Once you hit the “publish” button on a new blog post, you likely breathe a sigh of relief. It’s done. Now you can put it in the rearview mirror and move on to your next piece. Right?Not so fast. There’s a new tactic in the world of blogging that may take you by surprise. It involves going back and updating your old blog posts.
Before you dismiss the idea as crazy, consider that taking this step could help increase your organic traffic and even conversions. For example, Backlinko found that updating and republishing old posts can boost organic traffic by over 111 percent.
HubSpot has already engaged this tactic, which it calls “historic optimization.” The company reports that it has increased monthly organic search views of old posts that are newly optimized by an average of 106 percent.
“Optimizing old posts is turning out to be a new way to generate more value from content we’ve published in the past,” stated the company. “We’ve more than doubled the number of monthly leads generated by the old posts we’ve optimized.”
This strategy has also helped several of Kuno Creative’s clients improve their monthly website traffic.
One of our clients, who is one of the largest greenhouses in the country, has been blogging for years about topics related to the care of orchids and other plants.
One of the most popular topics relates to its recommended ice cube watering method. It had a number of blog posts related to watering, but most were at least five years old.
By updating several of these older posts and better optimizing them for SEO, the company saw a significant increase in traffic.
Here’s an example of one of those posts, which was updated in August 2018 and experienced a 324 percent increase in organic traffic afterward.
The first step in optimizing old posts is to choose which blog posts are worthy of your time to update. Not all of your old blog posts are the same. Some are worth more than others.
Here are some reasons posts could qualify for a refresh:
There are several ways to update old blog posts. For the best results, consider these four tactics: finding better-performing keywords, adding new quality content, adding compelling new images, and improving meta titles and descriptions.
Keywords is a natural place to start your old-post rehabilitation because Google is always tweaking its keyword algorithms. Also, it’s likely you’ve become more familiar with your highest-ranking keywords since you originally wrote your old posts.
One thing that will help is doing some deeper, post-specific keyword research. Keyword tracking tools, such as HubSpot’s Content Strategy Tool, can help you figure out which keywords your posts are ranking for. The idea is that if you can identify the keywords, you can make an educated guess about which keywords are helping your post get found.
The result of HubSpot’s optimization of its best-performing blog post was an increase in conversation rates of 240 percent, which is three times more leads. After conducting keyword optimization on its next 12 top-trafficked posts, it doubled the number of leads generated. In fact, conversion rates increased on all 75 posts that were keyword optimized.
In 2017, Backlinko published a blog post on a backlinking technique. A reader tried the method and ended up on Page 1 of Google. The reader sent an email to Backlinko in 2018 sharing his success. The company decided to update the original post with this case study versus creating a whole new post.
They not only added the success story but also added a few additional backlinking tips and updated the images. Backlinko gave the post a new publication date and republished the post. The result was a 111.37 percent increase in traffic to that page.
The result wasn’t a one-time fluke either. Since then, Backlinko has updated many other old blog posts — a process it called “content relaunch.” The result was boosting overall organic traffic by 260.7 percent.
While Backlinko relied on a case study to add new quality content to an old blog post, there are many other ways to add new content to old blog posts, including:
Backlinko’s addition of not just new content, but also new images should not be overlooked. Because research has proven that the images you use in your content can have a big impact on your results.
For example, conversion expert, Jeremy Smith, found that by using larger images in promotions reduced bounce rates by 27 percent and improved conversion rates by 36 percent.
This is just one of many ideas for improving your images in old blog posts. Other ideas include:
With the philosophy that “there’s always a chance to make your site better,” the owner of MonitorBacklinks.com, did a deep dive into his blog’s organic search results. While studying page performance, he found that one page with a high average keyword position of 9.0 had a click-through rate (CTR) of only 5.15 percent. Meanwhile, a page with a much lower keyword position had a CTR of 14.43 percent.
To Felix Tarcomnicu, this was a clear sign that he could improve his meta titles and descriptions to make his blog posts more appealing in the search results and potentially convince more users to visit his site. The tactic worked.
After spending time analyzing pages that had high potential, but did not have a good enough CTR, he rewrote their meta titles and descriptions. In less than one month, the CTR improved on all pages from 2.21 percent to 5.71 percent.
One of the values that blogs add to marketing programs is that they are technically timeless. Both new and old posts can show up on search results. When people click on links to your old posts, don’t you want them to be fresh, up-to-date and meaningful?
Clearly, taking a little time to update your old blog posts with proven tactics will go a long way to helping you gain the results you were looking for when you first published the posts. Now they can get a second chance.