Improve your rankings and multiply your traffic with Content Update – WAU
Updating content is a strategic process based on transforming old content into more attractive posts. These changes can be made in the text, from the addition of new media, SEO adjustments and many others.
“Content update? This is of no use. The deal is to publish new content to have more pages indexed. You’re talking nonsense! ”
Dear reader – be honest with me – did you think about it when you clicked the link to access this post?
I ask this because it was what we heard sometimes when we started talking about it. Were you impressed?
Unlike what some people think, we here at Websites Are Us don’t have all the answers in the world when it comes to Content Marketing. We conduct weekly tests on thousands of things and, for the most part, we fail miserably.
And the most incredible thing of all is that, despite all the flaws, we managed to find incredible tactics that give frightening results.
The content update itself is an example of this! At first, we performed an update without understanding exactly what we were doing, but we soon realized the potential of this strategy.
As usual, everything we learn here is tested on our blogs before being passed on as teaching or even as a product to our customers. Currently, anyone who has become aware of the incredible benefits of updating content is already getting phenomenal results.
As in life, whoever arrives at the source first drinks clean water. This is also true for Content Marketing. So, if you are looking to make that jump in traffic and pass your competitors in the rankings of search engines, I suggest you read this material very carefully and carefully.
This post is a compilation of over a year and a half of tests performed at Websites Are Us. All the results we obtained are explained here, as well as the whole strategy used to get the most out of old content.
Few people have realized the power of this strategy, so we believe it is time to drink clean water. What do you say?
* This post is a transcript adapted from the ebook: Content update: multiply your traffic with old content
What is content updating?
Let’s start with the basics: Content update is exactly what the name says – an update of old content. Simple, isn’t it?
Okay, let’s go further.
Updating old content, although it seems to be a simple thing, has some very interesting features. First of all, if you think that updating an article is simply changing an image or a paragraph, you are wrong.
This strategy consists of substantial changes in a piece of content that was published on your blog at least six months ago. Soon we will go into details about the reason for this minimum period.
Once we understand that giving new life to a blog post is what people are talking about, it becomes easier to understand.
To give you a very foul example, do you remember that MTV show from the 2000s called Pimp my Ride? The program’s premise was to restore cars in terrible condition, as well as modify them with the most diverse props and technologies. In the end, the people who participated in this program entered with a destroyed car and left with totally renovated and extremely attractive machines.
It is at this point that the update strategy resembles the old rapper Xzibit program.
Your updated content will be surprisingly more attractive for users and search engines, which will result in more results, traffic and rankings.
Why you should update your old content
Now let’s get to what really matters. In this chapter, you will learn what the benefits of updating are and why you need to start giving more affection to your birthday articles.
1. The only way to pass your competitors is to make content better than theirs
I believe that if you are reading this material it is because your content strategy has been running for some time, am I right?
Going back to the basics of Google ranking in a very simplified way, the pages that are occupying the first results in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Page, or Search Results Page) are – without a doubt – the best answers for the term searched by a user.
If a user performs a search it is simply because there is a doubt. If there is a doubt, the search engine performs several analyzes to identify which are the best results for that user and organizes them according to quality / relevance, in decreasing order. So, the first result will always be better than the second and so on.
I found it necessary to go back to this very basic definition about SEO so that you can follow my reasoning below:
It is not enough that you want to be the first result of organic searches for a keyword. You need to deserve to be there!
And how does the search engine identify that you are better than all the other results to put your page first? Simple! It analyzes only 200 factors to display all results on the infinite search pages. Cool huh?
Jokes aside, occupying the top positions of search engines is a difficult task, but nothing is impossible in this life. So, let’s focus only on the content, so you need to understand what makes a page rank better than the others.
If you want to learn more about Google’s 200 ranking factors, I suggest you read this article when you have a little time.
What makes one article rank better than the other despite being on the same topic?
Simple: he is simply better than the other.
It sounds silly, right? Unfortunately it is not quite like that. When it comes to better and more complete content, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be huge. Each subject has a characteristic that will make it bigger than the other.
The more comprehensive a subject, article and keyword is, the more extensive it should be. On the other hand, articles that are very specific, direct and with long tail keywords, the more direct they need to be.
