According to Content Marketing Institute, at least 60% of all new content doesn’t perform. This is a statistic that strikes fear into content marketers because it means that most of their efforts are wasted. But it also points to another route for new content creation. Sometimes it’s better to recycle your old material. But for the most effectiveness, it has to be done right.
How do you update an old post without confusing your readers, screwing up any SEO gains with older well-performing content, and avoid any possible Google penalties? Read on to find out.
Keeping readers in the loop
If your Google Analytics reports say that an older piece of content is getting an uptick in hits, even if it has a high bounce rate, that’s a sign to pay attention. Go back to the old piece of content and read it with fresh eyes. Is the information still relevant or correct? Can it be tightened up or expanded upon? Most likely, it can.
But don’t delete the old post. Update it. Your readers are finding the old content. If you delete the old information, you’ve shut off that path to your website. Instead, update the post. Be smart about it.
It’s tempting just to make a new post, but if the information between the two posts is largely the same, or if you use the same title and keywords, Google might think that it’s duplicated content. Your content doesn’t have to be word-for-word to get hit with a duplication penalty.
When you change an older post around for an update, you’ll need to retain three things. You need to keep the same URL, the same title, and the same keywords. Everything else can change. This keeps the SEO value of the old record while still giving your readers new information.
Another thing you should do is put a small note at the top saying that the content has been updated and the date of the update. Do the same thing down in your comment feed. That way a new reader will know what’s going on.
Doing an overhaul
But what if the information needs to be substantially different? If you keep the same title and URL but totally change the body copy, Google might penalize you. Doing a bait-and-switch on webpage content is an old black-hat SEO trick that Google won’t tolerate. Keep at least the keywords you have in the title in your body to minimize the risk.
If the old post needs an absolute overhaul, put a big banner at the top of your outdated post redirecting people to the new information. They may have to click one more time to get to the new content, but they’ll also see that you’re paying attention to your old stuff.
Whether you update the same post using the same SEO markers or use a redirection banner to guide people to new content, give the new information 30 days before you draw any new conclusions.
If you’re struggling for new topics and you know you have some older pieces that performed well, or if an older piece is getting a sudden uptick in views, try updating an older piece with fresh information.