A big change is upon us—Google’s ‘helpful content’ update is here. Knowing that SEO strategies are always improving and changing, content marketers are always the first to find out and are several steps ahead of everyone else. Well, except for those Google employees working on the algorithm changes themselves. Those who have been sitting in front of the computer all day monitoring potential Google algorithm changes have probably been shaking their legs nervously, but your local SEO company saw it coming.
Some digital marketers get so busy keeping up with rankings and algorithms that they completely forget what their readers need. If you have an existing audience, you will already have a customer profile that gives your business authenticity with real-life data. Not only have your customers benefited from the values of your content, but also the trustworthiness of your service. However, conversion doesn’t stop here.
Your old content from five years ago might have drawn your ideal customer towards your services and even converted them, but the evolving SEO algorithms will always put a dent in your path and kick your valuable blog off the first page of the SERP. In order to avoid disappearing to page 10, you will need to re-evaluate your content and be aware of any and all significant changes within your industry. Your first thought might be to re-optimize keywords, but this is no longer enough.
Your new goal is to solely chase your customer by writing user-focused content without including futile material that Google will deem as unhelpful. What’s more, your entire website will be affected if a large proportion of your content was written merely to rank, rather than prioritizing being personable and useful to the reader.
Depending on your industry and niche, blogs can have a timeless appeal, delivering the same value as they always have. Some flaws that may be evident are any references to the past that were relevant to when the blog was published, or those that contain too many irrelevant sentences that are not beneficial to the reader. To remain user-focused and up-to-date with current affairs, technology and other types of relevance, you need to know the questions your ideal customer is typing into the search engine. This will help you understand their motivations and concerns, among several other benefits:
Content should still be designed to convert your target prospective customers into buyers, but the new requirements stipulate that content should be written for humans 100% of the time—not SEO. But how do you revamp and refresh old content for readability and SEO purposes alike, and how do you know which blogs to prioritize?
There is a lot to consider when refreshing old content, such as evaluating search trends versus what people actually need and the questions that they are asking.To keep your old content fresh and valuable for your readers while still keeping SEO in mind, you should prioritize
Meta descriptions are the first thing readers see when they view results on the SERP. Their eyes quickly scan through titles and descriptions that are most relevant to the question they have in mind in a matter of 3 to 4 seconds.
Since you only have 160 characters to make an impact, it’s important for your meta description to be concise. Searchers should see the value at first glance because it contains their keyword, a trusted company name and a warm welcome. It’s a form of call-to-action that increases your click-through-rates and will help you rank better in the search.
Eliminating the original publishing date is crucial when updating content. Nothing puts off a reader more than seeing a blog post that has not been updated in years. They will immediately leave and look for a more reliable and trustworthy source.
That being said, don’t just change 2017 to 2022 and leave the edits there. Make sure you’re actually adding relevant changes into the body of the article or service page as well, as this will ensure that you’re meeting that ever important requirement of Google’s helpful content update—providing value to real people.
All industries will encounter changes that affect their business if they don’t provide more user-focused content. New questions will always roll in due to new services, technology, price changes and other unique changes concerning your industry. Having an existing FAQ section will always draw readers towards your content, especially if you include the questions listed in Google’s “People Also Ask” sidebar. Search for the most common queries that are applicable to your piece of content and answer them thoroughly and uniquely.
Show your reader that your site has more to offer than what they are seeking at the moment. They may not be aware that it’s relevant to them until they see a secondary topic highlighted with a link. They will be thankful for the additional value that you are willing to share and that you have thought ahead of them and saved them the hassle of entering the next question in a new search.
Pro Tip: Ensure those internal link pages are also updated or even brand-new blog posts. This will improve your chances for Google to help your content rank and also increase your domain authority.
While updating your old content for SEO and readability, you may need some backup sources to validate your new points and statistics. Nothing works better than linking to recent reputable case studies that not only support your topic area, but also validate your intentions. This way, you gain more trust from your readers who will return for more. Case studies are crucial in answering all the ‘whys’ and ‘hows.’
You may have noticed that, like you, your competitors have also been refreshing old content for SEO. There are plenty of ways that allow you to do performance analyses and check what kind of tools they use to measure their site’s effectiveness. Evaluate their strengths and weaknesses and determine what you can do better.
We recommend replacing old photos with new ones. If there is one thing that sticks in a reader’s mind, it’s visuals, and you do not want something outdated supporting your content. New images and updated alt texts will make a huge difference for your SEO and help your content be more accessible to new readers.
Additionally, as we have all witnessed through social media, video trends have revolutionized the way we consume content. Adding a short video will give the reader a succinct idea of what to expect from your written content.
Though periodic changes are recommended, this doesn’t mean that you need to make drastic changes. In fact, doing so could hurt your ranking dramatically. The point of refreshing old content for SEO is to add additional value for your reader. Major changes shouldn’t be done if you’re already ranking high.
The frequency of content refreshes will largely depend on the topic itself. Technology-related content will need to be updated more often than sewing-related content by nature of the topic itself. We recommend designing and keeping a content calendar that notifies you of the potential for updates periodically.
In the meantime, continuously check how your content is performing or if new trends, queries or Google updates are lined up. Keeping this on your radar is important when brainstorming strategies and ideas with your team and will ensure you’re ready to tackle changes ahead.