How and why I refresh old blog content for SEO

May 7, 2024
tl;dr: refresh old blog content for SEO by using analytics to find popular posts and determining the goal of your article for readers.
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What is time? Is it a construct? Is it just math to measure between then and now? Whatever it is, it works both fast and slow, usually the opposite of how we would like it to be. Fast is like when that blog post you recall publishing yesterday is now a few years old and probably out of date.

Lightspeed is when your brain resolves the fact that there are in fact multiple outdated posts on your blog. You then ask yourself, where do I even start?

In this resource, I use a real-life example of my very own, to show you both how and why I refresh old blog content for SEO. Let’sa go!

How I decide what blog content to refresh for SEO

I launched my new website at the beginning of the year after I had done a full audit of my original site. I blogged more earlier on and when things got busy it became neglected. Sound familiar? 

After auditing all my blog posts, I decided that I would remove most of them.

In my case, in the early days I sort of threw things at the social media/blog wall to see what would stick and what would stay there until it fell down out of sheer unwillingness to live. Needless to say, a lot of my blog content just simply wasn’t serving anybody anymore, if it ever was.

What we think about our website versus what is actually happening can be really eye-opening when you start to look at the data.

Top queries listed for your website in Google Search Console
Top searched queries for your website can be found in your Google Search Console profile once you’ve set it up and it’s had time to index data.

I could have simply deleted all the posts I assumed were donezo, implemented the redirects, and been on my way. Instead, I pulled up Google Analytics and Google Search Console to have a look at the traffic data of my website. I was quite surprised by the results:

  1. All the posts that pertained to local or business updates still got a lot of traffic for certain keywords.
  2. Most of the posts that were written that had no keyword research or goal/lead generation involved, rarely got traffic.
  3. One particular post was responsible for bringing in some of the most traffic to my website.

Consider posts that are good for your community:

All the posts that pertained to local or business updates still got a lot of traffic for certain keywords.

Getting a lot of traffic for old, local events in a specific demographic shows me that there is still room in this space to publish current, applicable content. People are still searching and finding my site when they look for these keywords: ‘women in business edmonton’, ‘ladies learning code’, ‘women in tech’, and ‘alberta women entrepreneurs’. 

These keywords matter to me because these topics matter to me. I am a woman in business, I started our Edmonton chapter of Ladies Learning Code, I’m a woman in tech, and yes, I’m a local entrepreneur. I also want to work with and learn from people who are in these communities. 

Networking and relationship building is a crucial component in running your business and I often overlook it due to, well, being anti-social, introverted, and anxiety prone.

By keeping these posts updated and published, (and making note for future content ideas), I am still inviting and responding to the community that I am a part of. Maybe someone recognizes me at the one event that I manage to make a physical appearance at and we bond over the stress we both feel in our tummies but at least we did the thing and can high-five about it!

Screenshot of Ahrefs backlink checker summary
Backlink checking tools like Ahref’s show you what websites are linking to one of your blog posts or website pages.

Consider posts that don’t serve anyone, including you:

Most of the posts that were written that had no keyword research or goal/lead generation involved, rarely got traffic.

There is no mystery to solve as to why content that was neither planned nor researched didn’t perform well. The idea of the topics were fun, I remember that they were a nice change of scenery from talking about what I did for a living every day, but – why would anyone come read about something that has nothing to do with myself or my services on my website?

I had blog posts about how to decorate your home office, reading lists, and energy saving tips. I do care about work/life balance, I love reading, and our planet matters to me – but none of these posts really said any of that. They didn’t tell stories, they were informational at best. And none of it was written to correlate to my work, self, or services.

This told me that instead of posting for the sake of posting, I needed to put thought into the time I spend blogging to make it worthwhile. Heck, if I enjoyed writing and reading those posts in the first place, I may argue that I was doing it for me. But in reading them back years later, I could say they were doing nothing for anybody.

By deciding that I would remove these posts altogether, I was breathing some fresh air into my site. I wouldn’t miss the non-existent traffic and I’m sure that if I migrated every bit of content over, I wouldn’t have been happy with my new site and might not have realized why.

