The prevailing wisdom is that long-form content (1,000 words or more, at least) often drives better SEO and conversion performance. And you’re supposed to post fresh content regularly — once a week or more is the answer given by most experts.
Yet according to one study, it takes around 3 hours and 15 minutes to write a 1,000-word blog post. That doesn’t include time for keyword research, ideation, editing, gathering images and actually publishing the post, so many organizations are looking at an investment of 5 or more hours per blog post.
You can see how getting regular content onto your pages can become a question of resources. While outsourcing content creation is always an option, some internal attention is still required. This is why you might want to learn how to use content upgrades as a tactic for delivering fresh content without re-creating the wheel for every blog post.
What Are Content Upgrades?
Content upgrades are updates to content you already have on your site. In short, updating content is about making old content new again or bringing previously lackluster content up to your current standards for SEO and marketing.
Here are some examples of content updates:
- A blog post titled “The Best Medical Jobs in 2016” might be updated with new information to become “The Best Medical Jobs in 2022.”
- A post about mortgage best practices from 2015 can be updated with new statistics and information to be more relevant in 2022.
- A post about the best products for cleaning homes that should have been popular with a brand’s target audience but never got a lot of traffic can be refreshed to increase quality and engagement.
SEO Implications and Benefits of Updating Content
Michael Steele, the CEO of boutique Vancouver-based technical marketing agency Flywheel Digital, says, “Content updates can have huge benefits on a site’s SEO. The addition of optimized headers, relevant keywords and answers to ‘People also ask’ questions can make a site more desirable to users, and search engines will see this and reward the site with higher rankings.”
Updating pages also lets you create content that’s more aligned with current searcher intent, which is important. If someone shows up on your page and the content isn’t aligned with their intent, they’ll bounce quickly. That’s bad for conversions as well as behavioural metrics that boost your placement in search results.
Steele notes that it’s important “to submit the newly updated page(s) to Google Search Console to be crawled and indexed. This lets Google know you’ve made changes to a page and that you want the search engine to take a look at those changes.”
How Often Should You Update Content?
It depends. Some content is so evergreen it rarely or never needs updating. Something timely, such as a yearly roundup, may need revisiting annually. Typically, you should conduct a content audit each year to find pages in need of an upgrade.
Steele recommends identifying posts and content areas in need of updates and prioritizing them. Then you can set a budget, plan to update as much content as you can within that budget and begin delegating the tasks.
It’s also important to incorporate content upgrades into your overall marketing strategy. This isn’t a side project but a critical part of your content marketing calendar and plan.
What Should You Change or Add When Upgrading Content?
Updating content means replacing all outdated or low-quality content with new information and higher-quality content designed to support SEO and drive engagement. The comprehensive checklist below provides a guide for everything you should change or add when upgrading content.
- Statistics. Replace out-of-date statistics with new information. In most cases, data that’s more than a couple years old should be replaced — especially in financial, medical and technical content. You definitely shouldn’t reference statistics older than five years in most other content unless you’re telling a historical story.
- Links. Check all links in your content. Replace links to out-of-date information with new ones. You should also replace all broken links.
- Dated content. Review the page for content or phrases that date it. Slang, references to popular movies or off-hand mentions of current events might all need to be replaced or removed. The same is true for processes or tips that are no longer helpful or possible. For example, the tips written for retail shops before the COVID-19 pandemic might not be in a business’s best interest now.
- Keywords. Conduct new keyword research relevant to the topic of your blog post. The phrases people were using to find such content in the past might have evolved, which means new primary and secondary keywords to incorporate into your content. You can also take this time to ensure best keyword placement, which means placing primary keywords in the H1 and H2 headings, early in the content and a few times throughout.
- Semantic keywords. Semantic keywords are phrases that people would naturally use when talking about a topic. Including them in your blog post helps demonstrate to the search engines’ language programming that your content has a strong relevance to search terms. Quality, comprehensive and updated content is likely to contain semantic phrases naturally, but you can use tools such as Ink SEO, MarketMuse or SEMrush to get a list of phrases to include in your content.
- People Also Ask answers. Google your keywords and see what shows up in the People Also Ask question box. Include those questions and answers on pages to ensure they answer the current questions of your audience.
- Content that answers more current searcher intent. Add anything you can think of that’s relevant to your audience and searchers today or that was left out of your original content.
Steele recommends being transparent about content upgrades. Include a note at the beginning or end of the blog post that lets users know when the content was originally published and when it was updated. Looking to make content upgrades a regular part of your marketing strategy or need to overhaul an entire collection of blog posts? Crowd Content can help. Reach out to learn more about our enterprise services for managing large content projects, or place content update requests to qualified writers via our self-serve marketplace.