You Can Teach Old Content New Tricks: How to Update Old Blogs for Increased ROI

You Can Teach Old Content New Tricks: How to Update Old Blogs for Increased ROI

Did you know you’re sitting on a veritable goldmine of content right now that’s just waiting to be rediscovered?
Hundreds, maybe thousands, of old blog posts could be languishing on your site — still vital but unnoticed.
Think about it. You’ve spent hours — maybe even days — carefully crafting these masterful pieces of content and now they’re relegated to the dust heap.
That’s unfortunate because they’ve got a lot of life still left in them. In fact, if you’ve been serious about content creation, those old posts probably dovetail nicely with your newer material.
In this nutshell guide, I’m going to show you how to update old blogs using just a little bit of TLC to add value for visitors to your site, drive organic traffic your way, and hit your return on investment (ROI) out of the ballpark. Ready?
Learn how to update old #blogs for huge returns in @JuliaEMcCoy's guide: 📈traffic, rankings, and profits. #contentmarketing #audit Click To Tweet
how to update a blog post for seo

How to Update Old Blogs — And Why You Should

In keeping with our subject, I’d like to refer back to one of our earlier posts that addressed why republishing old blog posts is a genius idea.
In this particular piece of content, Rachel (our head of social media) recapped and wrote about our #ContentWritingChat episode where the founder of Orbit Media, Andy Crestodina, gave us lots of good reasons to update old blog posts including this important point:
screenshot of andy crestodina's tweet about quality and efficiency in writing
So, if your editorial calendar is looking a bit hard to manage, update a few old posts and put them back in circulation while you whip up some clean, new information for future visitors.
Don’t be shy about serving up the older material, either. As Andy says:
screenshot of andy crestodina's tweet about old topics
And, we’ve always taught that you should focus on producing evergreen content — you know, the stuff that stays around forever because it’s that good?
Evergreen content is meant to be present — and useful — long after you first posted it. And from what industry voices say, this is true:

When I look at the traffic stats of any of my blogs, the vast majority of traffic each month goes to old posts. They’ve been shared more over time, have attracted more links and attract a lot of organic search traffic. —Neil Patel
We’ve increased the number of monthly organic search views of old posts we’ve optimized by an average of 106%. —Hubspot

If words aren’t enough to convince you, feast your eyes on this:
graph indicating that hubspot's "old" posts get lots of leads and views

Image from Hubspot

Who says old posts don’t have some tricks left in them? This statistic is literally screaming at you to revamp your old posts — tout de suite!
old content is your money content quote by julia mccoy

Quote: Content Strategy & Marketing Course

That’s right. Old content means money.
Are you ready to dust off those old posts yet? If so, read on for the how-to.
Why should you update your old blog posts? @JuliaEMcCoy discusses the benefits of breathing new life into old content for increased ROI. #contentmarketing Click To Tweet

The Old Blog Shuffle — Your 11-Step Checklist to Breathe New Life Into Old Posts & the 1 Thing Not to Change

Are you ready for the remodel? I’m going to walk you through a few important points and strategies for how to optimize old blog posts, so it will be totally intuitive for you by the time you get to the end of this article.
First, before we get into the eleven key points I’ve outlined, let’s jump right into the fire with a discussion on whether or not to use the original date of the post.

Save the Date?

You can find plenty of sites out there that advise you to change the date on a blog post once you’ve renewed it.
I disagree.
If you’ve got repeat visitors, they’re going to know your material isn’t really “new” because they’ve read it already — particularly if it’s the kind of impactful, high-quality content I’ve been teaching you to write.
It’s critically important to always be transparent with your audience. Transparency fosters trust and authority — and there’s nothing better than that for creating a strong relationship with your customers.
Besides, apparent dishonesty — like when you update old blogs and then pretend its brand-new material — can hurt you.
Google’s Gary Ilyes has this to say about date manipulation on blog posts:

“From our perspective, from Core Ranking perspective, I’d like to believe that in some way that will hurt you.  At least from, let’s say, we will not believe your dates anymore.”

Google's own .methode says date manipulation could 'hurt you.' More on how to update older #content in our guide Click To Tweet
If Google’s opinion on this isn’t strong enough for you, here’s a screenshot of a response to Airbnb’s fake dating process:
tweet about airbnb putting date in meta to fake content freshness

Image: Search Engine Journal

Besides, my advice to be transparent and publish with the original date works.
How do I know?
We’ve updated old content transparently and achieved serious ROI from doing so, like with this recent gargantuan SEO guide I updated:
how to update old blog posts screenshot
We earned nine new backlinks and more than 20 new comments on this piece alone. When we hit publish on the new content, we were transparent both about the new date and the original date we created the piece.
how to update old blog posts screenshot
So, when it comes to fudging the dates — let’s not, okay? Be honest, be truthful, and reap the benefits. Alright then, moving on to the mechanics.
Republishing old content? Before you do, read this post. @JuliaEMcCoy shares best practices and expert tips to follow when updating old blog posts. #contentmarketing Click To Tweet

Nip and Tuck or Complete Facelift? 11 Factors to Know About How to Update Older Content (Correctly)

Want a handful of ways to update old blogs like a champ? Choose one or more of these to take your posts from boring to blockbuster in no time.

1. Use Your Metrics

The best way to determine which content pieces will give you more bang for your buck is to take a close look at your metrics using SEMrush.
Their Content Analyzer feature will allow you to compare the performance of various posts, so you can choose the most productive content to repurpose.
You might also want to check posts with declining engagement, as these can be updated and remade to increase their performance.
Look carefully at trends. Did a post start off like gangbusters and slowly lose engagement over time? These are prime candidates for a blog post redo.

