How a Content Refresh Can Help You Avoid the Web’s Black Hole

If you work in the digital marketing space or let’s face it, the marketing space in general, you’ve likely employed some sort of online content marketing strategy. While the goals of your content strategy (visibility, leads, etc.) may vary, one thing remains consistent: new content is being added and chances are, only a few pieces of that content drive the majority of your traffic.

So, what happens with the rest of it? Should it be ignored as it fades into the depths of search results? NO!

Save from Falling

Every once in awhile, it’s good to break from creating new content and redirect some of your efforts towards repurposing legacy posts that might be underperforming. This will save you time and reduce the likelihood that you or someone on your team creates a piece of content that’s already out there.

Sometimes, all it takes is the optimization of an HTML title, while other times, a total page refresh might be necessary. Regardless of the changes that need to be made, you should always be looking for ways to improve visibility, keep visitors on your site, and take advantage of the traffic coming through.

Here are some of the steps that should be taken when refreshing a piece of content on your website:

1. Evaluate the Existing Keyword Target

The first step to consider when performing a content refresh is identifying what keyword was initially targeted. When doing so, you might discover there never was a keyword target assigned in the first place, or maybe there are just better options now that the market and content has matured. To make a keyword update, you need to understand what the post is currently performing for and identify a new term that has the best chance of pulling in even more visitors.

Here at KoMarketing, one of our favorite tools for completing this exercise is SEMrush. When logging in to SEMrush, simply plug in the URL of the page you’re looking to update and see how it’s performing from an organic keyword search perspective. Below is an example of the keywords and position (from SEMrush) for a post I wrote in the recent past. Note* Google Search Console is also a valuable tool to use here.

Armed with this information, you could then determine a new keyword to focus the post on if it made sense to do so.

2. Analyze the Current SERPs

After you’ve identified a new keyword target, it’s time to structure the content in a way that falls in line with the results that are appearing on the first page. Think of this as bringing an appetizer to a neighborhood party. If you know most of the neighborhood is allergic to seafood but loves Italian food, will you bring shrimp or meatballs? Meatballs, right?

Let me elaborate. Using Google Incognito, or another similar private browser (to eliminate custom results from the equation), run a search for the term you hope to rank for. Scan down the first page of search results and start taking note of the types of content that are appearing (blog posts, product pages, news articles, etc.). Also, pay attention to the themes of the content. Are the posts structured as tutorials? Lists? Descriptions?

In the image above, we’ve searched for “marketing technology.” A lot of the content that’s appearing is targeted towards answering the “what is marketing technology?” question or educating the audience in some way. With this in mind, it may make sense to update any existing marketing technology content to reflect these results. This step is critical when performing a content refresh as Google and other search engines are becoming better and better at understanding the context of the content on the page and the intent of the user performing the search.

3. Time to Update the Content!

As you move to the on-page portion of the content refresh, think about these steps:

  • Change the Aesthetics: Depending on your findings from step two, the format of your page may need to be updated. Perhaps the page is laid out in generic paragraph form, but the first page of results is showing lists – in this case, reformat to a list style. If there’s an Answer Box result, try to adjust your content to get picked up by the search engine. Also, pay attention to the HTML title and meta descriptions used. Sometimes, all it takes is a minor title or description tweak to move up a few spots in rankings.
  • Repair Broken Links: All too often, we will be revisiting our clients’ older blog posts to evaluate new opportunities and we come across pages with broken outbound links. Broken links are not only bad for the user experience (clicking and getting a 404 error), but they also stop search engine spiders dead in their tracks. For these two reasons, it’s critical to update any and all broken outbound links so they bring the user to a new working page, or the link is removed altogether. Refreshing these links will show the user and search engines that the page they’re visiting is still timely and offers value.
  • Crosslink to Relevant Pages: You should pay attention to crosslink opportunities to other pages on your own website. When doing so, be sure to use relevant anchor text and choose a page that matches the keyword target that’s been determined (or updated!). This will bring more traffic to the page and also help search engines understand what the linked page is all about. Example: A blog post about healthcare CRMs should have anchor text that points to a healthcare CRM solution page.
  • Lengthen the Post: As you read through the legacy content, add text where it might be needed. Chances are, your expertise on a given topic has grown over time. Therefore, your content should do the same. Also, consider adding more timely content to the page where possible. If you’ve noted statistics in the post that are from a few years back, look for a newer study or other data that proves your point in a more timely fashion.
  • Re-Date the Page: Most blog posts we see published include an author name and the date it went live. After you’ve updated the content, be sure to also change the publish date. This will show the search engines and the users looking for information that your page is fresh and relevant. If you’re publishing new content that you expect to stay relevant for a long period of time, consider removing the date altogether.

Final Thoughts

Creating a brand-new piece of content should not always be the answer as you’re looking to reach new audiences and rank for specific keyword phrases. Sometimes, the content may already exist and it simply needs a refresh. Hopefully, the steps above help get you on your way.

Have you had any recent wins from performing a content refresh? Get the conversation started by dropping a line in the comments section or connecting with me on Twitter!

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— Alexis Karlin, Digital Marketing Specialist Neolane (Acquired by Adobe)

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