How to Update Old Content: Your Ultimate Guide to More ROI

How to Update Old Content: Your Ultimate Guide to More ROI From Every Old Piece

by | Feb 9, 2021 | SEO

You’ve done it! You have a great site, and you’ve had a ton of traffic.

…But lately, your viewership has begun to slip.

The anxiety starts to sink in as you rack your brain for fresh, new content. And you wonder, “What do I do now?”

No need to panic! It turns out, you’re in luck.

If you need time to get those creative juices flowing before you start on that awesome new piece, there’s a solution you might have overlooked.

What is it?

Your own, already-published content. That old content sitting in your archives! ?

That’s right. There’s a gold mine right beneath your feet — you’re sitting on old content that could be incredible with a little glow-up and some tweaking.

You might ask, “But how do I update old content?”

Fear not. It’s easier than it sounds.

In today’s blog I’ll show you, step by step, the best ways to update your old content to create massive ROI. Ready? Let’s get into it.

how to update old content

How to Update Old Content and Create Massive ROI

Why Update Old Content?

How to Update Old Content: 6 Essential Steps

  1. Find the Right Content to Update (Audit Your Content)
  2. Edit and Update Inaccuracies, Typos, & Wording
  3. Check for Broken Links & Outdated Research
  4. Craft a New Headline
  5. Update the Images and Copy in Your Content
  6. Finesse the Meta Content & CTAs

Republishing: How to Show Off Your Updated Content

  • How to Republish Content in WordPress
  • Should You Change the URL?
  • Updated Content is New Content

Make Your Old Content Sparkle

It pays to focus on creating irresistible new content. But never forget - your old content deserves some extra love, too! @JuliaEMcCoy lays out 6 steps to a flawless old content makeover. ✨ Click To Tweet

Why Update Old Content?

You might be thinking here — “But, my content is already perfect and I’ve had a ton of views. Why should I change it?”

The truth is, if you’re not updating your old blogs, you’re missing out on more traffic to those posts and more potential new readers and leads.

Returning to those killer posts you’ve already spent time and money on is an essential part of improving the ROI and the quality of your site.

For our own Write Blog, we’ve updated old content transparently and achieved serious ROI from doing so, like with this gargantuan SEO guide:

updated content piece

We earned nine new backlinks and more than 20 new comments on this piece alone after we updated it.

As you can see, revitalizing your old content helps keep your site up-to-date, on-trend, and in plain sight of Google’s site crawlers.

But what about your loyal readers? Trust me, they will thank you for being a reliable resource for the latest and greatest content.

Blogs are now the 5th most trusted source for online information. By staying up to date on the latest information and revamping your old content, readers know they can count on you to keep them in the loop.

Besides, you’ve already invested the time and effort to create them, why not make them all that they can be?

Source: Andrea La-Rosa

Think of it this way…

You know that hairstyle your dad or your uncle rocked for years?


Well… It’s not quite on-trend anymore.

Blog posts are a similar situation. You can still love them, but times have changed and so has the information online.

It’s likely that, no matter the topic, there exists new and potentially better information about that subject you so diligently researched.

So, stay on trend! Schedule in the time for researching and updating, and see what else has surfaced since you posted.

How to Update Old Content: 6 Essential Steps

Okay, I’ve convinced you. You’ve decided to refresh your old blog posts.

But should you start now? And if not now, when?

Everyone asks me this question! The answer is, if you have two or more years worth of content, and you haven’t updated anything within that time frame, you’re missing out on valuable leads that could become conversions.

Make it a priority to schedule time to update your blogs every quarter. I recommend updating at least 5-10 pieces per quarter for optimal results.

This adds up to some serious ROI if you make the commitment.

If you’ve decided the time is now, get your editing pickaxe in hand. ⛏️ Let’s take a look at your previous masterpieces to see what’s worth updating.

how to update old content - 6 steps

1. Find the Right Content to Update (Audit Your Content)

A great place to begin a content audit is Google Analytics.

There you can find metrics like bounce rate, social shares, and time-on-page. These will help you determine which previous posts are the best-performing, and thus worth updating.

To start, open your Google Analytics account. On the left-hand side, go to Behavior.

Then, click the Overview button. Next, navigate to the bottom right of the page and click view full report in the bottom right-hand corner.

