Whether you’ve been blogging for years or you’re new to the game, we commend you on your commitment to content! Publishing fresh, new content regularly is one of the best ways to drive traffic to your site. But when was the last time you thought about your old posts? Once you hit publish, do you put them on the back burner? If the answer is yes, we’re here to help you breathe new life into your blog’s oldest posts. Below are the crucial reasons why it’s important to update old posts as well as some easy tips for boosting your traffic and generating new visits.
Why You Need to Be Updating Old Blog Posts
Think of your blog posts as investments you’ve allowed to mature over time. Thinking of them this way makes it’s easy to see that your oldest posts are likely your most valuable asset. Why? Because older posts have had time to build an audience through social media shares and email newsletters. And more importantly, those URLs have had time to rack up search value with Google.
At Twenty Over Ten, we did a little experiment to see if updating old blog posts is worth the effort and the results were eye-opening.
The above chart is just a glimpse at six different blog posts we targeted over the span of our two-year experiment and you can see we’ve increased the number of organic pageviews of old posts we optimized. It’s safe to say we are true believers in the idea of historical blog optimization now and we think you should be too!
Still not convinced historical optimization needs to be added to your to-do list? Here are a few reasons why you’ll want to start updating your old blog posts:
not doing so is a Waste Your Original Time and Effort
Somebody had to write, edit, publish and promote those posts. Deleting them (or letting them go by the wayside) means a serious waste of your or someone you hired’s valuable time and effort. Plus, it takes much less time to rework old posts than create new ones from scratch!
Not All Posts Are Created Equal
If thinking about updating all of your old blog posts sounds intimidating, rest assured this likely isn’t the case. When we say “old” blog posts, we mean anything you’ve already written and published – whether it was last week or 5 years ago. So, of course, anything you’ve written recently will need very little (or none) reworking done.
Instead, you’ll want to inventory your posts and use Google Analytics to determine what your best performing pieces are and which could use some TLC.
The Need for New Content Isn’t Growing
Confused? Think about it: There are over 4 billion new blog posts published every day. EVERY DAY. While the amount of content is increasing exponentially, the amount viewers are willing or wanting to consume isn’t necessarily following suit. That means consumers are continuing to consume content at the same rate they have been. It’s not more content they desire, it’s higher quality content.
An Old Post Is Still a First Impression
A very important reason to update your old posts is to ensure they’re still representing your firm the way you want them to. Making sure every post is up to your standards puts you in control of how your firm comes across to new site visitors. For example, someone landing on a stale, outdated post today may not know how old it is or that it’s below your current standards of content. To them, this post is a poor first impression of your firm that could keep them from exploring your site further.
8 Steps To Updating Old Blog Posts To Generate New Visits
Every week, you should go back through old blog posts and choose at least one to optimize. Here’s the 8 steps you’ll need to follow. We’ll go through each step one-by-one in detail.
- Find out which posts to optimize using Google Analytics
- Check out your competition
- Update Page Title, Meta Description and Body Copy to include relevant keywords
- Add new internal links (links between your pages) & Get new Inbound links (backlinks from others’ pages into your page)
- Make sure content meets current SEO standards
- Ensure Content is Evergreen
- Add New Publish Date
1. Find Which Posts To Optimize & Collect Data Using Google Analytics
Never just guess on how to make a blog post better. Instead, you want to do a deep dive into your blog’s Google Analytics. Here, you can find which posts are currently driving the most traffic to the site, which see the best engagement and which posts aren’t doing either. Based on this data, you can better understand what it is your audience responds to and make changes accordingly.
While Google Analytics is great for many things, understanding how each piece of content you have is ranking (page by page) for specific keywords is much easier to determine using Google Search Console. Here’s how to setup Google Search Console if you haven’t already, and. here’s how to use it to track which keywords your various blog posts are ranking well for.
If your post is already seeing traffic from relevant or decent volume keywords, then you may just want to ensure those are being utilized in your most important page areas including the title or H2, meta title, meta description and any calls to action (CTA). In addition, you’ll want to do some more keyword research to see if there are any keywords you may be missing out on.
2. Check Out Your Competition
Once you decide which article you want to optimize, it’s time to do a little competitive analysis. To start, I like to simply Google the title of the post I am optimizing. For instance, if your blog post was
“Doctors: everything you need to know about paying off medical school debt while saving for retirement”, you would start by Googling that phrase. What results come up?
PAY CLOSE ATTENTION TO HOW TOP-RANKING PAGES ARE WRITTEN
You should pay close attention to how these top competitor results are structured in terms of Page Title and Meta Descriptions. (Remember, the Page Title is the 2nd most important on-page ranking factor, and the meta description you should think of as “ad copy” – it is the text that will entice the searcher to choose your post to click on (or not).) Here’s how to create top-ranking titles for your advisor website and how to create click-worthy meta descriptions. )
Additionally, you may want to think about re-titling your blog post entirely. When you do your search, you’ll see that Google will actually TELL YOU what other people are searching for related to the title you initially entered. You can also scroll to the bottom of the Google search results page and see even more suggestions.
DISCOVER HOW POPULAR A SEARCH PHRASE IS USING GOOGLE ADWORDS
If you want to see how many people are searching for a query (aka how popular that term is – or the potential amount of exposure you could get), you can use Google Ad Words to determine the popularity of any search. You just need to set up a Google Adwords account (free). Even if you don’t actually use it to create ads at this moment, you can use it for this purpose. Since we find a very small percentage of financial advisors are actually using this strategy – taking the time to do a bit of digging can really propel your results.
