The content refresh: How to do more with less

By Beth Horner
23rd June 2021

A constant stream of new content is usually the goal, however sometimes it can be more beneficial to refresh your existing high performing content (as well as your lower ranking pieces).

Revisiting old content is a great strategy for clients and businesses who feel they have already covered the majority of topics and angles within their niche. Whilst new and reactive opportunities will always come along, the evergreen content is something you may need to continue to update – rather than produce new.

Having older content to springboard can be great, not only do you already have the basis of your content ready – but it also allows you to really spend some extra time and attention on the details.

When it comes to past content, it will typically still be relevant, but it just needs some tweaking in terms of dates and up to date information. Doing this can help you remain relevant and more likely to rank – rather than just having your older content slip down the rankings over time.

Benefits of a content refresh

Before we get into it, its important to know the benefits of the content refresh. There are actually a number of benefits – and, whilst they may not all apply to you it is important to understand them.

  • Updated content is viewed as new by Google, and therefore provides reason for it to be tested in higher ranking positions again
  • Relevant and up to date content is more likely to increase traffic – through shares, links and social posts
  • Updating existing content allows you to refocus your strategy, especially when it comes to keyword targeting
  • It generally takes less time and fewer resources to update content, which means you can do more in less time

How to know when your content needs a refresh

There are actually a number of reasons your content needs refreshing and revisiting. In some cases, your traffic may be telling you that you need to update your existing content or there may be an obvious drop in rankings.

Maybe you want to perform an annual review (for example reviewing and updating your season specific content year on year) or you might just be struggling for new ideas.

You’ve covered it all

One of the most obvious ways to tell if you need to have a content refresh is if you feel you have already covered the majority of topics in your niche.

If you feel like you are constantly struggling for new ideas, or that your blog posts are becoming more and more removed from what it is you actually do – then it is probably time to revisit your older content and see how you can improve it. Rather than spending time coming up with new ideas.

If you have new ideas, you can still continue with these – but maybe do less for a few months whilst you update your existing collection. You’ll probably find by the time you’ve gone through your archives there is plenty of new things to talk about!

With our client MSL, we have covered a number of topics within their niche of facilities management – so, instead of curating multiple new blog posts each month we curate one new angle based on current events or seasonal activity, then consolidate and improve other pieces to curate one improved piece.

Through doing this we have been able to move away from multiple articles which are around 500 words in length, to fewer in-depth blogs of 800 words or more which cover everything in detail.

You’re seeing a reduction in traffic

It is fairly common for brands to be focused on the future and not the past – which is understandable – however when it comes to content this can result in a loss of traffic. By ignoring your older content, you may be missing valuable opportunities to increase your rankings and your traffic.

For our client, Terrys Fabrics, we have consistently ensured we update and improve their breadth of content – despite there always being new things to talk about.

This is because we know that the evergreen content such as ‘How to Get Mould and Mildew Out of Curtains’ is some of the best performing content and we need to stay on top of these terms – securing our spot in the SERPs.

In addition to this, Google prioritises new content – which is no surprise, if you think about when you are searching for articles or research pieces to read, you are obviously going to want to read the most up to date information, right? So, even if you have the best resource possible on a certain topic, without keeping it up to date it will eventually slip down the rankings.

Not only that, but competitors are constantly coming out of the woodwork – everyone is learning now how important content is, and there will likely be someone out there looking to take your spot in the SERPs.

All these factors together, or individually, can cause a reduction in traffic. Naturally, this will impact your entire SEO strategy and reduce the traffic coming to your site.

3 ways to improve your existing content

1. Expand

One of the best ways you can improve your existing content is to expand on what you already have. Over time, the ‘optimal’ word count has changed. Whilst worrying too much about hitting a word count can be negative, recent research by SEMRush has shown that the longer the content, the better. It may be that when you wrote the original article there wasn’t much information available – so when you refresh your content try to add any relevant information whilst removing any irrelevant bits. Expanding on your existing content is also a great opportunity to add additional types of content to the page such as images or infographics.

2. Sweat the small stuff

Some pieces may not require the same amount of work as others – where some may need a full rewrite, others might only need a title change. A simple way to update your content is to change up titles, publish dates and images. If there is any mention of dates throughout the copy, make sure this is the current year or if an image is years out of date, choose a more recent one.

3. Optimise

You can expand and update your content all you want, and still may not see as many results as you thought if you don’t optimise your keywords, meta descriptions and titles. So, make sure you assess SEO opportunities within each piece.

If you’d like some support in auditing and refreshing your old and existing content, get in touch for a chat with our content strategy team, we’d be happy to help.

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