On the next screen, there will only be 10 posts by default. You can change this by going to the bottom of the page and editing the Show rows option to any number you like: 100, or even 5,000.

Then, return to the top of the page and click Export.

Boom! You now have a perfectly organized list of your posts.

From here, look closely to determine which posts have the highest conversion rates, the largest amount of traffic, and the lowest bounce rate.

These are your golden nuggets that keep visitors engaged.

But what if you don’t use Google Analytics, or what if all your posts have similar stats? Not a problem — there are other ways to determine which posts you should focus on.

One way is looking at which of your posts are evergreen.

Evergreen content is content that will provide unique value for your visitors, generate traffic, and result in conversions for the foreseeable future.

If you’re unsure what falls into that category, think about the pieces that took you some time to craft. Examples include how-to guides, frequently asked question posts, and resource lists.

2. Edit and Update Inaccuracies, Typos, & Wording

After the sifting and searching, you now have a handful of great posts ready to be updated.

And, wow! What a treasure trove you’ve discovered.

Although the hard work may seem like it’s over, don’t stop there. It’s time to refine your posts into something even better.

To begin, choose the first blog to update and read it carefully.

Do you still love it? Are any of the facts outdated?

Did you cringe at any of your wording?

Are there any typos?

If so, start the process by fixing those small imperfections. These minor changes can mean the difference between conversions and a high bounce rate.

Also, keep in mind that your writing style may have changed over time. Try to edit the piece so that it reflects your current style.

And as you read, don’t forget to take formatting into consideration.

If your blog was a bit clunky or if there were a few too many large blocks of text that don’t exactly scream “Read me!”, think about breaking those sections up.

By creating easier-to-digest sections, it will pull your reader through your piece and encourage them to keep reading.

If you’re unsure about how to do that, check out these 6 simple tips for writing clear sentences for more ways to get the most out of your blog’s structure.

Once you’ve accomplished the basics, it’s time to dig even deeper.

What else should you check in your old blog post before hitting update? Make sure to look for typos, format errors, outdated stats, broken links, and see to it that the piece reflects your current writing style. ✔✔✔ Click To Tweet

Unlearn Essay Writing

3. Check for Broken Links & Outdated Research

A few issues that can happen with older blog posts: You might be linking to content that no longer exists, or the topic and discussion may not be as relevant as when you originally posted. This can increase your bounce rate, plus, citing outdated research can significantly hurt your position as an “expert” in the field.

To see if this is the case for your piece, try checking for broken links by using tools like this free broken link checker.

If you find any links that lead you to a 404 page or to outdated posts, update them with the relevant content or simply remove them.

This lets Google know you’re on top of it and makes it more likely that your content will rank higher.

If your links are still as bright and shiny as when you first posted, consider adding new external ones.

  • Can you find new research that wasn’t available before? If so, linking to those articles can boost your credibility and increase your viewership.
  • Better than adding external links is adding internal links to your content. You likely wrote another article that relates and can help provide additional resources. Add that link in! It just might be the information your readers were looking for.

I know when I’m reading a piece that has already grabbed my attention I almost always click on their links to check out what other gems they have waiting for me. By adding internal links, you not only encourage your readers to remain on your site but it also increases the likelihood that they will share your work.

First thing to check on that old blog post? All those links! You'll want your post to be clear of links leading to 404s and outdated pages. ✅ Read more tips here on how you can update old content. Click To Tweet

4. Craft a New Headline

According to a Microsoft study, the average attention span has fallen to a mere eight seconds. Eight seconds is all you have to captivate your audience and convince them to stay.

For this reason, it’s imperative to examine your title to ensure it’s the best it can be — it’s your first and sometimes only opportunity to engage your reader.

Once you think you’ve got something eye-catching, don’t simply trust your gut. Give it a test run.

To do so, try the AMI Institute’s EMV Headline Analyzer. It’s a useful tool for any writer that ranks your headline according to how well it resonates with your audience based on three key types of appeal: intellectual, emotional or spiritual.

It also gives you a percentile score which indicates how powerful your title is. Most professional copywriters’ headlines will fall between 30%-40% range, while the most talented will have a 50%-75% score. Test yours to see where you land. If it’s not quite right, keep trying.

