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How to Update Old Blog Posts to Get Tons of New Site Traffic: A Step-by-Step Tutorial

The following is a guest post.

Publisher Note: Before I turn this post over to our guest poster, there are two quick things I want to say. (i) This insight on how and why to update old blog posts is excellent content marketing info to condense into a short report to use as a lead magnet to get online / SEO writing clients.

Put it on your site as a free download AND send it to prospects. It makes “cold pitching” so much more effective. I’ve used this method of marketing for gigs effectively for years.

Also, (ii) it’s a great way to get extra work from clients. How? Identify an old post on a prospect’s blog that you can update, explaining how doing so can lead to increased traffic (btw, this is where your free report would come in handy as an explanation). By doing this, you could land a gig writing new content — and updating old content.

Note: This post contains affiliate links. Here’s the site’s affiliate disclosure policy for full details.

Now, over to Helen, our guest poster …

The Miracle of Updating Old Blog Posts

Blogging is not a rocket science, but it is a business with a million tentacles: eg, writing new content; promoting it via social media; creating lead magnets; answering questions from readers (ie, potential customers); etc. That’s why you have to use your time wisely, especially if you’re a one-person shop, or a small enterprise striving to grow.

Sometimes you simply have no time to create new content, which is a big time drain for many bloggers (and why freelance writers are so in demand). This is why updating old posts can be so valuable, from a time, traffic and SEO standpoint. Old content that you update has outstanding potential to bring you tons of new traffic – traffic that will keep flowing in year after year – if you do it right.

Before we get into how to identify which posts to update on your blog, let’s dig deeper into why you should make this a part of your blogging strategy.

Why Bother to Update Old Blog Posts

Check out your Google Search Console for your site’s traffic patterns. You may notice that there are some posts bringing in steady amounts of traffic. These will usually be posts like tutorials, guides, lists, success stories, etc. This can be so-called “evergreen” content that can stay popular and be searched for for years — if it’s kept updated.

For example, the beginning of the New Year is a time when many search for info in hot niches on a new career they may be interested in starting. Evergreen articles like this may not impress you with a burst of traffic, but they will keep your traffic stable through the years. For an example of this, check out the traffic flow for this expert roundup tips post from Tortugabackpacks.com.

When Updating Old Blog Posts Choose Evergreen Content

Old posts on your blog can become the basis for evergreen content. Updating them so they contain accurate, reliable info helps to ensure that they become a consistent source of traffic for your blog. When you update old blog posts, you also send a signal to search engines that you have something new at your site and “invite” the crawlers to find and rank it.

And finally, when you update old blog posts, it saves you time; a lot of time. To create a new post — and we’re talking about high-quality posts only, right? — you would most likely spend a few days at least researching the topic, finding good examples, writing the content, proofreading and editing it, then posting it to your blog.

This Site Is Growing & Always Looking for Great Guest Posts. Submit Yours.

When you choose to update older content, it’s much easier to rewrite passages or sections, drop in a few new examples – and voila! – you’ve got updated, uself content that can steadily drive traffic, especially if it’s a post that’s already ranking well.

How to Identify Old Blog Posts to Update

Since updating older content still requires some effort, it’s better to use that effort wisely by getting maximum ROI. So choose posts with the best chance of ranking well (or continuing to rank well). Following is some insight into how to do that.

1. Look for trending or evergreen topics

One of the most obvious things to do when you decide to update old blog posts is to start with those that are evergreen and have a constant flow of traffic. If a post garners a consistent flow of visitors over a long period of time, it means the topic is still trendy and chances are it will stay trendy longer.

For example, self-publishing ebooks has been huge for years, especially since Amazon made it so easy starting in 2009. This post about ebook theft on this blog has ranked well on Google (#1 spot) for a while now. Obviously, it’s a concern for a lot of people.

Other evergreen content to consider: seasonal articles like Christmas freebies; yearly events/contests; popular topics (eg, health, wealth and love) that you can tie into your content somehow. After a proper refresh, these posts can drive new web surfers who are tired of the same old seasonal reading on other blogs to your blog.

2. Check for top-performing content

This is a more analytical approach where you identify posts based on their performance and numbers. Dig into your site’s analytics — which can come from your web hosting company, or via Google Analytics — to get this info.

3. Check traffic to specific posts

Check out the analytics for your blog and identify the content/post(s) that have been bringing in a stable amount of traffic for some time. Start with the previous 30 to 90 days as a timeframe and see which of those older posts are in the Top 10.

4. Check inbound and outbound links

Check out the backlinks to existing content. Update old blog posts that have a decent number of outbound and inbound links. Those that gather a lot of backlinks usually rank higher and have more trust from users; it’s, in fact, part of the the reason they’ve garnered so many backlinks.

5. Investigate posts with lots of social shares

This is not a primary factor, but it’s still important because content that get a lot of social shares signal it’s a topic that web surfers are interested in, and hence, worthy of updating.

