make your content more relevant and helpful for your visitors by updating it with new information. As Google pushes to further refine user experience, this move will send the signal to the search engine that you are making your content a more valuable resource to visitors. Provide additional context, optimise your post for more relevant keywords, add more accurate and up-to-date information, and you will see your rankings skyrocket.
- Fix broken links
While seemingly innocent and harmless, broken links can hurt your bounce rate and time-on-site metrics. These can also signal to users that you are not trustworthy and to Google that your site is outdated, all of which could affect your rankings.
For broken internal links, your best options include checking for typos and correcting them, recreating the deleted page, or redirecting to a page with relevant and updated content. You should only resort to deleting a broken internal link if it’s no longer essential to your site. Meanwhile, you can easily delete the broken link and link to newer, better resources for broken external links. These include updated statistics, infographics, breaking news, recent events, and the like.
Fixing broken links also includes implementing 301 redirects. This allows you to retain link equity but also ensures users are redirected away from old, broken links.
- Link to your own resources
Along the lines of updating links, it’s also a great idea to link to a relevant article you recently published. By including recent resources, you can add depth to your content, update it, and drive more traffic without spending hours creating a new blog post. While at it, SEO consultants suggest updating your calls-to-action (CTAs) when applicable so they remain relevant to your updated content.
- Add multimedia
Updating your content is also a chance to add new, different types of media like images, infographics, and video. As a rule of thumb, you should include some form of media for every 350 words or so. This is an easy way to make your content more engaging. Videos, for example, keep users on your website longer—about 88% longer to be exact.
- Optimise for the right keywords
Users rely on your site for valuable information. Therefore, updating your content to better target the keywords your audience is searching for can increase the likelihood of your site ranking higher in the search results. Tools like SEMrush Keyword Magic Tool, Ahrefs Keyword Generator, and Ubersuggest can help you identify the right keywords to optimise for based on the following data:
- the keywords you rank for
- estimated search volume
- your site’s Google rankings
- your estimated site traffic
- organic search competition
- Fix issues with Google updates
Most experts in professional SEO services estimate that Google updates its algorithm anywhere between 500 and 800 times every year—or somewhere between 1-2 updates every day. While most of these changes are insignificant, others may change how we optimise for search engines. Review all your previous content to make sure that it keeps up with Google’s latest changes. It’s your best shot to ensure your site’s success in rankings.
- Repurpose your content
To get the most out of your old blog post, create different content types by converting it into an infographic, podcast, or slideshow. Here, you don’t have to go back and research new information—just repurpose what you already have. Besides improving the visibility of your post, it also opens up opportunities to generate new backlinks, which in return can improve your rankings.
- Promote it again
When you’ve updated your old content, you should also promote it like it’s brand new. Share it with your email list, post it on social media, and reach out to influencers who are likely to share your content. Make it easy for your readers to share your posts by adding share buttons on the page. All these efforts should help maximise your content’s potential to expand its reach.
Why Should You Update Your Content Anyway?
Content that works for your business should not only be clear, accurate, and informative, it should also be up-to-date to keep in line with all the other aspects that make great content. So, updating content revises an article into something that attracts a new wave of readers, but what are the ultimate benefits?
Content loses its value over time as search engines favour content that is accurate and relevant for users and prioritise fresh ones over older pieces. It explains why you would eventually see a drop in rankings as your content gets older.
By updating old posts, you are showing Google that keeping your content accurate and relevant matters to you as much as it matters to them. It’s also a way to consider any SEO changes that could otherwise affect your SEO efforts.
If a reader comes across one of your articles, you want them to stay for as long as possible, if not until they read the piece. Of course, if you’re the reader, it would be helpful if your content is fresh and features the most updated information. Think of your article as a piece of news. Would you read it if it’s outdated? We think not.
Less Time, Better Results
In summary, updating your old content could bring positive results with a lot less work. It takes little time and effort to redo an article, but it could mean better search rankings, more quality links, more site traffic, and more shares. All these ultimately lead to new audiences discovering you and converting into customers.
Writing new blogs regularly and consistently is the foundation of any content marketing strategy. But what about your previous, under-performing articles sitting on your website? It turns out, there are also inherent benefits to revisiting some of the content you have already done and probably forgotten about. You don’t always have to create new ones to push your content strategy forward—not when updating your old content can improve your SEO and help you achieve your marketing goals just as well, if not better.
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