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SEO Basics 5. Learn how to update website content online to boost your rankings

In the fifth instalment of the SEO Basics series, find out how to keep your website content fresh to keep readers and search engines happy…

One of the most common of the 200+ ranking factors Google takes into account is relevancy. This means if your content isn’t fresh, it’s not going to be found. In this post, we’re going to show you how to update website content online so that your marketing can stay up to date and relevant.

There are 5 steps to update website content online:

1. Audit your existing content’s performance
2. Explore what your competition is doing
3. Refresh outdated blog posts and static web page content
4. Resubmit your pages for indexing
5. Measure the results

We explore them in more detail below, but first let’s look at why it’s so important to update your website content at all.

How to update website content online: Table of contents

  1. Why you need to update website content
  2. How to update website content online
    i. Audit your content’s performance
    ii. Explore what your competition is doing
    iii. Refresh outdated content
    iv. Resubmit your pages for indexing
    v. Measure the results
  3. How often you should update website content

Why do I need to update website content?

Things change quickly in business, society and culture. Go back to some posts you published a couple of years ago, or the website pages you wrote when you were just starting up. Read them again from the perspective of someone who’s never encountered your company, right here, today.

You might well notice that it’s a little dated.

In order to be found online, you don’t just need fresh, optimised content that satisfies the search engines – you also need to ensure you’re still speaking to your target audience. This means your website needs a more regular update schedule for both its static pages and regularly changing blog posts.

Image of man browsing on tablet - How to update website content online - Copify blog

There are many benefits to updating your website content. For starters, companies live and die by their online reputation. From a brand perspective, it’s simply not possible to leave content up online from years ago that could still be found and which no longer represents your customers, your services, your values or the world we live in.

From an SEO perspective, remember that more and more people are publishing content around your keywords every day. You want to ensure you’re still competing with them by offering the most up-to-date content and proving yourself an authority on the subject.

Essentially, you need to update your content for:

  • Inaccurate information
  • Keyword optimisation
  • New suggestions for tools, resources, products or examples
  • Current news and market conditions
  • Contemporary language and values
  • Page layout and readability
  • Engaging, fresh media
  • Broken page links
  • Slow page load times

Here’s how to update website content online

Updating your website content is a cyclical process. Once you’ve followed these steps for all your content, you’ll sooon need to start again:

1. Audit your existing content’s performance

If you’ve never done a content audit, you can refer to our previous post in the series to learn how.

However, you need to take your audit one step further and review each piece of content’s performance and look for those pages which are a priority case.

Neil Patel shares a great video tutorial on how to check which pages to update. But you can follow the process below:

  • Open Google Search Console
  • Select the domain you want to audit
  • Navigate to ‘Search results’ > Then select ‘Pages’
  • Filter to the ‘Last 28 days’ and compare with the ‘Last 28 days year on year’
  • Select the column with ‘Clicks’ from the previous year

The results should look something like this:

Screenshot of Google Search Console - How to update website content online - Copify blog

Now that you have a list of pages and their performance, look for those that have lost traffic in the first column (current year) compared to the second (previous year).

These are the pages you’ll want to prioritise, particularly those that have lost out considerably.

2. Explore what your competition is doing

With your list, click the links, then click ‘Queries’, identify the keyword terms where you’ve dropped traffic and Google those terms to see who’s ranking above you.

Click on each result, analyse the page and see what makes theirs outrank yours. What makes it better? Take that information onboard when you modify your content.

You can also do a manual review of your competitions’ blog and web page content to see how they are approaching their content marketing and SEO strategy, particularly if they are outranking you in the SERPs.

A tool like SEMrush’s organic research analysis can help, or you can search the keywords you know you want to rank for and look at the content currently bagging the top positions.

3. Refresh outdated blog posts and static web page content

The goal is not to replicate another page’s content. That could risk you being penalised for duplication.

The goal is to learn what Google is telling you about what readers find most useful.

