Time and again, blog posts have proven to be one of the top ways for customers to find you on their own terms. They also allow you to establish your brand as a trusted expert in your field. However, a common oversight people tend to make is creating blogs and then simply letting them fade into the ether after they hit “Publish.”
That strategy of “set it and forget it” is the last thing you want to do with your blog. Below, you’ll find a breakdown of the whys and how of updating the blog content you already have on your site.
Why Old Blog Posts Are Worth Their Weight in Gold
Experts have been talking about the value of optimizing older blog posts for years now. Even among my own clients, their earliest posts tend to perform the best over time, attract the most visitors, and boast some of the highest conversions. This is in part because older posts have had more time to be discovered and potentially backlinked from other reputable sources, which is the Holy Grail of marketing.
Updating your oldest blog posts can show search engines and the people using them that you’re creating new content while providing valuable, up-to-date information. That way, you’re able to establish your brand as an industry thought leader without having to start from scratch every time the subject becomes relevant.
How Updating Old Blog Posts Helps Your Business for Less
It’s easy to forget how long it can take to create a blog post from start to finish. Between developing the topics you wish to cover, researching and providing sources, actually writing the thing, taking time to edit so you don’t have any glaring spelling mistakes, adding keywords, and uploading the post to your CMS of choice, the whole process can take a few days to complete. That’s also assuming the person writing the post doesn’t have other responsibilities they have to handle during the week.
Updating old blog posts cuts out most of the legwork in that process, because the blog is already published. After all, even if you’re adding a section with new information or further optimizing the piece for search engines, it takes far less time to add that content to your blog than it does to start the entire process over from scratch.
Even more, that value extends to your site’s overall reputation. Blog posts that have a lot of activity are more likely to be used as a backlink, so updating these posts with the latest information keeps them relevant as a resource.
Which Blog Posts Should Be Updated?
While any blog post can and should be updated in theory, provided it’s related to your industry or business, in practice there are certain types of posts you should revisit first.
However, you don’t necessarily have to revisit a piece from 2015 to reap the benefits of updating old content. Depending on the timeliness of the content and context, you could potentially update blogs that are less than a year old.
For example, suppose your team published a blog post in 2019 promoting your custom clothing store that teaches people how to take measurements for suits and dresses for their next formal event. By the time 2020 rolled around, it would have been appropriate to add a section about how even if events are canceled due to global events, knowing how to take measurements is an important skill that allows you to find appropriate clothing sizes when online shopping or mending your pieces.
This is far from the only time when updating a blog post would be appropriate. Other examples might include updating when there’s a new breakthrough in research or software, adding information about a new product line, adding relevant late-breaking news that changes the context of the blog, and more.
Tips for Updating Old Blog Posts
Figuring out what to change within a blog post can be a daunting task, and it’s easy to go overboard or even not change enough to move the needle. These are some tips to consider while you’re looking for your blog’s “Goldilocks Zone.”
1. Narrow down which blog posts you should update first
It’s safe to say you probably don’t have to update that post you created as a press release in 2015 about an event that happened that winter. That would be a waste of time and resources that your team could be using elsewhere.
What you should update, however, are pages that have a lot of high-quality backlinks, organic traffic, or are close to but not ranking on the first page of search results. Those posts are likely to have the greatest opportunities for you to close the gap.
If you use HubSpot to host your blog, you can use its analytics tools to determine how much traffic your posts receive. Tools like Moz, Google Analytics and SEMrush can also be helpful for making a shortlist of blogs to update.
2. Don’t change the post too much
Your goal with updating a blog post should be to add value or provide insight that wasn’t there before, rather than changing the post altogether. A complete overhaul can negatively affect your SEO and undo the work you’ve done to get your blog on the first page of Google’s results.
Conversely, if you’re in a position where research or positioning on the topic of your blog has changed significantly—for example, if your blog deals with anything in science or technology—it’s valuable to update the blog regardless.
3. Optimize the post on the back end
The rules for staying up to date with SEO change more often than some of my cousins change clothes. Chances are, some of your oldest posts could use a second look at their meta tags. Update the meta description, take the opportunity to add appropriate alt text to your blog images, and maybe take out a few of those H1 tags you put in there four years ago thinking a page should have more than one. You’ll be surprised at how much of a difference those small optimization steps can make.
4. Update the visual media
Did your original post have an outdated featured image, or maybe even no images at all? Maybe your marketing team has expanded its capabilities to include video. Either way, updating your blog post to include a relevant embedded video or updated photos of your product are easy, meaningful ways to refresh the content.
5. Update old blog posts on a regular basis
While it might be a little unrealistic to update old content every week, most experts aim to do so at least once per quarter, if not once per month. This allows your blog to capture new impressions long after its initial publish date, providing opportunities to capture new conversions.
While your strategy for updating old blog posts depends on your team’s capabilities and availability, experts agree there is understated value in doing it regularly. It allows new prospects to find you on their own time, lending your team the chance to find new prospects and customers months or years after you published your post.