Oct. 10, 2016
The American Marketing Association is pleased to feature blog posts from Orbit Media in a content partnership.
You wrote it years ago. It did well at the time. People liked it …and clicked, opened, commented and shared it. But then you and your readers moved on. You never looked back. But maybe it’s time to revisit those old articles. Maybe it’s time to update old blog posts and republish them. Maybe bringing old articles up to date is the best move we can make as content marketers.
Why? 4 reasons to update something old vs. make something new
Because it’s easier, faster and more effective to update an old article than to create a new one. Why update old blog posts? Here are a few reasons:
- It’s faster to update an old post than write something new
- You’ll improve the quality of your blog more by upgrading an older post
- It’s easier to promote in social media because you’ll know just who to share it with
- You’ll rank higher in search because an older post may already have some authority.
In other words, you’ll get better results with less effort. In our example here, I’ll show you how we got twice the traffic in half the time by updating an old blog post.
When? How you know it’s time to update that old post
Four years ago, we published an article with advice on internal linking. People liked it at the time. It explained how to link between articles in ways that are good for visitors and search engines.
Then we forgot all about it. But surprisingly, this post kept getting traffic. It was optimized for the phrase “internal linking” and ranked well. We tracked our rank using Moz, and over the years, we watched that rank slowly drop.
And as rankings fall, so does traffic. This post once enjoyed 300 visits per day. But that number was falling to just over 100. This post was teetering on the edge of obscurity.
But what a shame! It had done so well. The URL itself had attracted links and mentions. A quick check on Search Console showed that 79 different websites had linked to it over the years. This is one of the most linked to URLs on this website. According to Moz, this was a post with a page authority of 49. That’s not bad!
So here was a post with strong ranking potential, but without a little love, it was doomed to irrelevance. Time to save it, to bring it up to date, make it new. Time to update this old blog post.
How? Guidelines for updating your old articles
The goal is quality. The goal is a better, more current, more useful/entertaining article. It’s more than a new coat of paint. It’s really a new article. But here’s what you’ll keep:
What not to change:
- The topic
- The best parts
- The URL
To get a sense for what parts of the article to keep, go back and look at the comments, look at the social media shares and listen to your audience. Anything that got people talking is worth keeping.
What to update:
- Add details, examples and length
- Add media, such as images, audio and video
- Add input from experts, as in contributor quotes
Although it’s mostly a re-written article, We started with an amazing first draft. It took a lot less time than starting an article with a blank screen. It was about half as much time as writing something new.
Protip: To improve the quality even more, find the words that are semantically connected to your topic, and use those in the article. Follow these steps for semantic SEO and target the broader topic and just a narrow keyphrase.
Here’s the list of phrases we found. Those that are crossed out were included in the update.
An updated blog post also has an advantage in social media. You can quickly build a list of people to share it with on social media.
- Share it with people who shared the original (find them using BuzzSumo)
- Share it with anyone who linked to the original from their content (find them using Open Site Explorer)
- Share it with people who commented on the original
And of course, share it with your collaborators and people who are especially interested in the topic.
What were the results?
The updated post went live and was promoted through our newsletter and social channels, just like any new article. The impact was positive and immediate.
Let’s start with the engagement metrics in Analytics:
- Visitors spend 70% more time on the updated article than the older version. Not surprising since considering the added length and images.
- The bounce rate dropped 7%.
Next, let’s check the ranking. The downward trend reversed for every tracked keyphrase. The post moved from the bottom of page one to the top five positions across the board.
Finally, let’s look at traffic. After the spike of new email traffic, traffic settled down. And the new baseline is twice as much traffic as the older post
Will Updating older articles work for you?
This depends on a few criteria. If you can check these boxes, you’re ready to update and republish.
- You’ve been blogging for a few years
- Your content is educational, not news
- Your blog has a URL structure that doesn’t show the date of the post:
- BAD: webaddress.com/2016/08/article_name/
- GOOD: webaddress.com/blog/article_name/
Now go teach your old blog new tricks!
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