It’s also entirely possible to rework content to serve you if it doesn’t already. This is part of the refreshing process and I’ll talk more about that shortly.

Screenshot of Ahref's backlink checker tool
On the left, Ahref’s backlink checker displays the site that links to you, while the right side displays which page on your site is being linked to.

Consider posts responsible for bringing in website traffic:

One particular post was responsible for bringing in some of the most traffic to my website.

In 2016 I published a blog post titled How to Mass Delete Posts from Facebook and promptly forgot about it. When I was planning my new website last December, this post initially landed in my “get rid of” pile due to my no longer using Facebook. 

That is, until I did the deep dive on my analytics and couldn’t believe how many backlinks and daily traffic I was getting to this particular blog post.

This brief Facebook article that showed users how to mass delete posts was one of the top 3 entry pages on my site. Numerous sites and places were backlinking to it, including forums, Reddit, and social media posts. 

Years later, it was still performing although with an increase to bounce rate, due to the instructions and screenshots being well out of date. Now that I had this data, I had to weigh whether it was worth removing this post when there would be so many incoming hits to my website through it.

💡 Tip: Checking your own backlinks? There are multiple tools online that you can test out for free. They will usually let you know how many backlinks they found and display a portion to you before requesting you to pay to see the rest of the list.

Screenshot of Google Search Console clicks comparison over time
In less than one week after refreshing old blog content for SEO, traffic to my post from search engines was already improving!

Determining the goal of your content

I had to regroup in order to make sense of the argument for keeping the old blog post, when I had already decided to let it go. 

When I relaunched my site this year, I promised myself that I would do things differently this time around. I would be more intentional, proactive, and thoughtful. I didn’t need a restyled version of the cemetery where posts go to perish. “Again, but this time with glitter!” No.

People always say, ‘know your why’. I admit that I lost mine for a hot minute but I’ve been enthusiastically rediscovering it post-burnout. One of my new goals is to provide helpful information that business owners, solopreneurs, and DIY-ers, like myself, can use when we’re working on aspects of our business and website and getting overwhelmed.

If the content serves you or your audience, keep it!

Yes, my service focus leans toward website services, but my clientele and audience DO still use Facebook. So not only can I still be helpful to them by supplying this content, it might be better for me to rank now with these keywords and topics in case I make any changes to my service offerings later.

Now that I determined I wanted to refresh old blog content for SEO, the issue was that I had an old post with screenshots and instructions that were no longer current. And I, being off Facebook altogether, had a problem to solve.

How I refreshed old blog content for SEO

I knew I had enough on my plate and I didn’t have the spoons or the drive to edit the blog post myself. I wanted it to be given the attention and detail that I recognized I couldn’t provide at the time, so I hired a copywriter!

Since this was all based on SEO, I chose a copywriter who focuses on SEO themselves and had experience with both do-it-for-you and do-it-with-you services. Normally I do write all my own copy but because it was a tutorial and guide, I didn’t feel my voice was as important to get across. I also knew that I would be able to edit the post after it was supplied to me, so off to the races we went!

Screenshot of Notion page outline for blogging
This is a screenshot of this blog post’s outline that I prepared in Notion before I started copywriting.

Creating a content outline and delivery plan

Since you’re working with existing copy you don’t necessarily need to start from scratch – I think it all depends on how ‘off’ the current content is for your goals.

You could treat your update as if you were starting a blog post from scratch, and consider an outline. These help me create a sort of framework around my post, along with making note of the problem I am resolving within my content.

Consider the reasons why you decided to keep your old post(s) in the first place

By already having determined the goal of your post and deciding its best to keep it, you’re closer to understanding how to refresh its content. You saw value in keeping your post, now you need to develop on that.

Is your technical information outdated?

  • Old screenshots that no longer show the same interface
  • Tutorial instructions whose steps have been altered
  • Companies or names that have changed
  • Broken links

Is your content too short?

