When looking to level up their SEO content game, most brands place emphasis on content creation. Of course, consistently publishing fresh pieces is an important part of any successful content strategy.
But is there another way to improve your organic traffic and rankings? One that doesn’t involve adding new items to your editorial calendar.
If you’ve been investing in content for a while, then there is a low-hanging SEO fruit that you may have overlooked: content refreshing.
In this article, you’ll learn what a content refresh means, its benefits, and how you can do it to drive more returns from your SaaS website’s content repository.
- A content refresh is the process of updating and optimizing your existing content to retain or improve its performance in terms of SEO and/or conversion rate.
- Regularly refreshing content has several benefits, such as better rankings, engagement, and domain authority.
- There are many ways to refresh your old pieces. This includes adding more depth, updating outdated information, redesigning for a better user experience, merging similar posts, etc.
Everything, including content, decays over time.
To keep your SaaS website’s content business-relevant, factually accurate, and up to the mark in terms of earning traffic and Google rankings, you need to conduct regular content refreshes.
In essence, a “content refresh” is the process of updating, editing, and optimizing your existing content (blog articles, guides, eBooks, FAQs, etc.) to maintain or improve its performance and relevance.
Of course, how you overhaul your content will vary from piece to piece. It can include quick improvements like inserting new images, examples, navigation elements, etc. Or, it could mean more intensive updates, such as rewriting the piece with a fresh angle or a design update.
But before we get into the how, why invest the time and effort into a content refresh? Is it worth it?
Refreshing content is a way to derive evergreen value from old pieces, even if they aren’t written on an evergreen topic.
The most successful SaaS brands like Zapier frequently update their old content to retain their top spots on search engines. The one below on best time-tracking apps has been updated every year since 2018 — and it continues to rank in the top two for the head keyword.
What’s more, according to data from Orbit Media, bloggers who update old posts are 2.8x more likely to report stronger SEO results.
So while revamping an old piece may not always yield the expected results, done right, a content refresh offers several benefits for your organic search visibility and conversions:
All in all, refreshing content is a relatively low-effort strategy to maintain and improve your content’s performance. It’s the perfect way to make the most of the content you already have. So, ensure to make content refreshing an integral part of your content strategy, and proactively conduct one every six or so months.
The question is…
All content decays, but not all content deserves a refresh. Here are a few factors to consider when auditing your content to decide which decaying pieces need a refresh:
Moreover, during your audit, you’ll likely find pieces that are performing really poorly in terms of getting little-to-no traffic, or posts that are totally outdated in terms of relevance to your SaaS.
In these cases, it makes sense to merge the poor-performing post with a better piece and make that piece even stronger (ensure to set up a 301 redirect for the old URL to the new one after shifting the content to the better piece), or delete the irrelevant ones as they do more harm than good to your website’s topical authority.
To identify decaying content, you can use Revive. It connects to your Google Analytics account, checks for decaying content, and emails you a list of articles to prioritize refreshing. It does so by analyzing your past 12 months’ traffic data and reporting on the total percentage of traffic lost, the length of the decline, and when the decay started. Here’s how the report looks:
Case in point: for Zeda.io — a SaaS product management toolkit — we refurbished several old posts as a part of our content strategy for their blog. We started by auditing their blog from the beginning and pinpointing weak content pieces (such as this guide on product management) based on SEO performance metrics from Google Analytics and Ahrefs.
According to Shahid Abbasi, our Senior Technical SEO Lead, a “weak” piece is one that has:
With such pieces listed out on a spreadsheet, our content team updated them one by one to provide fresh information and actionable advice while weaving in Zeda.io as the perfect solution to cover those topics comprehensively and maintain competitiveness on the SERP. We also decided to get rid of weak content that was dragging down the overall domain performance.
Now, let’s look at…
While there are endless ways to improve old content based on your goals, here are the five most effective ways you can focus on when revisiting and revamping an old piece.
If your content refresh goal is to boost SEO performance, then this is one of the foremost tactics to focus on. While content length isn’t officially a ranking factor, many experts and our own anecdotal evidence prove that longer content does tend to rank better, provided it’s actually useful and not fluff for the sake of hitting a word count.
And so, here’s what you can do to make your content more in-depth, the right way:
Include quotes from subject matter experts in your industry to make your content unique (like we did for our client JetOctopus, a SaaS technical SEO platform.)
Take a look at the top three posts in SERP and determine the average word length. If you find it to be around 1500 words, aim to refresh your content so it surpasses that.