DISCOVER HOW WELL YOUR SITE RANKS FOR THAT PHRASE USING GOOGLE SEARCH CONSOLE
You can also go back to your Google Search Console account, and enter in a specific query, to determine how often your site is currently being shown for that query. For example, In the image below, you can see that for the query “content for financial advisors” – our blog was shown in the search results when (someone searched for that EXACT phrase) 1,398 times.
Of those 1,398 times our site was shown, 53 people clicked on the result, giving the page a 3.8% CTR (click-through-rate). The average position on the page (how high our page was ranking for that query) was 2.2.
Keep in mind, this does NOT mean that there were only 1,398 searches for this phrase across the entire internet during this period of time we are examining. It simply means that is how often Google decided to include our page in the list of results.
3. Update page Title, Meta Description & Body Copy To add Relevant Keywords
Once you have done your data digging and examined your competition, you can start updating the blog post in question. Here’s what to examine and update when optimizing old blog posts:
- Blog Post Title
- Page Title
- Meta Description
- Date Published (in most cases, it is a good idea to set the publish date to the new date you are making the updates on – more on that below)
- Add New Images/Graphs/Charts
- Update any old stats or data
- Add new paragraphs of text
- Link to new blog posts you have written on relevant topics within the body copy – internal linking
- Make sure you have added an Author with their bio photo (a new Google ranking factor – having an author listed).
- Update or add a relevant CTA (Call to Action) at the bottom of your post. <—- This is crucial. TELL readers what to do next, and they are much more likely to do so!
4. Add New Internal Links & Boost Inbound Links
As you create new content, make sure you’re combing through your old blog posts and linking to any that may be relevant. It’s easy to forget about something you published two years ago, but it could be a great resource to add to your latest post – and it can help boost traffic to your older pieces. Don’t forget to go through your older posts as well and add in links to new pieces to ensure your internal linking strategy is well-rounded.
Inbound links are the links pointing to your blog posts from third-party sites. These are SEO gold because they tell Google that other sites find your content to be legitimate and relevant enough to send their own audiences too. Adding more inbound links to your older posts is a great way to elevate your SEO efforts and drive more traffic to your posts. To do this, reach out to relevant organizations, publications and peers to offer guest posting opportunities in exchange for linking opportunities to your relevant older posts. If you republish the blog post with a new publish date (see more on that below) the content itself will be so fresh that you can pitch it as an entirely new, up-to-date piece.
5. Do an SEO Audit And UpDate To Meet Current SEO Standards
Because of the nature of SEO, we know it’s always changing. That means that, sadly, what worked two, three or four years ago could long be outdated today. Therefore, if your older posts have not been optimized since the day they were published, chances are they aren’t meeting SEO best practices today. We recommend creating or following a checklist to ensure you’re focusing on some of the biggest SEO heavy hitters. These can include mobile optimization, keyword strategies, the inclusion of metadata and alt text and a savvy internal linking strategy.
New to SEO or Looking for Today’s SEO Best Practices?
6. Ensure Content Is Evergreen
Go through your old posts (including any that have been recently published) and remove any references that could date your pieces. This allows your content to stay evergreen, meaning it remains relevant over time. For example, you should avoid (when possible) pointing out time spans, specific years or trends. By making your older posts evergreen, you’ll have to spend less time going back and updating your content on a regular basis.
Dated: Here Are the Hottest Investment Tips to Use in 2010
Evergreen: Here Are the Hottest Investment Tips to Use This Year
7. Update Publish Date
Simply giving your content a much-needed refresh could be the key to driving more traffic to that post. Why? Because Google always values fresh content. In their eyes, your older blogs have become stale and outdated. Plus, as we mentioned before, these old blogs may not be meeting your standards of content today or SEO best practices. It is also a good idea ensure the post you are working on is well-optimized for readability. If the post doesn’t include headers and easy-to-ready, skimmable text, it’s time to reorganize and refresh.
Once you have made a decent amount of changes to your posts, it’s important to republish the piece with a new publish date. Having an updated publish date is a great way to make your posts appear more relevant and up-to-date in the SERP. As users are choosing which listing to select in the SERP, do you think they’ll go for one published last month or the one posted 3 years ago? (The answer is almost always the newer one!)
Depending on the nature of your post, you may want to add a line (in italics) to the top of your post that says something like *Originally published in May 2018. Updated June 2, 2020.
8. Repromote Your Old Blogs
Another simple answer to driving traffic to your posts is to repromote them. Use these newly optimized and refreshed posts as content for your upcoming social media calendar or email newsletters. Not only is this a great way to highlight your older content, but it means that’s less original content you need to create as you work on your digital marketing efforts.
While you are making updates to your old blog post, a great tactic is to also create a new graphic that you can use to promote the piece. We recommend the tool Canva as it is easy to use, allows multiple members of your team to collaborate and save files, and for the fact that they have a great free version!
Here is a great example of an image we created in Canva to promote our blog post “How to Incorporate More Diversity in Your Advisor Website & Marketing”
Once you create an image, you can set it to be the image that is shared whenever someone shares or links to your blog post (in your CMS’s social share settings). You can also use it in email newsletters, the blog post itself, or in your planned social media posts.
Generating New Visits From Old Blogs
Repurposing old posts is a great way to boost your blog’s traffic without generating brand new content. These posts are often full of potential thanks to their long-standing online presence. And with the simple tips and tricks we mentioned above, you can easily and quickly breath new life into your oldest content!
You put a lot of work into creating blogs that generate leads and drive traffic to your website. By historically optimizing your posts, you are able to get a lot more legs out of your content, and in turn, generate more leads to your site.
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About the author
Blair is a digital marketing assistant at Twenty Over Ten and has a passion for uncovering what drives online traffic and the highest engagement. She follows more animals on Instagram than humans and her greatest achievement is her daughter, Grey.