How Refreshing Old Content Could Be Your Quickest SEO Win
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Building backlinks, creating content and targeting new keywords all take several months of waiting before you see a noticeable difference in organic traffic.
Unlike paid ads that bring you traffic on the day of launch, SEO is a long-term strategy that needs time to compound.
But what if I told you there was a way to improve your search engine results page (SERP) rankings in just a few weeks by updating old content?
Google likes fresh content as it’s more relevant to the user. They have gone on record to state that they have a freshness algorithm that impacts around 35% of searches.
Updating old content can see pages shoot up several search positions in a matter of weeks, and in this article, we’re going to teach you how.
How to Select Which Pages to Update
The first step is to find web pages that have room for improvement. You can do this by using Google Analytics.
Log in to your dashboard and go to Acquisition > Search Console > Landing Pages. In the table below, you’ll see data for ‘Impressions’, ‘Clicks’, ‘Avg. Position’ and more against the Landing Page.
You’ll see something like this:
Note: You’ll need to have integrated your Google Search Console account with your Google Analytics account because this isn’t done automatically.
When you scroll down, you’ll be able to access a list of every page on your site and its average position on the SERP.
Google lists 10 search listings per page. I’d start by focusing on pages that are in the 10-30 position range (page two and three on Google search), as 71% of search traffic clicks go to those websites showing on the first page of Google only.
Gather a list of 10 pages that are in that region and then follow the tips below to update them.
How to Update Content to Improve SEO
Remember, Google is a complicated beast so when you update old content, its rankings can go down as well as up and are likely to fluctuate a little until it settles.
Google uses a number of other factors (not just freshness), such as time spent on the page, CTR, and impressions, to determine the quality of your update, so don’t assume your pages will go up after an update.
Here are three things we do when updating pages:
More Content (On-Page)
Ultimately, the best content (in theory) ranks at the top of the search, so adding more content to your pages is going to help.
SerpIQ found that the more words on a webpage, the higher its ranking on Google.
How many words is enough? Type in the keyword you’re ranking for, click on the first three articles ranked in Google and copy and paste the content into a Word document or Google Document as we’ve done here. Then check the word count.
Find the mean average between the three pages, and then ensure your page has 10-15% more words.
Alternatively, you could enter the keyword in our free Word Count Suggest Tool. It’ll tell you the average word count for the top 10 search results.
Again, you don’t want to update your content with fluff, so read other pages and blog comments that discuss your topic, and search for recent news stories to give you some ideas on what to add.
Content is not limited to text, so add more images and videos if they are relevant. Google crawl robots do factor in image and video content when re-crawling your page. Video versions of blog posts and targeted explainer style videos can help to increase dwell time which in turn, signals to Google that your web page contains rich content that is relevant to a user’s search query. In fact, pages with video are 50x more likely to rank on page 1 of Google!
Add More Keywords (On-Page)
Since your last update, you may have come across new long-tail keywords to target that you didn’t know about before.
We don’t suggest changing the seed keyword of the page as that will cause a lot of ranking volatility, but adding a few more long-tail keywords will help you to get more hits.
Update the Meta (On-Page)
Your listing click-through rate does influence how the page ranks on Google. Type your keyword into Google and review your page title and meta description against your competitors’.
Check your copy against theirs and ask yourself which of the two links provides more context for the keyword searched for.
The problem-solution method works well for meta descriptions.
The first meta description from bodybuilding.com is great, as it states the problem (natural muscle gain) and the solution (nine muscle gaining tips). The second listing doesn’t really hit home as hard, as the post doesn’t seem specific enough as it isn’t addressing a particular issue and the copy isn’t compelling enough to click.
If you follow these three simple tips, you’ll have updated your on-page and off-page SEO.
When updating on-page content, especially if you are adding more content you must ask yourself:
“Does this add more value to the reader?”
If the answer is no, then don’t add it. Simple. It’s not good practice to add content for content’s sake but instead, add content that will add value to the user.
When updating the meta data, ask yourself:
“Have I quantified what the searcher will learn from the title and meta description?”
If the answer is no, then keep working on it but remember to keep it clear, concise, and short enough to be within the character limit that Google displays.
How to Get Pages Indexed Faster
If you update your pages and leave it at that, Google can take weeks or months before revisiting your website and re-crawling your pages.
“Ain’t nobody got time for that.”
Within the Google Search Console, you can use the URL Inspection, which allows you to resubmit pages to Google for faster indexing.
You simply enter the URL you want to either index (if it’s a new page) reindex (if it’s existing) and click the ‘Request Indexing’ button.
Once it’s confirmed that the page can be indexed, you’ll see the following options:
From my own experience, Google will re-crawl your page pretty quickly (sometimes instantly), but it can take anywhere from a day to a week.
By using Google Search Console, you can monitor the progress of your updated pages by using the ‘Search Results’ report, checking when the data was ‘Last Updated’ and comparing the rankings by date.
You’ll need to wait 2-4 weeks from when Google re-crawls your page to gauge the results.
SEO isn’t just about creating new content; work done in the past needs to be revisited and updated to remain relevant for today’s search.
The Google search engine is a dynamic ecosystem, with page rankings that change all the time. If you don’t update older pages, then over time they will be pushed down further.
When was the last time you refreshed the content on your site?