2. Improve Your Image

The featured image on your post is the thing that shows up when it’s shared, so make sure it’s relevant, eye-catching, and current.
Include alt-tags on images that help define the material covered in the post, too, for extra ranking power.

3. Manage Your Meta

They’re short, then they’re long, then they’re short again.
While you have no idea what Google’s going to do next, you can refresh your meta descriptions for improved click-through. Not to mention, refreshing your meta is a fast and easy way to give a boost to your site’s rankings.

4. Nail the Headline

Lots of blog posts have a number in the headline, such as, “5 Tips for Keeping Your Site Relevant” or whatnot. If you’re updating your content by adding tips to your list, make sure you change that number.
Also, make sure your title hooks the reader by letting them know you’ve got something they are definitely going to want to read. Adjust the title and character length as necessary for best results.
screenshot highlighting the significance of the post's title

Image: Neil Patel

And, if you’re using a different keyword strategy, then change up your headline with your updated keyword(s).

5. Update SEO

Updating SEO is a great way to breathe new life into those old posts. When learning how to update a blog post for SEO, consider redoing a keyword search on your post to make sure your old keywords are still ranking.
Perhaps your old post ranked for a short-tail keyword and a long-tail version suits your purposes better. Rewrite your content to reflect this change and give yourself an SEO advantage with more targeted content.

6. Make It a Series

A great way to update old posts is to make them the first in a series, following each up with high-quality new information that packs a punch.
screenshot of series posts on wired

Image: Search Engine Journal

Serializing posts also lets you reuse your original title (with “Part 2” added) to build momentum on your old, evergreen content sources.

7. Grab ‘Em with Graphics

Has your company been rebranded? You might need to change your color scheme or logo on your old posts.
Do some of your graphics look, well, vintage (and not in a good way)? Sharpen them up with a quick makeover using up-to-date techniques.
Or, take the whole article and turn it into an infographic for a fantastic redo that’s not only attention-grabbing but useful for visitors who want snackable content.
screenshot showing the effectiveness of infographics

Image: Quicksprout

And if you want to be remembered, infographics are the way to go. It must be why they’re shared three times more than other content on social media.

8. Leverage Video

Statistics show people love embedded videos — and so does Google. In fact, blog posts that include video can garner three times more inbound links!
And you don’t have to shoot your own videos — just embed them.
chart showing video rankings

Image via Stone Temple

This chart confirms that 88% of the videos for pages with Google rankings 1-10 come straight from YouTube. This is an incredibly easy way to boost your ranking and update old posts at the same time.

9. Internalize the Info

You’ve created a whole lot of content since you first wrote your old posts.
Add some internal links to other, relevant info in your blog or in updated site pages to keep readers engaged with your other content.

10. But Be Outgoing, Too

Did you use new research or information in your update? Link to it to refresh your connections.
Above all, make sure your content doesn’t have any broken backlinks in it that can hurt your Google ranking. There are several free tools to help you correct this issue on your site, including this one:
check for broken links screenshot
There’s also a free broken link checker tool you can add to your Chrome browser to help you find and correct these links.
How often should you republish old blog posts? @JuliaEMcCoy answers this and other questions in this information-packed how-to blog post. #contentmarketing Click To Tweet

11. Reconfigure Text

Depending on how long ago you wrote your post, you might want to break up long blocks of text that make it harder for visitors to read.

12. Charge Up That Call-to-Action (CTA)

Now’s the time to amplify your CTA or at least be sure it’s still relevant. You may have created new gated content since the blog was first published, so this might be an opportunity to feature it.
When we revamped one of our blog posts, we added our new CTA at the bottom:
new express writers cta
Choose a graphic element that sets off the CTA even better and grabs interest as well.

The One Thing Not to Change: The URL-y Bird Gets the Worm

Now that you’ve updated that content, should you change the URL?
I typically recommend not to, just because you don’t want to inadvertently create any broken links anywhere.
However, here’s what you should know.
If your post drove lots of traffic, you can benefit from leaving the URL as it is in order to retain the SEO advantage.
But, if your post views are low, a new URL could rejuvenate traffic, as a shorter URL tied to stronger, high-volume keywords can be beneficial.

How Often to Plan on Republishing Old Blog Posts

Every site has those rock-star posts that drive engagement.
But even if they’re still flying high, it’s important to keep old blog posts updated if the material begins to lose relevance. That means revisiting posts on a yearly basis to keep your data shiny and new.
Don’t go crazy, though. You want to have a nice mix of seasoned and brand-new material online to give visitors a feel for your site’s longevity to bolster authority.
Be smart about the ratio of republished blogs versus original blogs. There needs to be a balance of new and updated posts, so don’t stop publishing original content while you update your old stuff.
It’s still critical to publish posts frequently to get the most out of traffic, so remember to keep your posting frequency high for best results.
graph showing the effect of posting frequency on leads

What Can You Expect from a Blog Post Makeover?

Learning how to refresh old blog posts is the perfect way to squeeze even more ROI from your high-performing posts and evergreen content.
Not only that, but revitalizing your old content helps keep your site up-to-date, on-trend, and in plain sight of Google’s site crawlers.
Keeping your content evergreen by updating facts and figures helps establish authority, and being transparent about your publishing date fosters trust — letting your visitors know you’re a safe, knowledgeable source of the information they want and need.
And remember, updating old posts isn’t just a chore — it’s a vital part of content strategy, so don’t ignore it.
quote on content strategy by julia mccoy

Quote: Content Strategy & Marketing Course

And hey, if you need some help coming up with new keywords or breathing some life back into your old content, we’ve got a crazy-good team of content professionals standing by.