In our Websites Are Us Blog this has always been clear. We have an incredible collection of subjects about Marketing and its most distinct characteristics and variations. For example, our Personas article is 1,800 words long and ranks first in Google for the term. This subject is something very specific, so we were able to complete all the reasoning on the subject with less than two thousand words.
On the other hand, we also have articles that are the opposite extreme. Our content on Marketing is close to 6 million words after its last update, and it also occupies the first position of the search engine.
Unlike the article on personas, in this content we need to talk about all the particularities about Marketing and its possible aspects to make our article the most complete on the subject in London.
We came in at number one more than a year ago, and since then, the article has been updated twice more to ensure it stays there. Do you understand?
At the end of the day, what comes down to whether you will pass your competitor or not is a matter of how complete your page / content is. If your article is more complete than all 10 results on the first page, you can be sure that you have a chance to occupy the first position of the search engine.
2. Timeliness of a piece of content – Content Freshness
As I said earlier, search engines have several factors that will influence the ranking of a page. Among them, one has a direct link to update content: Content Freshness.
How recent, current and new a piece of content is directly influencing the ranking of a page and, in most cases, will be one of the deciding factors in the top 5 of the SERPs.
“Renato, how does this update work? If I change the date of my article on WordPress, does it count as an update? ”
“Renato, if I add a new paragraph will it count as an update?”
“Renato, I found a great image for the article. I updated it by placing this image and a little caption. Thanks? ”
“Renato, I updated my content and now just forget and let the magic of SEO happen, right?”
Possibly you are already having a thousand ideas about updating or have even tried one of these. Although it seems – and is – something simple, you need to understand some points about content updates. Below I will detail some of these points so that you understand exactly what I am talking about:
- The level of modification that a content receives exerts a greater force in the positive perception on the part of the searcher: the more content is modified, the better the repercussion of the update. An altered paragraph is unlikely to exert sufficient force to improve organic traffic results. On the other hand, redoing a few paragraphs, adding new information and other topics, does mean a substantial change. And it is exactly this type of update that we are looking for.
- Changes in the main part of the page are what matter: modifications of banners, sidebar, comments tab and any other elements of the pages other than the content itself, exercise little or nothing of relevance to the page when we talk about content freshness .
- The frequency with which updates happen is also essential: when I said of our article on Marketing, I talked about the updates that the content received. Exactly, plural updates. You didn’t read it wrong. What happens is that, in the vast majority of cases, when we find a website that already updates its contents, this is usually a one-off attack. This is not a problem, but when we talk about extremely competitive keywords that deserve constant updates, frequency how these changes take place will also have a great positive impact on the searcher.
- Frequency of links directed to the page that was updated: we couldn’t stop talking about links. After all, we’re talking about SEO. Search engines take into account all the links your pages receive, right? So, supposedly, whenever a page is updated it gets better, and this way it should receive more links. For the search engine it shows that that update generated authority for the domain, which is why she continues to receive new links frequently.
- The older you are, the better: did you get confused? I wrote an entire ebook on updating content and then I say that the older the better? Here we are talking about the url age each page. In this case, having an older url can greatly enhance the results of your update. This can be seen by the simple fact that some old pages occupy the first places. If an old url receives a major content update, it signals the search engine that that content is being enhanced to improve the user experience and fully assist you.
In short: if you update your content, your results can be expanded in an unimaginable way!
3. Get results with content already published on your blog
Following a common Content Marketing strategy with a focus on content, it is very common to find companies that are only concerned with publishing articles so that they have tens of hundreds of pages indexed in the search engine. That’s great! There is nothing negative about it.
The point here is that basing your strategy only do it and miss a sea of opportunities. After reading all the points mentioned above, it was clear to you that we can still get a lot of juice out of the content that completed your birthday on your blog, right?
Often a very subtle update can yield impressive results, and this is extremely doable. Updating old content has not yet become a reality for many companies that have a digital strategy.
Remember that story of those who arrive first drink clean water? Yeah, look at her there again. If you want to get ahead of your competitors, start focusing on articles already published and that are indexed to improve rankings and get more access!
