Ian Cleary Marketing Technologist, Founder of Razorsocial
Creating new content of any kind is a time consuming process. And many times, the content you spent hours creating doesn't get the desired effect. Blogging is no different. It takes time, and for most businesses, a lot of their blog content doesn't generate ongoing traffic from Google.
The Pareto principle -- also referred to as the 80/20 rule -- applies to blogging as well, meaning that 20 percent of your articles will produce 80 percent of your traffic. The key here is to identify your best performing content. When going through your analytics and identifying content that generates traffic, pay special attention to the articles that you published some time ago. Take a good look to see if anything has changed from the time you published it.
If your older traffic-generating content is out of date, then you’re not providing your audience with quality, up-to-date information and advice. It makes sense to update it so you're driving people to relevant content. Things are changing fast no matter what industry you’re in, and those changes need to be reflected in your content as well. Update your content regularly with new, relevant information and republish it. You will be doing yourself and your audience a favor by doing so.
What do I mean by republishing?
If you are using WordPress, you’ll update your existing content and change the publish date to the new date. This means that it is launched again as a new post. However, it’s important not to change the article URL. If you change the URL, it’s like you’re writing a brand new article, and you won't get the benefits of republishing. This is especially important if you have backlinks for that article. You do not want to lose traffic due to broken backlinks.
Here are five good reasons to republish your content:
1. Your old content is getting free traffic from Google, but it's out of date.
When someone finds your article through Google, they'll have a bad impression of you and your business if the content is no longer valid. This is not the traffic you want to get and definitely not the image you want your target audience to have of you.
It's important to update older content to make sure it's relevant. If the article requires minor modifications, then you may not want to republish. But if you're making substantial changes, it makes perfect sense to republish the content, and give it an additional push by promoting it.
2. Your content isn't ranking on the first page.
More than 91 percent of people do not go beyond the first page of search results. Imagine if you were on the top of the second page. Think about all the traffic you’d be missing out on.
By revisiting, updating and republishing the content, you have a chance to get more shares and more links to the content, which means you have a good chance of pushing this article onto the first page of search results. But if you leave it as it is, your chances are closer to zero, and your position in search results will only go down, thanks to new and relevant content published by someone else.
3. It is a type of post that you update regularly.
If you are writing about a topic that is prone to changes, your article should be regularly updated to reflect those changes. For example, if you are writing about social media tools, you definitely want to update that content regularly. Not only are new tools released on a regular basis, but old ones change as well. You don’t want people on your site to read about features that no longer exist.
4. It is an important post you want your new audience to see.
Imagine you had a post on your site that was a couple of years old -- a really important post that convinces your audience about the value you can bring to them. Even though the article is not out of date, you still may want to republish it to get a whole new set of eyes on the content.
When you republish, still look for ways of making the post better. For example, you might improve the images that are shared with the post or add a little more content. You probably have more experience than when you wrote the post, so why not use that to your advantage?
5. To take advantage of Google algorithm changes.
Google is making ongoing changes to its algorithms. One significant change over the last couple of years is its move to a more semantic analysis of your content. This means that Google isn't just focused on looking for exact matches of certain keywords in the content. It's trying to understand what the content is about. So now you are better off focusing on a topic as opposed to keywords. You are still optimizing for particular keywords; you don't want to just replicate these keywords everywhere in your content. Instead, you have to think about related keywords and synonyms. Adjusting your old posts to this algorithm is a smart thing to do if you’re counting on good ranking in search results.
If you have good quality content that is generating a lot of traffic to your website, don’t leave it as it was when you pressed the publish button and hope for the best. Return to it on a regular basis, and see what you can do to make it even better and more useful to your audience. Use it to your advantage just by updating it once in a while.