The Importance of Refreshing Outdated Content


No matter how hard you try, your website will have outdated content. Here at WSI, we consistently write and publish new blog content, as creating fresh content is core to an effective marketing strategy. But the world speeds onward, time passes, and we soon have a list of outdated articles that need to be updated.

What should you do with outdated content? First, you should look at the old content and consider refreshing the articles relevant to your current content strategy. Make updating outdated content part of your editorial calendar—it’s not only a cost-saving action but makes sense.

But what about the rest of your outdated content? What other reasons are there for refreshing old content?

SEO Can Be Improved

As with other search engines, Google’s algorithm aims to return relevant and quality results for its users. Owning more than eighty-three percent of the global search market share, Google continuously updates its algorithms to offer the best customer experience. And ultimately, these updates are what can make your page rank drop—content loses its value over time because customer needs change, and the target keywords you used to improve search rankings when you first wrote the content might not be relevant anymore.

Refreshing outdated content allows you to improve your SEO performance by adding better keywords, potentially increasing its rankings again. Why not use this opportunity to optimize more than your on-page search engine optimization (SEO)? Could the refresh include changes to the off-page SEO and technical SEO? The technical SEO article referenced here is the perfect example of refreshed content as it states, “Originally published Jan 29, 2016, updated Jan 13, 2022“. Updating all SEO for a piece of content will make the page rank easier.

It Can Save You Time, But Still Give Results

Though time-consuming, fresh content is vital to any company’s content strategy. But reviving old content and giving it new life should also be part of the strategy. It can save you time but still deliver results.

How can you identify which content to update? Do a content audit where you analyze the performance of your content and learn where to make improvements. Most content audits only focus on SEO performance, but you’ll also need to audit the content’s business performance and utility at least annually.

What factors influence whether a page should be audited?

  • If the page is less than six months old, it should not be audited, as it takes time to rank on search engines.
  • Does the content rank in the top three for its primary target keyword? Focus your attention on content lower in the rankings.
  • Is the content ranking in the top twenty? Maybe keywords are not the problem, but you do not have enough backlinks to compete in the search engine results pages (SERPs).

Potential Grammar and Spelling Mistakes Can Be Fixed

Everyone knows that feeling when you write a new piece of content and read it the next day only to find cringe-worthy grammar or spelling mistakes 😱

Though we strive for professionalism and excellence, errors happen. Refreshing outdated content offers you the opportunity to fix spelling and grammar mistakes. And besides linguistic errors, what else could you update? Consider things like:

  • Is the headline still catchy enough to draw readers in, and does it align with reader intent when they search for a specific term?
  • Is the content message still relevant to the readers you are targeting?
  • Double-check all internal and external links of the article and update where necessary. Nothing says old content more than outdated references.
  • Review the URL to ensure it reflects the refreshed content date.
  • Update visual elements and graphics that no longer fit your current brand design guidelines.
  • Review the meta description and image alt-text for updating on-page search SEO elements.

Google Can See Your Content Is Fresh

Do you want your monthly traffic to increase and for Google to see that your content is fresh? With an estimated 4.32 billion people using their mobile phones to access the internet, Google has transitioned to mobile-first indexing. It means that Google predominantly uses the mobile version of the content for indexing and ranking. While they state that having a mobile version of content is not required to show your pages on their SERPs, it is strongly recommended.

So, another way to increase your content ranking on search engines, and draw increased organic traffic, is to adapt your content for mobile use. Google has mobile-indexing best practices, including ensuring the desktop and mobile content are the same, or there will be some traffic loss. When refreshing outdated content by adapting it for mobile, subtle changes such as using shorter paragraphs might make all the difference.

The Accuracy of Your Content Can Be Increased

Content maintenance includes increasing the accuracy of content by updating statistics and backlinks and revising content to have the latest research or findings. But updating older content is also an opportunity to create a new user experience by making it more interesting with visuals such as:

  • Photos
  • Videos
  • Illustrations
  • Visual call-to-actions (CTAs)
  • Data visualizations
  • Screenshots
  • User-generated content (UGC)
  • Augmented reality

Accurate, refreshed content is not only about visuals and the latest information but should also speak to your whole audience. Your audience may be more diverse now than when the article was originally written, or your target audience may have changed.

Changes to outdated content don’t have to be extensive but simply viewed with a different, more updated perspective of your consumer.

Searcher Behavior Changes

Global, national, or personal events can change searcher behavior very quickly. A report on content marketing trends was published, and amongst others, highlighted the need to keep track of an audience’s shifting needs. Not long after the content was made public, a war broke out that, although specific to a region, impacted the whole world. Suddenly, the audience’s needs changed, even if it was short-term for many.

What does this mean for refreshing outdated content? An article on consumer insights and the way people shop highlights that shoppers are buying earlier than usual, like to do their window shopping online, and make purchases where it is most convenient, whether an app, in-store or online. The old piece of content you are adapting might have to reach the consumer on a different platform than before and be published earlier than expected.

In Conclusion

So, there you have it. Six compelling reasons to refresh your old content (even if you don’t think it needs it) and some tips on how to do just that. Of course, we understand that refreshing all of your website’s content can be a daunting task—especially if you’re short on time or resources. That’s where we come in!

Contact us for a free consultation if you need help refreshing your website content. We’ll work with you to develop a plan that fits your budget and schedule while delivering the results you need to stay ahead of the competition. Have you refreshed your website content lately?

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