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WHAT IS A CONTENT REFRESH?
A content refresh takes your existing content and makes sure it's up-to-date from every angle, whether that's tweaking language to be in line with new brand guidelines, updating information to be factually correct, or addressing shifting searcher intent.
Think of it like maintaining a car: Even if you're driving a Bugatti, you need to take care of it if you want to get the most out of it. If you don't, you'll eventually face a lengthy breakdown and expensive repairs, which takes way more work (and more money) than if you'd just followed the maintenance schedule in the first place.
A content refresh works the same way. By performing one, you're breathing new life into your existing content and making sure it will keep getting you where you need to go for years to come.
Why Should You Refresh Content?
There are several reasons you may want to do a content refresh:
- You're experiencing content decay. This is the big one. More on that later on, but for now, suffice it to say that search engines like the content they display to be shiny and new.
- You've changed who you're marketing to. Maybe your company has found a new niche, or you're trying to get an edge over a new competitor. A content refresh can help target your website to this new audience.
- You want to reflect inclusive language on your website. This is one of the top reasons to do a content refresh, and it can open up a whole new world of customers.
- Your website is simply out of date. Do the top-ranking pages on your website all come from pre-pandemic days? Is your website stuck in the days of shutter shades and lace-up jeans? Updating your website regularly signals to search engines that you care about your content, and improves your rankings.
What Happens During A Content Refresh?
There are four main steps to doing a content refresh. The first step is to know your goals for the content refresh—e.g. improving rankings or updating for inclusive language—and identify the pages that need updating. Tools like Google Analytics and Ahrefs are your best friend here. You don't want to do large updates on content that's newer than 90 days, or even longer if your keywords are particularly fiddly.
Stage two is to prioritize. What posts can you get the most bang for your buck by updating? Focus on bringing those up to scratch. If your goal is improving rankings, don't waste your time rewriting an article that's already ranking well. Instead, look for those articles that performed well when they were first published, but have now slipped down in the SERPs.
Stage three involves updating the content itself. This means you have a lot of research to do! You'll need to proofread, add links and fix any broken ones, improve your formatting, and add updated keywords. Don't forget to update the meta description of your pages, too
Stage four is the hard part: Wait for the new searchers to come in, and measure the impact that your changes have made. With trickier keywords, this process can take weeks or months, but it's one of the most satisfying feelings in the world when the clicks finally roll in.
What Is Content Decay?
Content decay is when your content gradually loses traffic and rankings over time. This could be because it's on a topic that changes quickly and your information is no longer factually correct, or because your competitors are putting out better, more comprehensive content for that keyword.
Whatever the reason, your content is a lot like that salad you bought and then forgot about: The longer you leave it untouched, the more of a problem that you'll have in the future. Even content that's made it to the top of the search engines will slowly decline in rankings as time goes by. If your older content has been seeing a reduction in traffic for the last year (or longer), content decay may be the cause. A content refresh can halt that backward slide.
How Do You Refresh SEO?
It's not just the keywords that you have to pay attention to when doing a content refresh. Images, metadata, and links all play an important role in your search engine rankings. Here are some of the elements to consider when it's time for a content refresh:
- The publication date of blog posts. Search engines typically prioritize content with newer dates.
- The sources you're linking to. If your article on HR strategies only references sources from the
prehistoricpre-pandemic era of in-person work, it's time to find some newer data.
- Alt tags for images. Accessibility is an increasingly important part of SEO.
- Are your CTAs up-to-date, or do you reference an event or coupon that's no longer valid?
How Often Should You Refresh Your Content?
Depending on the topic, Google will have different expectations for how fresh an article should be. This means your refresh needs will vary based on your industry and content strategy. Regardless of the frequency, however, it's important to develop a cadence to make sure you've got eyes on your content regularly.
For example, some companies do quarterly content refreshes. Other companies take a rolling approach and pick five or six pieces of content to update every month. As with most things, consistency is key.
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