You did your keyword research, wrote an in-depth blog post, and took it live. It ranked on Google for multiple terms; your social media followers loved it, your newsletter subscribers did too!
That was the first 4-months post-launch. But now it’s month 7, and your once spiking-with-traffic blog post now looks like this:
So what happened?
Why Does Content Decay?
When we talk about content decay, we’re referring to a blog post that was performing well, but over time lost the ability to drive as much traffic as its peak. The main reasons a blog post starts to decay are often connected to:
- A competitor wrote a better blog post than you
- You didn’t earn enough backlinks
- The information became outdated
- People stopped clicking on your post in the search results
You have two options when this happens.
You can throw up your hands, write a new blog post on another topic, and forget about your once high-performing blog post. Or, you can do a content refresh!
Why Refresh Old Content?
Refreshing old content is somewhat of a cheat code when it comes to content creation. Why? Well, you already have a proof of concept. You’ve already proven that you can write a post that can rank for the target keyword, and you have a blog post that used to do just that. Now all you have to do is revive it some with a refresh.
Google loves fresh content, so republishing your updated article will signal to Google that the information in your blog post is more up-to-date than competing articles.
Additionally, you won’t have to start from scratch with a brand new blog post. Instead, refreshing gives you a head start.
How to Choose Content to Refresh?
When it comes to refreshing blogs, not all blogs are created equal. You don’t want to choose a blog post that wasn’t earning traffic to begin with. In general, you want to focus on posts that used to earn 1-2% of your total website traffic. That number might differ depending on the size of your website. The main goal here is to choose a post that will move the needle to your website. Imagine if you could give your site a 1-2% organic traffic boost. That’s some serious stuff!
How to Refresh Old Content
1) Find a Blog Post that Needs to be Refreshed
Some general rules of thumb are that the post made up 1-2% or more of your organic traffic and has had several months of decline since its peak traffic period.
2) Identify Why the Content Decayed
As mentioned earlier, there are a few reasons why content decays. Check your post and the competing posts that are ranking for your target keyword to determine if your blog post lacks depth has outdated information or doesn’t have the right on-page SEO optimizations.
At Duckpin, we use a few tools to analyze decayed content.
First, we pop the blog in question into Ahrefs to analyze SERP data, backlinks, and competitors.
Then we run the post through MOZ’s On-Page Optimizer, which allows us to check how well our on-page SEO elements align with our target keyword.
3) Refresh the Content
After reviewing the data gathered in step 2, we then go to work refreshing the content, keeping in mind that we’d like to hit a word count that makes our post more in-depth than others and to write in a manner that keeps visitors engaged to increase dwell time.
4) Distribute the Refreshed Blog Post
Now that we have a refreshed post, it’s time to do the following:
- Update the published date on the blog post
- Submit the post in Google Search Console so crawlers get to it right away
- Share the post on our social and other distribution channels
- Email the new post out to our audience
- Begin backlink outreach to increase the authority of our refreshed post
Using Refreshes as a Part of your Content Marketing Strategy
When it comes to content marketing, staying organized is the name of the game. The best way to incorporate content refreshes into your strategy is to label high-performing blog posts as “cornerstone” content that you’ll check on every 3-6 months. This will allow you to keep an eye on performance dips.
It’s important to keep in mind that some traffic has seasonality, so it’s best to use larger sets of data when making refresh decisions.
Additionally, Yoast’s SEO plugin has a “cornerstone” content feature that allows you to designate specific blogs as cornerstone pieces. The plugin will then alert you every 6-months to check in on the post in case it needs a refresh.