For our client Multidots — a renowned WordPress development agency — we updated their most important landing pages (such as this one on Sitecore to WordPress Migration) to make them super detailed and facts-driven. We also calculated and included cost estimates for running an enterprise Sitecore vs. WordPress website, along with a list of FAQs and social proof. This ultimately led them to search engine dominance for this service and an improved conversion rate
This is just one of the many content pieces that we’ve refreshed in terms of depth for several clients over the years. Be it blog posts, guides, or landing pages, we’ve always noted a positive return in terms of SEO performance.
Sometimes, you’ll find that a piece you published a couple of years ago is still important to your customers and the information at the core of this post is still accurate. But there are problems such as broken links, outdated research, or old UI screenshots of your SaaS.
In some cases, the fixes are rather obvious: fix broken internal and external links (you can use this tool by Ahrefs), include the latest research and statistics to back up your arguments, or take new screenshots and GIFs of your updated product.
Our campaign for Zeda.io included a refresh of several such pieces (like this one on Kano prioritization) that benefited from the inclusion of new studies and product GIFs.
If the advice itself is outdated, then a rewrite is a good idea. For example, the best marketing tactics for 2017 may not be the best in 2023, or a piece on office productivity in 2015 should look very different in the current age of remote work. So, consider an audit of your content focused on:
Also, if your SaaS business has evolved its buyer persona, you need to refine existing posts with the new brand messaging, fresher examples, and CTAs that speak to your new audience segments.
User experience has long been a critical component in SEO and conversion success. Although UX improvements are largely done on a site-wide level (Speed, design, etc.), there are things you can do to improve your content on a piece-by-piece basis.
For instance, if you have in-depth articles that are over 2,500 words long, consider adding a sticky table of contents to help the reader navigate easily. Here’s how we had this done for Zeda.io (see the sticky ToC on the right):
In the same screenshot above, you can find attractive, branded graphics that add to the article’s appeal. Our in-house designer produced these for Zeda.io’s blog posts. Such custom graphics can go a long way in both keeping readers engaged and establishing your blog as an authority.
Furthermore, break up your paragraphs into shorter bits (preferably no longer than three sentences) and include bullet points to retain the reader’s attention. As most people tend to skim through content and look for specific answers, making it more scannable can actually encourage readers to spend more time on your page.
As simple as these things may sound, speaking from experience, they’re super effective.
Long story short, undervaluing the importance of a clean, reader-friendly blog post can be a costly mistake. If your blog posts are too lengthy or poorly formatted, readers may quickly become frustrated and abandon your page. So, consider refreshing your best posts to make them easy to navigate and visually appealing — this is just as crucial as their content.
While the above refreshing tactics are sure to help your content rank better, you can also focus your refresh on keywords-specific SEO performance.
That is, during your content audit, you might discover that some of your articles lack critical keywords or aren’t effectively optimized for their intended keywords. If so, it’s time to target new keywords or make secondary keyword inclusions that ensure your post is optimized for all the relevant phrases. This could mean incorporating new sections (such as an FAQ), replacing old keywords, revising the title and meta description, and/or adjusting the angle of your post.
For example, if one of your old articles is optimized for “productivity hacks” (it has “productivity hacks” in the title tag, subheadings, and so on) but its best-ranking keyword is actually “productivity tips,” you’re likely to see a big SEO boost by modifying your title and headers to target the new keyword. At the same time, you can also dig up secondary and long-tail keywords to include in your post to make it even more relevant.
If you have hundreds of articles on your blog, then there are chances some of them are competing against each other on the SERP for the same target keywords. This is known as keyword cannibalization, which essentially means that if you have articles on similar topics, Google may find it hard to distinguish which article should rank highest for a certain query. As a result, they may both end up ranking lower than desired.
During your audit, if you find multiple articles on the same topic, combine these competing posts into a single post, retaining the URL that ranks the highest according to Google Search Console — that’s the piece with the most authority in Google’s eyes. Delete the old URLs and create 301 redirects from the old posts to the merged post. This way, the backlinks juice of those old URLs is passed on to your refreshed post to boost its rankings.
Also, if you’re writing year-specific listicles such as “best productivity tools in 2023”, avoid using 2023 in the URL. This way, you can refresh the content each year without changing the URL.
Refreshing old content is a key component of an efficient content strategy. Periodically auditing and updating your content enables you to sustain and enhance your SaaS website’s performance. Once you make refreshing content a habit, it might even give you new insights into the effectiveness of your overall content creation strategy as well, helping you double down on topics and formats that yield the best returns.
Wish to do a content refresh for your SaaS, but don’t have the time to do it yourself? Well, help is just a couple of clicks away. We’re a bunch of SaaS marketing geeks who love to help software brands grow with content and SEO. Holla at us for a content refresh and more.