Here’s an example of a Write Blog headline hitting a 46.15% score:

emv headline analyzer example

If you’re stuck and need more help, check out my video on writing killer headlines for more tips.

5. Update the Images & Copy in Your Content

If your blog is mostly text and there are little to no images, you may want to consider adding a few more. Images help the reader stay actively engaged by breaking up content.

They’re even more important in terms of memory and recall. One study found that, after three days, participants could only remember 10% of information they heard. But, when that information was paired with an image, participants were able to remember 65% of it.

why images in content are important


This is why images are a huge component of any successful blog’s goal to maintain viewership.

Source: Ethos3

And, what’s better than an image? An infographic.

Infographics can help you show off incredible statistics, like the one above, in a simple format that will impress your readers and make them more likely to share your content.

If your blog is fun and lighthearted, you might try adding GIFs. They make a perfect pair to content that makes readers laugh out loud.

Just keep in mind that page load time is also a factor. If your post already takes a moment to pop up, you may want to reconsider using them.

Very few readers will wait a full 10 seconds to begin reading.

Think about the copy itself, too. If you have typos, content and quality issues, now is the time to address all of those. Quality in writing goes a long way in convincing and converting a reader.

Enhance your old content's readability ️‍by adding attractive yet informative images. ? Besides keeping those long posts easier to read, they help readers recall information better. Click To Tweet

6. Finesse Your Meta Content & CTAs

There are two final components of any successful content update. These are your meta content and your call to action, or CTA.

Meta Titles and Descriptions

Your meta content is a combination of two items — your meta title and meta description.

The meta title is the headline that appears on search pages when users search for you or any content related to your site.

Your meta description is the small blurb beneath your site’s title on Google’s search page which tells readers what they’re about to click on.

The critical meta title and description are a must for optimal SEO. These can also be the deciding factor between a user clicking on your site or choosing one of the thousands of others available to them.

While there are many strategies regarding how to optimize, the main goal is to be specific.

In the example above, our meta title is Why Blog? 52 Incredible Blogging Statistics to Inspire YouThis is highly specific to our topic and interesting to the reader. Bonus: It has numbers! Numbers are great to draw readers’ eyes.

If your post is about options for gardening services in Southern California, the meta title should not be something generic. For example, “Gardeners for Your Home” is an extremely weak meta title. A better option is one that is not only location-specific, (e.g. Southern California) but one that also includes keywords. “How to Find the Best Gardener in Southern California: 5 Steps to a Great Partnership” is not only specific but contains all of the keywords associated with your content.

This lets both the reader and search engines know precisely what your site contains. By using targeted language, it increases the chance that you will rank higher and viewers will choose your site.

Your meta description should also be similarly crafted. It is an extension of your title and should contain a small snapshot of carefully selected keywords and phrases that relate to your page’s topic.

Want an in-depth guide on how to write powerful meta descriptions? Check out our blog on how to write meta content.

Calls-to-Action, or CTAs

The last and arguably most important factor for creating conversions through your content is your call-to-action, or CTA.

These can be placed within a sentence, like the one above, on a button on your site, or on a pop-up window within your blog that encourages the reader to take action in some way.

Businesses spend countless dollars each year researching how to effectively leverage the color, position, and wording of their CTAs so they can get their customers to the next section of their sales funnel.

Here’s an example:

Each of these two buttons is a CTA, but they both have one goal: Transform a visitor into a customer. The only difference lies in the wording. One focuses on stoking enthusiasm and curiosity, “Everyone loves us.” The other acts as a mirror, encouraging you to “Try it now.”

While using scarcity to induce a feeling of FOMO is effective — like “Buy now before we run out” — what’s more effective is knowing your audience.

Why? Because it fits their brand and their product. By knowing who your readers are and what they want, you can craft CTAs that are lightyears ahead of the average “Buy now,” button. Then, sit back and watch the conversions roll in.

By creating an enticing CTA within rather than just hoping a reader will take action, the chances increase exponentially that they will like, subscribe, or purchase that ebook you worked so hard on.

If you need some inspirational tips on how to write a CTA that’s guaranteed to generate conversions, check out our blog about how to write a sensational CTA after you finish here.