  • There is a lot of advice on how long your copy should be but the powers that be claim search engines care more about the quality of content you publish versus the amount. Still, 200 words aren’t going to convey a lot.
  • Think about the affiliation you personally have with the topic you’re writing about. Do you have opinions, experiences, or thoughts to add?
  • Do you know someone who you could interview or share this topic with to produce additional content?
  • What has changed between then and now, is it worth a review and notes about the future?

What do you want your reader to do?

  • Once they’re finished reading your blog post, do you want your visitor to leave your site and do nothing?
  • Offer a call-to-action (CTA) within your content. Include one in the middle if it’s longer form, and always something at the end.
  • CTAs may look like an invitation to contact or connect on social media, subscribe to a newsletter, read a similar article on your blog, or view a service offering.

When I create outlines before I start drafting a blog post, they usually end up being the article’s headline titles. These help me to both stay on track but also focus on all the different components of the topic I’m writing about. Try interviewing yourself about the blog post you want to write:

  • What is the topic?
  • Why is it worth writing about?
  • Are you providing a solution to a problem?
  • Why does your audience have these problems?
  • Have you had similar experiences, if so, how did you solve them?
  • What questions do you ask yourself when you are in this space?

When the goal is to create content that people want to read, that evokes a trust and recognition in you, your skills, and experience – you need to care about what you’re saying.

Screenshot of Rank Math Pro WordPress Plugin top page
In this screenshot of Rank Math Pro’s WordPress plugin, the dip and rise in the traffic graph shows the journey of an outdated blog post making a real comeback!

Results I’ve seen after refreshing old blog content for SEO

I republished my 2016 Facebook post on April 10, 2024 and in one week, I could already see the analytics improving. 

You see, in the few months between acknowledging my analytics and getting the rewrite done, I finally started seeing my traffic dip on this particular post. On one hand, I thought, “finally! It only took 8 years!” but on the other hand, when I saw my backlink number going down, I thought, “wait! Just hang on a few more weeks! The new article is coming!”

Within the last year, most of the impressions and clicks through to the Facebook post have been in the last 30 days, pushing it back up the SERP to settle in just below articles from PCMag, Android Authority, and The Verge and just above one from Facebook themselves.

This has shown me that with some attention and care, a previously popular post that nearly disappeared from reach, can re-enter the playing field!

Do I think all this work will directly cause lead generation? No. But LOOK AT ALL THIS DATA!

Applying a plan, researching, writing, editing, and determining performance is great practice and will only improve my efforts overall. You start learning things along the way, strengthening your skills. Mad skills, yo.

How often should you review and refresh old blog posts for SEO?

Ask yourself: What type of content do you post?

Ask Yourself: How much traffic are your posts getting?

Ask Yourself: Do your old blog posts still serve you?

If you’re not sure, or starting from scratch, one of the best methods of preparing blog topics is thinking about the FAQ that your customers or people in your life ask you about your business, products, or services.

For example, I can think of topics to write about when I consider experiences in:

  • Receiving ineffective source material from clients
  • Fixing page layouts or formatting after an accidental break
  • Explaining what something means or how it affects us
  • Learning or discovering a new method, process, or tool

You don’t want to overwhelm yourself and you don’t want to waste time preparing something you don’t even enjoy and likely won’t perform well. Start with working on one post per month, or one every other month.

Blog posts can also be versatile in providing content for other applications like your newsletters or social media posts. That goes both ways too. If you find newsletters or socials easier, consider if you can pull content ideas from these places.

Would you like to stop working in your own head and start collaborating with your own personal web consultant?

I’m used to working by myself and I feel like I have an epiphany every time I meet to talk with another business owner or creative. Sometimes it’s good to escape our own heads and gain insight or feedback we wouldn’t otherwise get.

I’m available for 1:1 website coaching and consulting calls for as often as you need!

Thank you so much for reading, I hope you found this information helpful. If so, consider signing up for my monthly newsletter

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Are you interested in starting or refreshing your website to reach and grow your audience? My name is Bree and I’m a website designer and developer who helps with the before, during, and after processes of launching and managing a website. If you’d like support with your website or business, reach out and let's chat!

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