Yohei Guy - Friday 4th October 2019

Refurbishing old content – 5 keys to refreshing your blogs and giving them a new lease of life

If you’re part of an SEO content marketing team you’ll understand the challenges of writing strong content and finding success in the saturated environment of the World Wide Web. Not only must your blog catch the eye and resonate with your audience, but they must also get acknowledged by Google as something worthy of favourable ranking.

Even the best content writers in the world will fail in this task, more often than not, in their first attempts. The result is that a lot of writing gets lost to the virtual nether but this doesn’t have to be the case. I thought I’d talk about a few keys to refurbishing old content so that it has the chance to get the ranking and readership it deserves.

1. Reread, reflect and be honest

The first thing you need to do is conduct a post-mortem on the blog in question to try to understand why it may not have been successful when originally published. It’s important to be extremely honest and self-critical with this process which isn’t always easy.

Photo by Alejandro Escamilla on Unsplash

I always try and keep it simple at this stage by asking “What was I trying to say with this piece?”. It’s a simple question that should elicit a simple answer but does that message come through clearly when revisiting the blog?

This step alone can be quite revealing given the passage of time and you might already see ways in which your writing maybe didn’t quite hit the mark and have ideas on how to better it. It might be to do with the tone of voice, the reading level, the structure, the use of headings etc or a mix of all those things. Whatever the issues, you’ll want to rectify them to ensure the message you want to communicate comes through loud and clear.

2. Compare against competitors

If you wrote your piece with a specific keyword in mind, then it’s important to be just as honest and thorough about whether your blog fully satisfies the intent behind that keyword.

The obvious thing to do is to first check what is currently ranking on Page 1 for the keyword in question and compare your piece to the competition. Does your piece do just as good a job of informing and engaging as others? How does your piece improve and enrich upon those results in a unique way, if it does so at all? Is your content still up-to-date and relevant?

Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

You may have already done this with the original piece, but search page results exist in a constant state of flux. The best way to satisfy the intent behind the keywords you are targeting may have changed since so it’s an important process to go through again.

3. Find out what Google thinks

After you’ve done your own personal inquest it’s important to get Google’s opinion of your piece. Obviously, having not appeared on Page 1 or inspired the volume of traffic you were hoping for, one assumes automatically that Google’s opinion isn’t where you want it.

You can easily get a more precise answer from one of the many SEO toolkit platforms available. I use SEMrush for this exercise and run the post through their Organic Research tool which tells you what keywords the piece is currently ranking for.

The organic research tool in SEMrush is perfect for this type of work
The organic research tool in SEMrush is perfect for this type of work

This can be quite an enlightening (and humorous) experience as there are always a few random keywords that show up from this, but you also get a feel with regards to how Google is interpreting your page by the collective nature of the keywords it returns.

It may be that you are ranking for your targeted keywords but are just ranking poorly in which case you’ll know you have the bones of something that’s along the right lines. It may be that you’re not ranking for the right keywords at all requiring something more radical.

4. Redo your Keyword Research

Another bit of due diligence that you should make time for is to quickly redo your original bit of keyword research. This can sometimes feel like a bit of a chore but it’s important for a few reasons.

One of these is for the simple fact that the metrics upon which you chose the target keyword in the first place, may have changed. These are things like your average monthly volume, keyword difficulty, clickstream data if you have it etc. Keywords are in a state of flux just as much as search results so it’s important to doublecheck the data.

There are lots of keyword research tools available but Ubersuggest is one of the best
There are lots of keyword research tools available but Ubersuggest is one of the best

Another important reason to redo your keyword research is that new opportunities may have emerged in the time since. This could be a natural result of the search behaviours of the people. It could also be a result of updates and improvements in your keyword research tools which regularly increase the number of keywords they are tracking.

Lastly, you may also come across relevant and complementary keywords that you could also include, not just for SEO purposes, but as inspiration to enrich and add more depth to your content.

5. Choose the right complementary media

Another way to refurb your blog content and make it more engaging is to look at the media that is currently complementing the post. Strong visuals can instantly help create an emotional connection with a reader and can also help break up content in longer form posts.

Unsplash is one of the best free tools for sourcing really high quality imagery
Unsplash is one of the best free tools for sourcing really high-quality imagery

At the same time, poor visuals can create a negative impression just as quickly and be an unnecessary distraction to your overall piece. It’s important, therefore, to make sure you choose images for your blog that are going to add value either emotionally, aesthetically or narratively with respect to the story you’re trying to tell.

Sometimes cost can be a factor when it comes to images but there are now plenty of free online sources like Unsplash and Pixabay where you can find high-quality options. If appropriate for the brand you may also consider embedding images from Instagram where some outstanding photography is also shared.

Another type of media to consider are infographics which are particularly useful at conveying complex ideas that are challenging to explain in text. You no longer need to be a qualified graphic designer to do this as there are a number of online platforms like Canva and Venngage that have plenty of templates to choose from and are extremely user-friendly. Milanote is a great platform for organising all your ideas and projects into different boards and allows you to share that with designers, developers, strategists, and in our case, clients.

The good thing about including these types of media is that it gives you a further opportunity for optimisation through filenames and alt tags. If you skipped this step the first time around, make sure you don’t skip it again.

Refurbishing your content is easy

So, there you have it. A few simple ways to refurbish your content to give it a new lease of life. Anyone who’s had experience in content writing will know how much easier it is to rewrite a piece than start one from scratch and the steps described are all extremely straightforward and could be all that’s required to get it ranked by Google and read by users.

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