See what we did there?

Never miss adding CTAs, or calls-to-action, to your blogs. CTAs invite readers to your next desired step such as subscribing to your newsletter, purchasing an item, or just reading another post to keep them hooked on your site! ? Click To Tweet

Republishing: How to Show Off Your Updated Content

Congratulations, you’ve done it!

You braved the journey into your content gold mine and came out with some incredible pieces. After a bit of hard work, they are now gleaming. ?

Now comes the fun part: republishing your updated content and sharing it with the world.

How to Republish Content in WordPress

Republishing your updated content is a relatively simple process in WordPress. Here’s the way we do it for the Write Blog. (There are probably a lot of ways to approach republishing old content, but this one is simple and works well for us.)

First, navigate to the blog post you’re updating in your WordPress dashboard. (If you have hundreds of blog posts, or even over 1,000 like we do on the Write Blog, you’ll need to do a search to find the right post.)

Hover over the post title with your mouse pointer. Click “Edit.”

edit post

The next screen will display your WordPress editor of choice — the Classic editor or the new Block editor. You’ll be able to tell you’re in editing mode by what you see at the top of the screen. In Classic editor, you’ll see “Edit Post.”

wordpress classic editor

And in Block editor, if you click on the pencil at the top left of the screen (“Modes”), you’ll see you’re in edit mode.

wordpress block editor

Note: You are now editing a live blog post — one that’s already published. It’s important to keep the post live and NOT unpublish the post or set it back to “draft” form. If your post is quite old and already has an SEO presence, this is purposeful, so you don’t lose your rankings, break any links, or create a 404 error.

Edit and update the post according to our six steps outlined above. As you update, to save your changes, continually hit the “Update” button. Don’t worry about anyone potentially seeing the post mid-update. If the post is old, the likelihood is small.

wordpress publish status

Once you’re finished editing, it’s time to republish your post so it appears at the top of your blog. Go to the line that says “Published on:” and hit “Edit.”

wordpress post edit published date

Change the date to the current one (or change the publish date to whenever you want the new post to appear). Make sure to set the time, too! Then hit “OK” and the “Update” button to save your changes.

wordpress edit published date


And that’s it! Your updated content should now appear at the top of your blog. Anyone following your blog via RSS feed should see it show up in their blogroll, too.

Should You Change the URL?

Now that you’ve updated that content, should you change the URL?

As a general rule, I recommend NOT changing the URL of updated posts, just because you don’t want to inadvertently create any broken links anywhere.

However, each situation is different.

If your post drove lots of traffic before the update, you’ll definitely benefit from leaving the URL as-is to retain your SEO advantage. (Think backlinks and Google rankings.)

But, if your post views are low or nonexistent, a new URL could rejuvenate traffic, as a shorter URL tied to stronger, high-volume keywords can be beneficial. This video from Surfside PPC explains the logic in greater detail:

Updated Content is New Content

Once your content has been republished, it’s time to share on social media.

If you’re worried your audience won’t respond to the post because technically they’ve already seen it, stop and relax. It’s important to remember that this is not the same content anymore. You’ve transformed it into something useful and relevant.

It’s also good to keep in mind that the value of your blog is not in the immediate viewership achieved but in the potential thousands who will visit in the future.

By following our simple steps above to keep your blog updated, you’ll boost your visitor count and earn consistently higher traffic numbers to your content.

Make Your Old Content Sparkle

If you’re still looking for new ways to update your old content after doing all of the tips above, consider a few of these extra steps to repurpose it.

  • Do you have a podcast or will you be featured in one soon? Think about how you can integrate your piece into the recording or mention it as a resource.
  • Do you have a YouTube channel? Try rewriting your content as a video script or mentioning a small snippet to encourage listeners to give it a read.
  • If you have an active email campaign that keeps your readers engaged with your site, use it to show off work they may not have seen yet. Take an excerpt from the post you’re revamping and include it in your next newsletter. Then, create a CTA that encourages readers to “Check out the whole article” and provide a link.

Remember, updating your old content gives it brand-new life. So go out there, find your old content gems, and give them the glow-up they deserve. They’ll shine brighter than ever with a little TLC. ?

Need some professional pens on your new and old content? We can help with that.

how to update old content CTA