Content Refreshing: How to Update Old Content & Regain Lost Traffic

In their 2023 Global report on the state of content marketing, Semrush surveyed 1,700 marketers, and 42% of them confessed that updating existing content gave their content marketing the most boost.

If you’re scaling content operations, it’s time to pump the brakes on production, revisit your content library, and squeeze juice from previously published articles.

In this article, you’ll learn:

  • The power of content refreshes
  • The type of content that’ll benefit most from a refresh
  • How to refresh old content
  • And how often to carry out content refreshes. 

But let’s make sure we’re on the same page first.

What is Content Refreshing?

Content refreshing is an SEO optimization strategy that involves reviewing and sincerely updating existing content like blogs, whitepapers, or webpages to enhance their value, relevance, and visibility. 

A refresh could be light changes like incorporating insights from subject matter experts and improving the formatting. Or, it could be more extensive, like changing your point of view or reworking the entire piece. 

Either way, the focus is on maintaining and improving the quality of existing content to get evergreen value from it. Plus, content refreshing ensures that your customers find helpful, relevant information whenever they stumble on your content.

3 Reasons Why You Should Regularly Refresh Existing Content

Here are some reasons to make content refreshing a part of your content marketing strategy.

1. Content Refreshing Helps Boost Your Organic Traffic and Rankings

Improved traffic to a website is the biggest reason marketers refresh existing content. Instead of allowing content decay erode your SEO gains, conduct regular refreshes to help former high-performing pieces shine again. And the best part is the results are almost immediate. 

In a chat with Jonas Sickler, the Digital Marketing Analyst at Terakeet, he said- 

“After 8 months with no organic traffic growth, we executed a content audit and refreshed key pages. The updates contributed to 154.2% organic traffic increase and a 241.5% increase in SERP features following the August 2023 Core Update.”

Bill Gaule, the SEO strategist at Content Growth, told me he also recorded similar results after refreshing an old blog post. He said- 

“For one client, we refreshed an old blog post, and the traffic spiked within 24 hours of hitting update. 30 days later, there was a 1075% increase in clicks and a 280% increase in impressions.” 

2. It Satisfies the Content Freshness Factor

Google uses a freshness algorithm (rolled out in 2011) to give searchers the most recent information even when they do not specify it in a query. This means keeping your content up to date, especially in fast-moving or time-sensitive areas, will help you show up in the top results. And it makes perfect sense because fresh, accurate content improves the user experience for searchers. It’s also a positive trust signal that preserves your site’s relevancy. 

Gideon Rubin, the CEO of YourIAQ, a digital transformation resource, says-

“every quarter, we revisit and refresh the statistics in our popular blog post The 15 U.S. Cities With the Worst Indoor Air Pollution. These consistent updates help attract new visitors interested in the latest data. As a result, we’ve seen 28% increase in organic traffic and 18% rise in social media shares over the past six months.”

3. Content Refreshing Helps You Tackle Cannibalization Issues

Constant publishing without looking back increases your chances of creating multiple pages targeting similar keywords. However, building content updates into your editorial strategy allows you to regularly review similar URLs and content on your site. This way, you can sniff those cannibalizing pages before they suppress your cumulative growth. 

Ultimately, refreshing existing content is a way to work smarter, not harder. Since you’re not starting from scratch, an update usually requires less time and effort. It’s also cost-effective compared to creating new content and delivers quick wins. 

So, should you refresh every article in your content library? Read on to discover the best kind of content to prioritize when doing a refresh.

Which Content Should You Refresh?

The hard fact is a content refresh may not benefit every article on your website. So, it’s better to prioritize those pieces that’ll have the most impact. Typically, that involves:

  • Updating former high-performing pieces currently experiencing a decline
  • Pushing already high-ranking pieces to an even higher position, e.g., from positions 8- to the top 3
  • Improving content targeting highly relevant topics and keywords that aren’t ranking at all.

To find those pieces, conduct a content audit and analyze your inventory. Use tools like Google Analytics and Google Search Console to track content performance over time. It’s good practice to examine the year-on-year difference or compare periods like Quarter 4 vs Quarter 3 of the previous year to find content that has dropped off. 

