One of the best ways to increase search rankings and boost organic traffic is to routinely update your old blog posts. If you don’t already have a system for doing this, no worries—we’ll get you there by the end of this post!
But first, let’s talk about why it’s so important to always be updating your blog content. I can think of six reasons of off the top of my head:
Need proof? Here’s a recent case study from our own adventures in blog updating.
Last July, we identified a personal finance keyword opportunity for our client, an online lender. We wrote a blog optimized for the primary keyword and its associated secondary keywords, then pressed publish.
Three months after the blog went live, it was ranking on Page 1 for 126 target keywords. However, after its organic traffic peaked at 2,156 in October, we noticed entrances starting to decline. Our analysis revealed a few things that may have contributed.
Within six months of publishing, we decided to make a few updates to boost the post’s SEO results. Our step-by-step approach is outlined below, but here are a few specific things we did to improve our chances with this blog:
Between the analysis and copy updates, we spent just a few hours optimizing this blog—faster than it typically takes to research and write a brand-new SEO-optimized blog post.
And the results? Within the first month of optimizing, the post drove almost as many organic entrances as it had in the prior six months it was live on the blog—a 478% increase in average monthly organic traffic.
Organic Traffic Before vs. After Update
It also saw a boost in keyword rankings, going from 153 page 1 rankings pre-update to 164 post-update. More importantly, we ranked in the top 3 positions for 58 keywords (vs. 30 the month before)—including our primary target keyword.
Ranking Distributions Before vs. After Update
Not bad for just a few hours of work. And in 3-6 months, we’ll update the post again so that we can continue to see better results.
OK, now for the fun part . . .
Here’s our step-by-step process for updating old blog posts:
Step #1: Put it on the calendar.
Start by auditing your content regularly. This is something we do for our clients on a monthly basis, but you can do it quarterly if that’s easier to manage.
There are a few reasons for scheduling time to audit and update old blogs. First, if you do it sporadically, you run the risk of forgetting, and you’re not going to get the full benefits of this strategy.
Second, SEO stuff is changing all the time—from search engine algorithm updates to new content competing for your target keywords. Carving out time to make updates is the best way to ensure your content stays ahead of the curve.
Step #2: Start with high priority content.
The first time you audit your blog content, make a list of all the posts you consider high priority from an SEO perspective. Add new high priority posts to the list as they go live.
Here are a few opportunities to look for as you review each post:
Step #3: Look for other low-hanging fruit.
As you review your blog metrics, you may uncover non-high priority content that could be working harder for your site with just a few updates. For example:
Step #4: Optimize.
You’ve probably guessed by now that we don’t recommend you update every single blog post each month. Keep it to your highest priority and best opportunity posts.
How you optimize each post will depend on the reason you’re optimizing it—here are a few examples:
And of course, it helps to make sure you’re optimizing posts the right way in the first place. Check out our SEO-optimization guide and template for blogs for easy-to-follow instructions.
Step #5: Re-publish and re-share
Make sure to update the date on the refreshed post, and then share it on social media, email and any other channels you typically use to promote new blogs.
This can also be a great opportunity to reach out to relevant influencers to let them know you’ve added new info to a post they might be interested in (only do this if it’s truly helpful for them—they don’t need to know about title tag updates).
As you can see, the key to updating old blog posts for an SEO boost is to have a process in place, and a big part of that process is having easy access to blog metrics. You can’t identify update opportunities or see the benefits of this strategy if you’re not measuring results.
We provide SEO analytics and maintenance as a monthly service to our financial brand clients, but you can do it on your own using free tools like Google Analytics and Google Search Console. We also use Ahrefs, a paid tool, to track keywords rankings, backlinks and other SEO-specific metrics.