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Why Should You Update Your Old Content?

Most content fails. All content eventually diminishes in value. Here are 10 reasons why updating your older content offers big benefits for minimal effort.

Why Should You Update Your Old Content?

Your content has an expiration date. In general, 95 percent of the content you create will get most of its traffic within the first two to three days of publishing.

Content can become “old” within just a few weeks in some industries, while some types of content may continue to drive solid traffic for anywhere from 3-5 years before, inevitably, you’ll see diminishing returns.

With old content, you’ll eventually have a choice: you can either remove or update it. Here are 10 smart reasons why you should update that older content.

1. Your CTR Is Terrible

Google Search Analytics example

Head into the Google Search Console and check your Search Analytics. If the click-through rate is really low for certain pieces of content, that’s a clear indicator that you need to update your content.

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Look at your title and description. Make sure it contains relevant keywords but is also interesting and eye-catching for people quickly scanning the search results. Use words that are more likely to attract clicks.

2. Your Content Isn’t Written Well


Have you ever rushed out a piece of content without editing it (and editing it again) and never looked back? Publishing poorly written content (e.g., contains glaring typos or grammatical issues) is an easy way to lose the trust of your audience.

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However, the great thing is nothing lasts forever online. Re-read your poorly-performing content (or hire a good proofreader/editor). Improve the language. Cut the crap. Make it punchier. Make it more readable.

3. Your Content Is Getting Little/No Search Traffic

Check your analytics to see which posts are bringing in little (or no) search traffic. You may be surprised what you find.

Doing absolutely nothing won’t help your content magically rise in the SERPs. So make a list, prioritize which content has the most potential value, and start updating those first!

4. Your Content Contains Outdated Information

Outdated content = bad content. Even if your content is driving decent traffic, you should make sure all your content is up to date.

Failing to update content reflects poorly on your brand – don’t you care enough to provide your audience with accurate information? It’s also bad for the people who land on it – when you give people wrong information or answers, they’ll definitely blame you for it.

5. To Add Or Remove Links

Fix Your Links

If your content links to resources on other sites, make sure the links still work. It’s super annoying to click on a link only to discover some variation of the “whoops, that page can’t be found” message.

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You can also update your older content simply to link to other resources on your own site. It’s a great opportunity to link to other pages that didn’t exist when you published your old piece.

6. To Add Important Updates

Sometimes you don’t have all the information when you publish something. This is especially true in news, where being first or fast is essential. You continue to reach out to sources. Stories continue to evolve. Sometimes facts come out days or weeks later.

If you publish this type of content, add updates, whether you call it an editor’s note, a post-script, or simply an update. You can indicate this by adding a note near the beginning or at the end of the post.

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7. To Add Images Or Videos

Dog cat selfie

Is your content all words? Add some visual appeal. Visuals help readers process new information and ideas, increase engagement, and can help readers remember you.

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Adding visual content is also great for readability – it breaks up long blocks of text, which can send readers fleeing toward the back button in terror. Just make the visuals you add are relevant, useful, and help tell your story – you should never add boring visuals just for the sake of adding visuals.

8. You Can Give Your Content A Second Life

Not every article will be a home run. Sometimes great content gets ignored. It could be for any number of reasons – you didn’t promote your content enough, your content was poorly optimized, nobody had heard of your brand/website at the time it published, or maybe people simply didn’t need your content then.

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If you’ve invested a good amount of resources into creating what you consider to be a great piece of content, there’s a good chance you’ve gone wrong somewhere along the way. Go back, reevaluating where and why it went wrong, and rehabilitate it.

9. You’ll Help More People Discover Your Content

Updating and republishing your content gives you another chance to help people discover it. Promote it in your email newsletter. Promote it on social media (if you have the budget, invest in social ads to increase your reach).

The odds are that the people who discover it and share it now missed it the first time around. Promote your content if you want more people to see it.

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10. Updating Content Works

As one example, conducted a republishing experiment. They instructed their writers to update and republish a total of 88 articles over five days.

“So we changed the text to be up-to-date and accurate,” according to Vox’s Matthew Yglesias. “We changed the headline if the writer felt the old headline didn’t work very well. We added new information. We added new ideas. We rewrote sections that dragged. The result was that some pieces went up virtually identical to their original form. Others bordered on unrecognizable.”

The result: the updated articles earned 500,000 page views. So yes, updating content does work.

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Most content fails. All content eventually diminishes in value. That’s why updating your old content has so many benefits with pretty minimal effort.

Updating your content can result in better search rankings, more links, more traffic, social shares, and new customers discovering you. Just don’t forget about the “marketing” in “content marketing”!


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Danny Goodwin

Executive Editor at Search Engine Journal

Danny Goodwin is Executive Editor of Search Engine Journal. In addition to overseeing SEJ's editorial strategy and managing contributions from ... [Read full bio]

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