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I hate to break it to you fellow Content Marketer, but that blog that you're writing might not be as effective as you think

It's not your fault! That's just the nature of the game with digital marketing.

A majority of your blog articles will get most of their traffic from the first few days of being live. As such, your "evergreen blogs" will only be relevant for so long.

Of course, you could write an article that drives significant traffic for years, but that traffic will eventually see a diminishing return. It will eventually get to a point where it falls off the 1st page of Google SERPs.

Does this mean that you're bad at digital marketing? The short answer to that question is "No!" The long answer is that you're just not updating your content enough!

Read on to see the primary reasons why you should be updating content, how to tell if you need to update your content, and how to actually update your articles.

Why You Should Update Your Content

Your website content should never be created with a 'set it and forget it' attitude.

In fact, you should always be looking at what blog articles, website pages, and even landing pages are the most effective. This means that you can evaluate website content by overall visits, organic traffic generated, or even conversions. 

With that understanding, you can make your old content pieces even better than they were. Best of all, this process works!

Here are all the reasons why we update our old, outdated content:

  • For freshness and accuracy: New trends and statistics are released just about every quarter. Don't be one of "those guys" that still references and links to articles written in 2017 or 2016, unless they're still valid. If content needs to be updated to be fresher or more accurate than it was previously, you'll know just by reading it. 
  • To check for broken links: Links are changed and redirects are created all the time. When this happens, these links are often broken. Broken links are undeniably bad for SEO, and for that reason, it's important to keep tabs whether or not your website has any broken links. You can check for broken links with a variety of free apps, like backlink checkers on the Chrome Extension store, or even paid-for tools, like SEM Rush
  • To help readers consume your written content: Let's face it, pictures, GIFs, and other media can really do a lot for a boring blog article. It helps readers easily scan your content, and it can help illustrate your point that you're making. The best content marketers are heavily relying on images, video, and are even recording their own GIFs with tools like ScreenToGif or GIPHY Capture.
  • To increase search engine rank: If you're using a content optimization system, you should be able to track and analyze what content pieces are successful and what isn't. Posts with very little organic search traffic should be revised, and pages with decent levels of organic search traffic should be optimized. Learn more about the process of updating your content in this blog post.
  • To enhance conversion rates or click-through rate: Every blogger understands that not every post is going to drive results. Sometimes great content gets ignored. For this reason, you should always look at two primary KPIs for blogging: conversion rates and click-through rates. Did your blog article generate contacts? Did people click on the CTA at the bottom of the blog? Start your historical blog optimization with the articles that are getting clicked on and those that are generating contacts for the best possible results.

How to Tell that You Need to Update Your Content

The process of evaluating what posts need to be updated is more straightforward that digital marketers think. Look at the data and evaluate whether or not you need to add fresh content to your article.

1) Look at the Data

It's important to let your data and analytics be your guiding light here. Export and download your blog's data from HubSpot or your content management system. You should get an excel spreadsheet full of your blog's titles, authors, publish dates, and even traffic amounts. Sort that data so you can see the highest traffic and best performing articles.

Inbound Links

The most significant metric that you should be looking at is the number of inbound links, or the number of external pages that link back to your article. An article with more inbound links will have a higher search authority on Google. You cannot see this metric through downloading your blog's data from HubSpot, but you can see it with tools like Majestic SEO or Link Research Tools.

Organic Traffic

More organic traffic means more people are finding your article from Google's search results, which is great! You want your articles to be found, and if you've got an article that is getting hundreds or thousands of views per month, you should take steps to optimize it. Look for opportunities to convert some more traffic into leads, or to strengthen the article with fresher content.

Conversion Rate

This is the real indicator that a blog is contributing to a website's lead generation (and even customer generation) efforts. Blogs can provide a significant amount of leads, especially longer pillar page articles. 

Click-Through Rate

This metric can help you look for blogs that are getting a good amount of CTA clicks. However, it's essential to understand that a "click" doesn't directly translate to a conversion.

Other Metrics to Consider

The metrics included above are just the time of the iceberg--you can look at all kinds of data points to see how people are consuming your content. Consider looking at the following data points:

  • Look at Google Analytics data to see how long people are staying on your page
  • Examine heat mapping data from tools like Crazy Egg to see where people are scrolling and clicking

Overall, the data should be indicative of whether or not you need to update your article or start over. If your conversion rate is poor, or if your CTAs aren't getting clicked on, it would be best for you to start from scratch. If your CTA is getting clicks, but the page is not getting a lot of traffic, consider changing the title to a more searchable term.

2) Freshness & New Content

Google likes it when people post new, fresh content. Can you blame them? Do you really trust a blog post that was written in 2008 over one that written 2015?  

New information is good information in Google's eyes. Companies that create more new pages, with more fresh and relevant content, will rank higher than other companies.

The best content marketers are those that understand and keep tabs on what content needs to be updated. 

How to Tell if Your Website Has Old Dates

The best digital marketers utilize Google search results to find exactly what they're looking for. 

There are billions of people on the Internet, but a select few are using Boolean search techniques to safeguard their website from old, and stale content. These are specific commands that you can type into Google's search bar to better sift through the million (or even billions) of pages in your search results. Here are my favorites:

  • Use site:yourwebsite.com to only look on that specific domain 
  • Use "quotation marks" around your search term to look for that exact phrase

Knowing this, you can type in site:yourwebsiteURL.com "2012" to see all instances where your website says 2012. 

How to Actually Update Your Content

Since I manage the Revenue River blog, I am often asked if people need to completely rewrite old articles. My answer is ALWAYS the same: it depends.

There really isn't a singular formula that you can use here. Depending on the data, how your readers have consumed your post, and the accuracy of the content, you can go a few different directions. 

Consider Consolidating

Do you have multiple articles on the same topic? If so, does one article have better metrics than the other? If so, you can consolidate your articles into one larger post.

Keep the URL the Same

If you change the URL on a post that you're updating, all of the SEO benefits of that old article will be gone. It's okay to leave the URL the same, as most readers don't look at that when they're reading your content. 

If you need to create a redirect, be careful, as too many redirect can cause a logistical nightmare for a SEO coordinator.

Add an Editor's Note

Be transparent with your readers when you update your posts. Give them a heads up that you've updated your article with fresh and accurate content. 

promise you, they won't care. In fact, they'll actually be much more likely to revel in the fact that you've admitted that your content is accurate through it being updated. 

Update the Image and Other Media

Any and all updated content should be carefully evaluated for better featured image. There are plenty of free image websites, like Pexels, Unsplash, and Pixaba that you can search through for image ideas. The more pictures and images, the better!

Can you record a video or include a GIF? Did another company create a valuable info graphic that you can embed on your website (while also giving them credit)? Is there a way to link to a landing page so your blog can potentially contribute to lead generation?

All of the above questions should be heavily considered.

Updating content is a new digital marketing strategy that drives some serious results. It's the hottest content marketing strategy right now, and it can help you do more with less. Get more traffic by creating and posting less content.

Ready to get a good dose of digital marketing expertise delivered straight to your inbox? Subscribe to The Cutting Edge blog and get insipired by the strategies that the Revneue River team uses on a daily basis. 

  Denver Marketing Firm

Nathan Bracy

Nathan Bracy

Nathan graduated from the University of Denver in 2015, and worked for Revenue River until the summer of 2018. He spent a lot of his childhood in Beijing and Northern Virginia, but claims Arkansas as the place that he’s from. Nathan uses his content marketing talents to drive traffic and leads, and is not only a great writer, but also an expert at social media and email marketing. While not at work, you can expect to find Nathan up in the mountains or on the soccer field.

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