How to Update Old Blog Posts to Generate Maximum Site Traffic

Ok, now that you know which posts on your blog to target for updating, following are some tips on how to go about doing it so you get the most traffic you can out of it.Update Old Blog Posts to Increase Site Traffic

1. Revise headline

Titles either entice web surfers to click, or not. So this is one of the first things you want to analyze when you decide to update an old blog post. Take a closer look at its structure and content.

Is there a keyword in it? Is it near the beginning of the post? Does it make it clear what the post is about? Is it possibly confusing or can be misconstrued? Does the content in the post back it up? This brings us to the next tip, which is …

2. Check the structure and content of the post

What are its strongest and weakest parts? What info is outdated and should be removed/rewritten?

Also research what the audience wants/needs from the post. Are their main questions answered thoroughly? Are there other questions you can answer that can’t easily be found elsewhere?

Research Tip: Q&A sites like Quora and Yahoo Answers! are great for researching what web surfers really want to know about a topic because they post the questions they need the answers to themselves.

3. Do some keyword research

Did you target keywords when you wrote your old article? If you did, they/it might not be relevant now, and/or there are better ones that can be used today.

For these reasons, when you update old blog posts, it’s wise to do some keyword research again. You will be surprised how many new and untapped keyword ideas you can find for an article:

  • Check out your Google Search Console – what keywords this article already ranks for;
  • Drop these keywords in your favorite keyword tool and take a look at their metrics;
  • Get the most relevant keywords with good search volume and traffic potential for your content; and
  • Try to focus on long-tail keywords since they can be easier to rank for.

FYI, here’s a great keyword research tool that can help you quickly discover hundreds of words and phrases that web surfers are googling to put in your copy and drive more site traffic.

Blogging Tip: Using Q&A sites like Quora is a great way to find ideas for new, useful content to add to old posts. Click To Tweet

4. Check out the META-data

Now that you have your keywords, let’s work some magic with your META-data. Don’t forget, even simple manipulations can help your content rank higher in SERPs.

How to Quickly Find Out Which Blog Titles Perform Better

As discussed above, rewrite your title to include your new (main) keyword. Try to come up with a few variants to choose the most appropriate and catchy ones. If you’re using WordPress, you can try Optimizely to do some A/B testing and find out which headline will attract the most clicks.

Rewrite your META-description and snippet. Google takes wording from the first paragraph of your post to show the most relevant description in its snippet in search results. So, be sure to make it very clear in the first paragraph what your post is about.

You can also “force change” the description Google shows. How? Using a SEO WordPress plug-in like Yoast, you can manually write in what you want to show up in Google’s description of your post in the “Snippet” section.

SEO URL Tip

Never ever ever ever ever change the URL of the old post, even if you use redirects on your blog. As I said earlier, old articles already have some traffic; changing the URL may decrease the link’s value. One reason is, it makes it hard to find.

Most web surfers won’t hang around your blog trying to find the new link to the post they came looking for. They’ll head straight back to Google and start their search again, or click on another link to someone else’s from the previous search they conducted.

5. Rewrite the content

When you have all the necessary data in hand, make the changes you’ve identified, eg, rewrite some parts; remove outdated sections; add a relevant quote from a noted individual in that niche; etc.

Don’t forget to include more relevant keywords (but do it in natural way!). Also, add more stats, (info)graphs, and other visuals, eg, video. It’s worth nothing that people are drawn to visuals, simply because they are processed 60,000 times faster than text, which means you can paint a picture for your audience much faster. Never forget this.

6. Do some interlinking

When the post is almost ready – look for places to add some more inbound links. As I mentioned earlier, inbound links can add trust and impact content rank in search engines (eg, Google). So pay attention to content already on your blog that you can link to.

7. Change the posting date

Sometimes even changing the date when the article was posted may provide it with a nice boost in rankings. One of Google’s patents contains info about documents whose content changes over time may be ranked differently than content that never changes (ie, is never updated). Proof of this?

At Ahrefs, we updated an old post of SEO tips and “published” it with the new date. It jumped into the Top 10 on Google immediately. Simple change. Amazing results!

How to Update Old Blog Post Tips

SEO Tip: Did you know -- when you update an old blog post, changing the date on it can give it a boost in search engines? Click To Tweet

FYI, here’s a really good, in-depth post on how updating a blog post may affect Google rankings.

Conclusion

Updating old content is usually faster than creating new content from scratch. Since it has already been indexed by search engines and ranks in SERP (search engine results pages), it can start bringing in new traffic in no time. Following are some simple rules to follow to ensure that this happens.

  • Update only content that’s worth it.
  • Don’t change the URL of the updated content.
  • Do proper keyword research to boost the content’s potential SEO value.
  • Make it 10x better, bigger and more relevant to your audience.
  • Change the date to when it was updated.

When you update old blog posts using these simple instructions, you can get more traffic from Google with minimal effort, possibling edging past competitors by offering updated content that can’t be found anywhere else.

Author bio: Helen Stark is a content marketer at Ahrefs.com. She explores the web every day, digging up new content to impress and educate her readers. Apart from all that online marketing stuff, Helen loves listening to rock music, reading and traveling. A lot! Follow Helen on Twitter.

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