4. Updating outdated data (content never loses relevance)
Here at Websites Are Us we usually classify content into two types:
- Evergreen – Perennial
- Hardnews – News
Each of them has a very specific purpose and despite that, none of them is more important than the other. What will define if you should use one format more than the other basically depends on your strategy and how you work with content for your business.
O Perennial Content it is one that will hardly fail to lose relevance. His goal is usually for education and for this reason it is unlikely to become obsolete. It is a content format that features the medium / long term result.
The opposite happens with the News Content. In order to report recent and current events, this content format gives instant result and tends to be out of date in periods that can go from days to weeks.
Unlike what is often taught, evergreen content needs constant updates.
Imagine that you have created a complete guide on Facebook Ads and it is giving an incredible result! Six months after publication, the media tool underwent a complete overhaul and its guide became obsolete overnight. How to deal? Content update!
Without going into the merit of the results generated by the updates, the point we are discussing here is the fact that the articles you publish must always be correct and up-to-date in order to assist your readers.
Points to consider before starting the strategy
Whenever we talk to a professional about these updating strategies, the questions are usually the same:
- “How amazing is this update update. I will do the same on my blog! ”
- “I created my blog three months ago, do you think I can update some content already?”
- “I have a well-structured content strategy. We publish up to twice a week and in some we do not publish anything. We know our goals, but the publication is not constant. I’ll update! ”
Just like the questions that are repeated a lot, the answers that we usually give are also basically the same. There are a few points to note before starting a strategy like this. In this chapter we will tell you what criteria we like to observe before presenting the content update to partners.
We basically went through two steps:
How to identify if your strategy is ready to receive updates
Now that you have understood the main factors that justify the investment of time and resources in the content update strategy, we have prepared this chapter for you to address.
Although it is a relatively small effort, you and your current strategy must meet some minimum prerequisites in order to take full advantage of the benefits of the updates.
Stabilized strategy (constant content production)
As banal as it may seem, it is useless to start thinking about updating content if your own content strategy is still in its infancy. Constant posts, publishing social media content and optimizing search engine up-to-date are just a few of the pillars that must be built before you even begin to improve old articles.
Once your strategy is running smoothly, following a minimally structured editorial calendar with clear objectives and metrics, you can move on to the second prerequisite on that list.
At least 6 months blog
The last point we covered in the section on the reasons for investing in updates is how important the age of a page / content really is for the search engine.
With that in mind, another point that is extremely necessary to start directing your team’s focus on updates is the age of your blog and its content. In order for us to feel at least a small portion of the benefits of this strategy, it is essential that only content with – at least – six months of publication is updated.
Articles younger than this may not benefit from the changes, and this will hardly help your pages improve their rankings and increase organic traffic.
Other than that, we consider here at Websites Are Us that the first six months of any blog should be focused primarily on the largest possible volume of publication of new articles. This is for the simple reason that the greater the number of new pages indexed on Google, the more relevant your site tends to be.
Intermediate knowledge of Content Marketing and SEO strategies
This maturity in digital strategies is necessary for the simple fact that updating content goes far beyond the simple “add a paragraph and image” in a text.
We need to analyze competitors, keywords and their many variations, use tools such as Google Analytics, Google Search Console, SEMrush etc.
In case you are still walking in this aspect, we have prepared a short list of complementary materials that can help you – and a lot – to understand some of the points that will be covered in this ebook, which you will also find when making your own updates:
* For these two ebooks, it is interesting that you already have a basic prior knowledge.
I believe that the sum of this knowledge will help you to understand some specific points of everything we will talk about in this material, and also to face problems that you may encounter when creating your strategy.
Anyway, rest assured! In this material I will explain everything in a very simple and clear way so that you can carry out a strategy like this, even without having this knowledge.
How to identify if it’s time to start updating your articles
I usually say that there are two basic situations that can make a marketer take this option into account: despair or realizing that their content is bad.
What happened to us the first time we updated content around here was a little bit of both. We were trying to gain rankings for three very competitive keywords (Inbound Marketing, Digital Marketing and Marketing) and we were also behind our goal of quarter visits. Quickly beat despair!