Site crawler tools like ScreamingFrog or Sitebulb can help scan your website and export relevant data for analysis like URL, content type, date, title, etc. As you analyze, consider those posts that directly impact your business objectives, too, not just those with traffic potential.

Also, SEO tools like Advanced Web Ranking and AccuRanker come in handy with their position-tracking functionality, or you can check out this content decay calculator for identifying quick wins opportunities.

Let’s now look at how to refresh old content.

7 Ways to Refresh Old Content and Win Back SEO Gains

Often, I see content folks simply update the publish date or change the dates in the title and call it a day. Those are good moves, but they do not constitute an actual content refresh. Also, Google has evolved so much it can easily sniff out fishy tactics like mere data changes without any value add.

To reap the benefits of content refreshing, concentrate on making your content as recent and relevant as possible. Every piece of content will require a unique update depending on the kind of content it is, its performance, and so many other factors. 

But whatever the case, here are the action steps to take to update your content and reclaim its lost glory.

1. Check if the Search Intent Still Aligns

Let’s start with the most important SEO ranking factor. Search intent is simply the reason, pain point, or desire behind a search, and this intent can change over time. To rank, your content must align with the specific intent of a topic at every given time. If the intent shifts, you may lose your position.

When refreshing content, use InLinks to confirm your article aligns with the current user intent. InLinks will show you the real-time keywords and questions people are searching about your topic and then use verbs to describe the exact pain point they have in mind. With this, you can refresh your content to capture the exact information the searcher seeks because you know what they hope to get from their search.

If your existing content is completely off, it’s best to rewrite it to match. As you do that, ensure the content is in the right format. By format, I mean:

  • Creating the type of content Google wants to rank. Check the SERPs to see if competitors are creating how-to guides, product pages, comparison posts, etc, and do the same.
  • Present the information they want quickly. For example, if your page targets the topic “best hiking shoes,” searchers want to see a review of hiking shoes with information on fit, materials, and pricing so they know which one to buy. Not some how-to guide on the different types of hiking shoes or how to pick the right hiking shoe. You can include this information if you think it’s necessary, but make sure to put it towards the end after you’ve fulfilled the search intent.
  • Speak to your reader at their knowledge level. If your content speaks above or below the reader’s knowledge level, it does not address their pain point. A post targeting a more experienced audience should be written differently from one aimed at beginners. Why? Because their desires are different. So, as you update every post, ask yourself if it aligns with the pain point of the target reader. (Ideally, you’ve gone through the audience research phase to identify who you’re writing for). 

2. Update Outdated Information

Dated information is not limited to the statistics on your page. It includes the examples and advice you’ve used to add context to your article. Look through them to confirm they still make sense and are relevant to the search intent and use case. If no, change or remove them. 

Review your point of view to ensure it is still helpful. If you have tutorial-style content or reviews about your tool,  confirm they’re still a correct representation of your product and messaging. If not, make the necessary adjustments. You do not want users to land on old blog posts and bounce because they’re inaccurate.

3. Make It Comprehensive With Actionable Advice

The best way to do this is to step into the reader’s shoes. Ask yourself –

  • “Is this article detailed enough and helpful?”
  • “Can I walk away from it knowing the next steps to take?

Your goal as a marketer is to satisfy curiosity with in-depth, actionable content, not create more questions. So, mention every relevant detail. Use relatable examples and case studies to corroborate your argument, then drive your point home with practical next steps the reader can execute. 

For example, I recently refreshed this post on topical authority for SEO. It was initially just 950 words on such an important and complex topic and ranked on page 4. After the refresh, the final product is an in-depth 2,500-word piece now ranking on the first page. 

However, I didn’t add more words to the piece just to boost it up the SERPs. Instead, I added value with more headings, context for every point, and clear, actionable advice on how to build topical authority the right way.

For instance, look at this excerpt below. You can see how I provided context on why the reader should do entity-based keyword research instead of what they’re already used to. Then, I supported my argument by showing how to find entities associated with a topic. I even linked to an additional resource about entities in SEO to answer any further questions and make the concept less vague.  

