The Ultimate Guide for a Content Refresh

By refreshing your past content, you may trigger new performance results and drive traffic without having to write an entirely new article.

Digital marketing strategies place a lot of weight on content creation and generation. And, of course, this is a significant aspect of any content strategy.

But what about your already-published content that’s months, maybe even years old? Have you ever thought about revamping your existing content? By refreshing your past content, you may trigger new performance results and drive traffic without having to write an entirely new article.

Before we get into how to refresh your content, let’s review the basics to give you a better understanding of this practice and its importance.

What Does ‘Refreshing Content’ Mean?

“Content refresh” refers to the action of updating, editing and optimizing your existing content to maintain or boost its performance. You can revamp anything from blogs, thought-leadership posts and landing pages to guidebooks, knowledge bases, and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). Even your “evergreen” content needs to be updated periodically to keep it relevant.

How you revamp your content varies from piece to piece. It may include simple fixes like inserting visual elements, examples, actionable steps, navigation elements, etc. Or, more complex updates, such as changing the angle of the post altogether. 

So, when should you conduct a refresh? Here are some factors to consider:

  • Traffic plateaus or decreases
  • Ranking post drops in SERP
  • Conversion rates and leads decline
  • Major shift occurs in your industry
  • Searcher intent changes

Related Article: 5 Ways to Repurpose Outdated Content to Your Advantage

Why Is a Content Refresh Important?

A refresh strategy effectively increases your content’s metrics and overall performance by using the posts you already have. For example, Ben Kazinik, director of content at Mayple, used keyword optimization to take a post from 2,000 monthly views to 10,000 with just one refresh. 

Here’s a snapshot of the metrics you can improve with a content revamp:

  • Organic traffic
  • Search engine ranking page (SERP) position
  • Click-through rate (CTR)
  • Purchases or signups
  • Conversion rates
  • Lead generation and so on

Instead of letting all your old content decay over time, routine refreshes help your catalog stay up-to-date and valuable to readers. With this approach, you strengthen the platform’s authority, relevancy, and quality. 

What Content Should You Update?

The type of content you prioritize for a revamp depends on your company’s marketing goals. But, it’s important to note that not all your published content is worth updating. You have to let some posts go since they may not deliver as much value as they once did. 

For instance, your market research may indicate that a different buyer persona can bring more value to your business. You may then want to prioritize content to meet this persona’s needs instead of spending time updating content that targets low-end customers. In other words, you’d let your previous buyer persona’s content decay and put your effort into the content that will deliver higher value conversions. 

Another factor to consider when prioritizing content refreshes is the target page’s peak performance. Tijana Radivojevic, head of content marketing at DuoQ, recommended updating “posts that have performed well in the past, but are declining in traffic and rankings now.” Using this approach, Tijana’s team increased their client’s organic traffic by 80% over the course of a year (see below).

It’s tempting to target struggling posts to improve the dead weight on your website. But, targeting content that already has traction helps maintain the quality and position of your ranking posts. It might even be enough to push posts sitting at positions 5-10 to the top of SERP – increasing your organic traffic along the way. 

Related Article: Content Marketing: Develop Your Omnichannel Strategy in 9 Easy Steps

Does Updating Past Content Hurt Your Pages or Website?

It’s always possible that a post may not improve after a revamp. There are no definite rules when it comes to SEO and content refreshes. That’s why it’s essential to be intentional and thoughtful about your content revamp decisions. So, make sure you can afford the outcomes of any risks you’re considering. 

Here are some things to keep in mind when refreshing your content:

  1. Rewriting or changing a post too much can confuse Google on the intent of your article, dropping it in SERP. Consider leaving some original content intact if you plan on making significant changes — especially if the post is already performing well. 
  2. Ensure you’re giving your edits enough time to make an impact before introducing more changes. This way, you can easily track what’s working and what’s not.
  3. URL changes and redirects come with drawbacks, such as slow loading speeds, broken links, and more. So, evaluate if it’s worth changing your URL. Conduct an interlinking and backlinking analysis to see how many links would be affected by this change.
  4. Updating content that isn’t relevant to your business may end up hurting your website metrics. This is because readers are coming, reading and leaving your page instead of moving down the marketing funnel, gradually increasing your bounce rate. When ranking pages, Google takes into account that the article isn’t meeting the searcher’s intent and that your business isn’t an authority on the topic. 

How to Refresh Your Content

Now that we’ve covered all the necessary foundational knowledge of refreshing content, let’s get into how to perform a revamp.

1. Identify Target Posts

As stated earlier, targeting content with traffic and traction yields the best refresh results. But, you may be wondering how to narrow it down from there. There are two options for identifying target posts — a content audit or “spot treatment.” Let’s take a look at these two methods.

Content Audit

This option is time-consuming, requiring you to assess all the content on your website. The result is an in-depth overview of each piece in your catalog and how the content performed. So, you can see the strengths and weaknesses of your strategy and what posts might benefit from a refresh.

How you analyze and record your audit depends on the resources and tools accessible to you. My colleague, Meryl D’Sa-Wilson, content marketing manager at United World Telecom, offered her advice on how to approach a content audit. 

“It’s hard to keep track of what you’ve done without a comprehensive record,” she said. “So, I recommend thoroughly documenting your updating process according to your team’s specified benchmarks. Include edits made, optimization suggestions, prioritization, next steps, and so on. And if you have multiple people working on a content audit, this will help your team stay on the same page.”

Here’s an example of Meryl’s content audit documentation:

Spot Treatment

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