Regarding the bad content part, I cannot say that this was our case. Our three articles that received updates were not bad, in fact, they were great! Only, unfortunately, they were no better than those in the top 5 positions of Google.
Other than that, in that same period we found a study by SERPIQ that changed Websites Are Us’s content strategy forever: content with more than two thousand words was occupying the top 3 of several segments in the world.
With that, we updated WAU’s first three contents by adding more content, analyzing what our competitors were doing and what was missing in our article. Other than that, we try to incorporate variations of the main keywords in these articles.
The result of all this you will find at the end of the ebook, in the case chapter! I already say that our article that had the worse result increased organic traffic by 150%.
What we can learn from this problem was that: our articles were stationed in the rankings and our traffic was not growing. And it is these two factors that we are going to detail now for you to identify what is needed to get started.
Many content stuck in the ranking
Your strategy is up to date! You and your team publish articles daily on the blog, you promote all this content on Social Media, the weekly newsletter is getting great results and occasionally there is still that segmented promotion on Facebook Ads to guarantee even better results.
Despite all this effort to get more traffic, when we talk about organic traffic your most complete article is in the 8th position of SERP for the term “landing page”. And, like this article, you still have at least 25 others that have been stationed in the ranking for more than two months. Not to mention the hundreds of other articles that have yet to reach the first page of the search. Complicated, right?
We know how you feel and that’s not cool. Marketing teams like ours have clear goals and aggressive growth goals. Seeing such a good piece of content being wasted daily is very frustrating. All the work of your team to produce a complete content, but which manages to bring only 1% of SERP’s CTR is sleep-free!
If you find yourself in this situation, know the time has come to update!
Your traffic doesn’t seem to grow at all
Consequently, if you are unable to improve your rankings, your blog traffic will also not grow as planned.
In the ideal world, much of the traffic to your website and blogs should come from organic. This is simply because you do not have to invest to bring in a considerable number of users.
Investing in other media is not wrong, the point is that when working on a Content Marketing strategy your goal becomes to obtain the highest volume of zero cost traffic possible.
So, is your traffic also parked? #partiuatualizar
How to identify the content that should be updated
You already know why, what it is and what the benefits of updates are. Now let’s take it a step further and I’ll explain how to identify the so-called opportunities!
Here at Websites Are Us we use three ways to identify the content that will be updated. Interestingly, our team discovered these classifications over time. At first, our update was based on content that was in the top 50 articles with more organic sessions in three months.
In the second moment, we started for opportunities that were below the fifth position and so on. Our current strategy is much more structured and focused on real results.
Although, apparently, the latter is the “best”, all the ways we have used to date to find opportunities for updating have worked very well.
Top 50 articles with the most organic hits in the last 3 months in Google Analytics
Our first contact with the updates was based on articles that generated more organic traffic to our blog.
In May 2015, we analyzed the result for the last three months of that period. The list we found was just like the previous one. With her main focus on our updates, in just over two weeks we were starting to change the first pieces of content on the blog.
At the time, all content had more than 6 months of publication, which guaranteed that almost 80% of the list of the 50 most accessed articles organically was updated.
This gave an incredible result to our blog:
Comparing the pre and post-update periods, we had more than 170% organic traffic growth. Much of this was thanks to updates made to the nearly 50 most accessed articles of the time.
At this stage, the only criterion was positioning in Google Analytics.
If the content was a list, our goal would be to expand it to be larger than the competitors’ lists. If it was evergreen content explaining a concept, our goal was to find points in that article that we didn’t say that differentiated our article from those that ranked better.
We have always aimed to make our updates better than the first 10 search results for the desired search terms.
Opportunities that are ranking between the 6th and 20th positions of Google
Here begins the most fun part of the content update!
The purpose of this strategy is to identify what content on your blog is ranking between 6th and 20th positions to be updated.
If you are wondering why the selection of these SERP positions, let’s talk a little more about SEO and average CTR of a conventional results page:
Since the first CTR study on the search pages was carried out, the numbers have not changed much. The average split of clicks on the first page for any query searched by a user is divided as follows:
- 1st – 35% of clicks
- 2nd – 17% of clicks
- 3rd – 11th of clicks
- 4th – 7%
- 5th – 5%
- 6th – 4%