The highlighted areas were added during the update to improve the article.

Please note making your content comprehensive is not an excuse to add fluff. As you write, ensure every sentence and word earns its spot on your page. Don’t make your readers look for the information they need by including too much irrelevant detail. Cut to the chase quickly so they can be on their way.

4. Use SEO Recommendations to Reoptimize

Once you’re done making changes to your content, the next step is reoptimization to give it the best possible chance at ranking. So, run it through the InLinks content optimization tool to get clear SEO recommendations for the best result.

InLinks will show you all the important entities you need to rank for your topic, including a frequency range so you don’t accidentally over-optimize. You’ll also get background information for using each entity, sub-topic suggestions, word count recommendations, a content score, and readability level.

You can refresh your content within InLinks and see all the optimization data in real-time. InLinks’ WYSIWYG editor is like your Google Docs or MS Word; it autosaves every 30 seconds. 

Every InLinks optimization report comes with a competitive analysis of the top-ranking posts so you can analyze competing themes, entities, and questions. It also includes an AI writer to serve as your creative assistant. All these will help you produce fresh SEO-optimized content that’ll rank and perform well.

In addition to using InLinks, remember to do basic on-page optimizations like –

  • Include images, infographics, or videos 
  • Use alt text and captions for multimedia content
  • Write descriptive meta-descriptions 
  • Check for spelling, punctuation, grammar, and flow
  • Update the publish date.

Content refreshing is an opportunity to connect your old and new articles with fresh internal links. Internal linking helps the search crawlers find and understand your new content. They also guide readers to other posts that clarify your point and provide additional value without leaving your website. 

InLinks can help you build new internal links to your content as you refresh them. Just make sure they’re part of an InLinks project, and the system will automatically create links between related, relevant posts. 

You should also review old internal links in your content to confirm they’re not broken. If you’ve recently consolidated content pages, make sure you’ve implemented 301 redirects to the new pages. 

📚Recommended Reading: A review of InLinks internal linking tool

6. Include SEO Schema Markup

Adding or updating your schema markup is a key part of any content refresh program. Schema will help Google better understand your updated content, consequently improving how it appears on the SERPS. 

InLinks can generate and add the correct webpage and FAQ schema markup to your content. Just bring your page into InLinks and associate it with a target topic. The software will automatically generate the schema code in JSON-LD format and add it to your page.

📚Recommended Reading: A review of InLinks schema markup generator

7. Improve the User Experience

As you refresh content, pay attention to the user experience on each page. Simple things like adding a table of contents at the top or jump links by the side of a long post can make a huge difference. Also, use concise language, break your content into small paragraphs, and use bullet points as much as possible. 

The goal is to make your content accessible so readers can easily navigate and find what they need. Good UX improves dwell time and content engagements, which adds up to impact your performance. 

How Often Should You Refresh Old Content?

Regularly, which could be every few months or quarters, depending on your content marketing strategy, business goals, the topics you’re targeting, site’s performance, domain authority, and a host of other factors. 

There are no set timelines for content refreshing. How often you refresh content will be unique to your business. The best approach is to monitor your content’s performance and define specific triggers for troubleshooting.

Also, if an article is performing well, it’s not compulsory to make significant changes simply because time has passed. Moves like that may tank your ranking.

Build Content Refreshing Into Your Content Operation

Content refreshing is not just a recommended strategy; it’s necessary in the SEO landscape. By breathing new life into existing content, you can regain lost traffic, improve your organic search rankings, and stay relevant in the eyes of your audience.

How much refreshing you do will be unique to your situation, as it’s equally important to create new content that helps fill the gaps in your content strategy. However, what matters most is finding a balance by building content updates into your workflow. That way, you’ll hold your rankings much longer, maintain steady web traffic, and reach your SEO goals.

Finally, measure the results of your content refresh efforts. Remember, SEO is not a set-it-and-forget-it business. So, use metrics like bounce rate, conversion, social shares, backlinks, and time on page to evaluate the effectiveness of your efforts and identify areas needing improvement.

This post was researched and drafted by Juliet John and reviewed and edited by Dixon Jones.

Share this entry



0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *