It’s easy to get caught up in the momentum of content creation (you have a content flywheel to maintain, after all). A healthy publishing cadence is the proven path to better rankings and search traffic growth.
But SEO is a long-term strategy, and to make sure the juice is worth the squeeze — to get the most rankings out of your content— you’d be wise to keep tabs on past performance, and check in on occasion for refresh opportunities
A content refresh is the process of updating your content for relevance and recency to satisfy users and search engines alike. Think of it as a “revival” of old content to achieve rankings once again — or perhaps for the first time.
Reasons to Refresh Your Content
There are two main reasons why you should refresh your content.
Reason #1 — Your content wasn’t well-optimized for SEO in the first place.
Clearscope equips you with the tools to create the most comprehensive content possible. But what about content published before Clearscope?
If your content is underperforming, it either wasn’t comprehensive enough to start or it wasn’t written with SEO in mind.
For instance, if you’ve stepped into a role with an inventory of existing content at your fingertips — content you’re less familiar with or had no hand in creating yourself — then you’ll likely find some potential refresh opportunities.
Reason #2 — Your content has fallen out of relevance.
New information is emerging in your industry and in order for your content to succeed in the search results, it must stay current.
Consider the credit card industry.
New credit cards come and go, along with the details of their policies, reward points, and other specifics that readers want to know about.
It’s the reason why finance websites routinely “refresh” their content — to stay relevant.
Whether your content has fallen out of relevance or it wasn’t SEO-ready to begin with, in the next section you’ll learn how to spot the right refresh opportunities.
How to Spot Content That’s Worth Refreshing
Not every piece of content is worthy of a refresh. When you know what to look for in advance, you’ll save ample time and resources spotting content that will benefit from a second look.
Use these three criteria to help identify content that’s worth refreshing and content you should leave as is.
#1: Look for pages to enhance, not overhaul
Refreshing content is about taking a post that’s “nearly there” and updating it with deeper, relevant content to make it even better.
The idea is to enhance your content’s potential, not give it a complete overhaul.
Our recommendation is to skip short, “thin” or irrelevant content that has no search value. You’re better off writing a new piece altogether than backtracking with a complete overhaul and rewrite.
#2: Look for pages that are underperforming
Pages that performed well in the past but have since declined in rankings are ripe opportunities for refreshes.
Likewise, if you notice valuable content that isn’t meeting expectations today, regardless of past performance, add those pages to your list as well.
#3: Skip pages with no search potential
Using the process of elimination, you can immediately skip types of content that don’t make sense for a refresh.
Content types such as:
Posts for the purpose of thought leadership
Community spotlights or success stories
Posts focused on brand awareness
New feature announcements
These types of pages are great resources to have on your website, but because they weren’t written for search, you can safely exclude them from this process.
When you’re done, you’ll have narrowed your list of potential pages to sort through and refresh in Clearscope.
Choose the Right Keyword
With your list of URLs at the ready, the next step is to choose a target keyword for each piece.
If a keyword doesn’t immediately stand out in the title, think about what somebody searching on Google might type in to conjure your content to the search results.
Be thoughtful here: if you had to describe each piece in as few words as possible, what words might you choose? The answer to that question can help you find the right keyword.
Remember, the right keyword for your content:
Has adequate search volume
Has a clear search intent
Is topically-relevant to your existing content
If you aren’t sure, repeat the process from our article on keyword research to find a term that closely matches the topic and search intent of your article.
As you begin choosing keywords, don’t be afraid to update your old <title> tags to accommodate your new target keywords.
Once you have your list of URLs and accompanying keywords, navigate to the Create many reports page in Clearscope.
Paste in your list and click “Run reports.”
When it’s done running, you’ll have a list of new reports to sort through in Clearscope.
We recommend tackling articles with the lowest grades first since those pages have the most to gain from a content refresh.
Performing The Refresh
The process in this final step is similar to the one we covered in our content outlining piece. But instead of starting from scratch, you’ll be working from fleshed out articles.
Think of them as “working drafts” that you’re about to enhance.
If the content pieces you chose haven’t been touched in a long time, expect to see some gaps to fill with fresh new content.
Check heading use
Sort by Heading presence from the drop-down menu and check to see if your content is missing any popular headings.
If so, that’s a good sign that new information has emerged on the topic and you should create a section for it.
Check “unused” terms
Next, sort by Unused terms and look for any terms that are missing from your content.
Use your judgement and determine if unused terms can be worked into existing sections, or if additional sections are needed.
Keep your content focused on the keyword
Are there sections of content with no relevant terms at all? If so, you might be veering off-topic.
You want to get straight to the point with your content and give the searcher what they’re looking for. Be mindful when introducing elementary knowledge or information that isn’t relevant to the specific topic at hand.
For example, someone searching for “best credit cards 2020” isn’t looking for an encyclopedia entry covering all things credit cards. They just want to learn about the best credit cards in 2020.
Covering the broader context in this example would be too far off topic, thus irrelevant to the search intent.
Here are three ways to help keep your content focused:
Remove sections that are too far off-topic
Gut-check word count and readability are in the recommended range
Ensure content answers search intent
As a rule of thumb, the more content you have, the better — just make sure it’s relevant.
Now that you’ve identified what needs to be added, revised, or removed, you’re ready to complete the refresh, or delegate to your writers to make the changes for you.
Commit to Fresh, Relevant Content
Fresh content is of maximum relevance to the reader and search engines alike, which is why your content needs to keep up the pace and stay relevant.
The frequency at which you refresh your content is up to you and the industry you’re in.
Just remember to keep a record of when you last refreshed your content and keep tabs on your content moving forward.