You should use this in tandem with your own knowledge about your industry and your customer base, ideally from your buyer persona. Bringing these two elements into play will ensure you create a blog post or web page that attracts as well as converts.

When updating old content, here are some steps to follow:

Review for inaccuracies: Delete any inaccurate content, adding new or more informed research, as well as current tools, resources or relevant examples.

Optimise for your chosen keyword: Ideally, you should have a target long-tail keyword per post which needs to be included in the title, meta content, alt tags, as well as the introduction and at least one header. Avoid changing your URL at this stage if you can; if you must, make sure your old URL is set to redirect.

Spruce up the layout: It’s likey that your blog page layout has evolved in line with current design trends, so ensure that old posts still engage with plenty of white space, short paragraphs, lists and other formatting staples.

Image of a laptop on a desk next to a notepad - How to update website content online - Copify blog

Check media: Images selected a couple of years ago may now look old, while screenshots and any technical processes detailed might be outdated. Replace these with current images, videos or infographics were necessary and ensure the new media doesn’t affect load times, especially important since Google’s launch of Core Web Vitals.

Check links: Links to internal or external pages may no longer work, so check each one and correct any broken links or links which may now be deemed spammy. You also want to make sure links open into new tabs rather than directing readers off your site.

Update the publish date: Once you’re happy with the results, add a note to the top or bottom of the post to state the date when this was updated and change the publish date to today.

4. Resubmit your pages for indexing

Once updated, you need to resubmit your web page to Google for indexing:

  1. Head back to Google Search Console
  2. Enter the URL in the search bar at the top
  3. Then click ‘Request indexing’ on the right-hand side

5. Measure the results

We can’t say it enough: the only way to know how well your content is performing is to measure it!

Whether you use SEMrush, Google Analytics or another tool, make sure you have a tangible way of tracking each page for metrics like ranking position for target keywords, how much traffic it is bringing in, dwell time and conversions.

Creating web content online isn’t a one-off task. It needs continuous maintenance so as soon as you submit your page indexing, you’re back to the start of the cycle!

How often should I update my website content online?

When you enter a search term, you’ll notice that Google often tries to prioritise those pages with a more recent publish date (see below).

Screenshot of Google results page displaying dates - How to update website content online - Copify blog

That’s because it knows the content is likely to be more relevant to its searchers. The higher up the ranking you are, the higher your click-through rate will be.

Of course, some keywords will have more competition than others. For those highly competitive keywords, you really need to be updating your posts every three to six months if you can, and certainly every year, as there will be more pages jostling for prime position.

As a rule of thumb, get into the practice of refreshing your content around every six months. This will keep Google’s crawlers happy.

If they’re visiting an outdated site and it’s been a while since you updated the page indexing, Google will likely penalise or remove your rankings from the SERPs. On the plus, side, the more frequently you update content, the more frequently Google will crawl your site.

Copify Tip

If you’re struggling for time, try to update just one post per week. You can schedule this into your content calendar to ensure you stick to it.

The bonus is it takes less time to update a post than create one from scratch. Plus, your site will have a fresher look and feel.

✏️  Join us next week to learn some common SEO mistakes in digital content production so you can get the most ROI from your strategy.

Also in the SEO Basics series…

1. What does SEO content writing mean?

2. How to write SEO optimised content that gets you ranking in Google

3. Learn how to create an effective Google SEO content strategy [with template]

4. How to perform an SEO content audit

Header image: KOBU Agency 

Embedded images: Tyler Franta, Screenshot Google Search Console, Andrew Neel, Screenshot Google Search Results 

Wendy Woodhead

Wendy is the Account Director at Copify and a qualified copywriter and proofreader. She has spent six years copy editing and copywriting for B2B and B2C clients and has experience in freelance and in-house arts marketing and digital content creation. Wendy likes to write about language and literature, digital marketing, history, current affairs, and arts and culture. In her spare time she enjoys yoga, reading and writing fiction.

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