4 Smart Reasons to Update Old Content

4 Smart Reasons to Update Old Content

How important is content? Most would agree well-written content is the most important part of any website, regardless of industry, focus, or target audience. Yet most of the advice and information you read concerning content today is about creating new content. While it’s vital to do just that, there is something else you will benefit from as well. Update old content and you might be surprised by the results.

“Update available”

Few bloggers ever think they should update old content on their site. Yet updating existing content is a powerful thing to do. How often do you go back through your blog archives to see what is lurking in there? Many bloggers focus on creating new stuff, publishing it, promoting it, and drawing in new readers. That’s a good approach, of course, but so is tackling your old content – updating it, refreshing it, and making it better than before.

Remember Tyne Daly, famous for her portrayal of Mary Beth Lacey in Cagney & Lacey on TV and for her turn in Gypsy on Broadway? She once said her mother had a saying – ‘deeper, richer, fuller, better.’ She lives by that and I’ve adopted it when writing. It can be applied to so many different parts of life, but it certainly works when you’re thinking about old blog posts or content and considering how to make them better.

How often should you update old content on your website?

This is a tough one to answer. You cannot put a time or date on it. You can, however, be clear that website content should be updated whenever required. Check your posts periodically to make sure nothing is out of date or tired or in need of editing. No matter how good the post is to start with, you may well spot errors or elements that need polishing when you haven’t looked at that content for a while.

Figuring out why you should update old content is a far better question. If you need some reasons, here are four of them.

1: update old content and make it more powerful

green arrow with updates message
Are you updating old content?

Writers continually improve (hopefully). No matter how much you edit a post before publishing it or how long you leave it to ‘simmer’ before that final edit, there are always things you’ll spot if you go back to it after a few months. Things you could do better. Things you missed out. Things you know now that you didn’t know at the time. That applies to writing blog posts just as it does to writing novels.

That’s why blog content updates are a smart way of revitalising your blog. They also tend to give you more ideas for new posts. As you update old content, you will find lots of other ideas sparking off in all directions. Keep a document open to jot them down in or go for the old favourite notebook instead. Either way, capture those ideas when they appear. You’ll end up with more ideas and new topics to tackle than you might expect.

2: you can often expand on old ideas and inject new material into each piece

Some say it’s wrong to expand a finished post or article. I disagree. I don’t agree you should add content for the hell of it, but I think it is possible to rewrite and enrich existing content to make it better than it was before. You should always keep that in mind when attempting to update old content on your blog or website.

Let’s say you have a list post on 10 ways to start a new blog. As you’re reading through it, you think of a couple more. The obvious edit would be to add these two extra points while leaving everything else intact. However, you should still read through the rest of the content to make sure there isn’t anything that’s out of date, incorrect, or needs some more information added.

It’s also worth reading through each point on your list or each paragraph you’ve written, so you can see whether you’ve explained everything well enough. You might think of additional examples or statistics to include to bolster your piece too.

3: Google loves, loves, loves longer and more in-depth content

magnifying glass showing organic SEO results
Could you achieve better organic search engine results?

Getting to the top of the organic search results is every blogger’s goal. It’s also the goal of everyone who owns a website of any kind.

More clients than ever before are asking for one of two things (and sometimes a mix of both):

  • New content that is a minimum of 1,500-2,000 words long, sometimes much longer
  • Edits for older content to review, revise, and extend the original post to be republished

It’s easy to see why. Google values high-quality content above all else. Those in charge want to rid the search engines of poor content, thin content, and anything else people would be disappointed to see returned at the top of search results. Gone are the days when you could trick or cheat the search engines to get your site to the top of the organic search listings. (Did that ever work anyway? People may have seen your listing and clicked through to your site, but if they didn’t get a quality read when they got there, they wouldn’t hang around for long.)

A few days ago, a client sent me a blog post that was around 450 words when originally published. He wanted to expand it into a complete guide on the topic. He included some notes concerning various elements he wanted to cover and left the rest to me. The finished guide came out at just over 2,600 words. All the original content was still there, although it had been polished and divided into sections with appropriate subheadings inserted.

This made the piece easier to read, easier on the eye, and included everything someone might want to know about the topic, rather than the original quick overview and call to action. It also stands as a good example of how to expand on something you have already published.

4: updating old content could lead to better rankings

Older content was probably written according to the SEO rules and preferences of the time. The longer ago a post was written, the more likely it is to be out of kilter with today’s rules. We know new content should be valuable, well written, and ideally long-form content too. How long is a long-form article? Anything from 1,200 words and over qualifies, although I’ve been writing plenty of long-form articles for clients recently that have hit the 2,000-word mark and above.

I’ve also had clients tell me that updating and ‘beefing up’ old articles to reach 2,000 words or more is working better for them in terms of traffic. That’s compared to ignoring those older, shorter articles and blog posts in favour of creating new and longer posts. Ideally, you want to tackle a mix of the two, but it’s interesting to see how updating your old content could work wonders for your traffic and business.

If you want to continue creating new posts while updating old ones, try and do one of each of them every week. Set a schedule you can stick to though – it is better to be consistent.

How often should you publish (or update) content?

Lots of people ask this: “How often should you publish new content?” Some people say nothing less than daily will do. Others say weekly. Others have still more ideas. There is no firm answer here, but one thing you should know is that it is better to publish or update content when you have something new to say. Further, it is better to make sure that content is always of excellent quality. Bashing out 300 or 400 words daily is not going to get you the results you desire. Switching to one or two long-form posts every week may do, though.

If the thought of updating old blog posts (or writing new long-form posts) is daunting, ask me for help. I’ve been writing since 1990, with well over a decade of full-time professional experience under my belt. Get in touch today to find out more.

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