With marketing budgets in flux due to the pressures of real-world events, now is a great time to go back and take a look at the web copy and content marketing pieces you have published over the years.
Upcycling content is a compelling method for boosting your rankings. It is also cost-effective and time-resourceful as you already have a high-quality base to work from.
Potential candidates for content recycling are any pieces that were posted more than a year ago as these are more likely to be out of date or irrelevant to audiences in 2020, especially if your industry or niche has evolved during the last 18 months or so.
Keeping content fresh and updated is a worthwhile strategy to pursue at any time as it can deliver a much-needed spike in organic traffic. Older articles are no longer front and centre and can struggle for visibility, which means fewer clicks and page views.
Identifying the right legacy content
There are a few ways that you can approach older content. You can find the articles that have slipped further down Google’s search results in recent months and update those or target well-written content that is not fully optimised for keywords.
A third approach goes against the notion that content needs to have dropped off in terms of delivering key metrics before you decide to revisit. Articles and blogs that are already driving organic traffic in Google can also be updated to ensure that they remain highly visible in search.
It is important to document how content is performing before you start updating it as you will want to measure the impact of amendments afterwards. Now that you have identified a piece, you can proceed with repurposing and posting it. There are several ways that you can update content:
- Add more related keywords
- Boost word count
- Include more images, stats and data
- Add editor’s note at the top
- Add more internal links
To flesh out those points, conducting keyword research to find a few primary phrases or semantic keywords that did not feature in the original piece is recommended. You can use Google Search Console for keyword suggestions and variations and to pinpoint any underperforming keywords. The latter can be found in the ‘Search Results’ report, where you will be able to look at ranking data and average click-through-rate (CTR).
For word count, longer is preferable due to the recent tweaks to Google’s algorithm. Pages with 1,000-plus words just work better most of the time, but don’t try to force the issue if the piece does not demand it. You don’t want to add anything superfluous. You still want targeted, up-to-date content that adds value. A good way to boost word counts is by adding more depth to a subject.
Time on page is also important as you want readers to engage with your content from start to finish. You can do this by sprinkling in a few stock images or screenshots of facts or data. Bullet points are also a useful way to break up a longer piece to make it more digestible.
Finally, building up your links will increase the chances of higher rankings in SERPs. Google values them as they essentially ‘connect’ your content and offer a semblance of structure and establish a hierarchy on your site. They also spread link equity across websites, which is great for ranking in search.
If you have yet to use internal links, these links are hyperlinks that point to another page on your website. Adding around five to 10 new internal links is a good general target when updating content. This means that you need to link out from the updated content to older articles, perhaps ones that are already delivering ample returns via Google. Internal links improve the authority of your pages.
The only step left is to republish the content. Make sure to change the publish date to the time you want it to go live rather than hitting ‘update’. You want Google to know that the content is new and fresh.
Auto update title dates
An easy way to improve the relevance of your content for search queries is by adding the current year to the title. However, this means that content can seem outdated a year to two later when users are entering specific keywords and the year 2020, or in the future, 2021. Google sees this as a different keyword even though the rest of the title could be a match.
Going back to change the title of every piece with a date in it can be laborious. Fortunately, there is a quick fix for this issue. By using an SEO plugin, you can add a ‘current year’ code to your title so that it auto populates it with the correct year. It will do this when a new year begins, so you don’t have to do anything else. This method is great for capturing long-tail search traffic.
On-page SEO tactics
Updating old content is all part of one-page SEO where you optimise pages to improve rankings in SERPs with an end goal of increasing organic traffic. There are some other on-page tactics that can assist your efforts as you go about republishing articles and blogs.
Fast-loading pages are always beneficial in 2020 as both Google and consumers look for the very best digital experiences. Page speed is a ranking factor, so you should try to get your load times down as much as possible. A study found that pages in the top positions in search results are faster to load.
To improve speeds, you can reduce and compress image sizes and minimise any extraneous HTML. This is not something to obsess over, but it is useful as Google states that more than half of users abandon a page when it takes longer than three seconds to load. Shaving milliseconds off page loads is unlikely to do much, but getting it below that three-second mark should be a priority.
Other tactics you can use for on-page SEO include the use of short descriptive URLs and descriptive alt tags for images and strategic use of keywords in titles and meta descriptions. By doing this and giving new life to older content, you can keep pages ranking in Google’s search for the foreseeable future.