Change is the only thing that’s constant in this world.
What we know today, could be deemed obsolete tomorrow. For instance: it’s funny that some of the greatest minds in history once believed the earth was flat – but they did. Today, we’re still continuously discovering new things and adding more information to our existing knowledge.
The same is true online. As new websites are built, older pages get pushed to the back and new data takes the spotlight.
Freshness plays an important role for both users and search engines. By breathing new life to your old content, you increase your chances of being found by your target audiences, as well as boost your Google ranking. This is one of the oldest – and most common – SEO strategies implemented by online experts.
You may not have thought about updating your web page content in quite a while.
But it’s never too late to begin. Here’s why.
In 2003, Google engineers patented a document called “Document Scoring Based on Document Content Update”. One crucial detail in this patent cites how Google’s algorithm, as a search engine, would put weight on the freshness of links and content on a web page based on certain queries as well as other factors.
Although Google has been using freshness as a ranking signal for years, it’s only during the patent announcement that SEO experts were given a concrete look into how important updated content is.
There are basically two reasons why you should renew your content.
The first is to help your audience remain knowledgeable on the topic. This is vital in dynamic industries such as digital marketing, where what’s true today could be obsolete tomorrow. Second is that, every time you make relevant changes to your web page, Google bots can more frequently visit your site, too.
Do note that NOT all types of content needs updating.
For example: regularly occurring events like the NFL need constant updates to keep users in the loop of current happenings. But documents, like the Magna Carta, need not be updated in order for it to rank. Google has grown smarter over the years, and it can now determine which queries require freshness and which don’t.
If other factors click into place – such as dwell time, content quality, and user engagement – that might just aid you in boosting your website’s Google ranking.
Not all updates are the same. Make sure to provide relevant changes that would benefit your target audiences the most.
One key element that Google looks into is the magnitude of content updates. Instead of adding or removing a couple of words or sentences, renew entire sections when applicable. This signals search engine crawlers that you have more to say on the subject, and that you did your research.
Speaking of research, don’t forget to add important links to your content. These links should contain valuable, new information on your topic. Linking to older documents may affect how Google sees your updated content (but this still depends on the subject).
Before changing links, confirm that existing ones are still appropriate and usable. You can easily check these under the Broken Links section, on the Tools tab on your WordPress Dashboard.
Once there, you can edit the URL, unlink it from the anchor text, tag it as Not Broken, Dismiss the link, or have it rechecked.
You may also opt for a Bulk Action on a number of broken links, to save time. This prevents users from experiencing dreaded 404 errors when clicking on references from your content.
Aside from the scale of changes, Google’s algorithm will also factor in HOW many times you breathe new life to old pages. Updating web page content constantly (like once a month or weekly) is more valuable than one update every two or five years.
But how do you make amazing changes to your content? There are plenty of things you can add to spruce up old pages. There are testimonials, slideshows, better images, new data, and even video to name just a few. But it all begins with a bit of research and of course, your own expertise.
Say you have a blog about search engine optimization. SEO strategies and best practices have changed a LOT since 2010. So if you haven’t been writing much, now’s the best time to interview experts, make intelligent predictions as to its future, and introduce trending tools to help people who want to learn more about the subject.
Only with a thorough website analysis would you know WHAT to change.
Bigger websites should examine their pages at least once a week to check for inconsistencies. But smaller sites can do with check-ups once a month. Do what works best for you.
Avoid updating content just for the purpose of Google ranking!
Always make your online users the priority. The updates that you make should be search- and user-friendly. While breathing life to old web pages is a great tactic to boost Google ranking, it shouldn’t be the priority. Instead, aim to add value to website visitors. You’re updating because you want to share new stuff.
Need more help? Not sure where to begin? Don’t hesitate to contact an SEO consultant. Breathe new life to your old web pages with the help of a true expert today.